By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – VICE President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo Wednesday said that the Federal Government was working hard to ensure that all the remaining abducted Chibok girls were released and returned home safely to their parents.
The Vice President stated this when he received a delegation of girl child rights advocates from various schools in Abuja, who were led by officials from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Save the Children International and the UNFPA at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to mark the International Day of the Girl Child.
Prof. Osinbajo in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to securing the release of the remaining abducted Chibok girls in order to send a clear message to the rest of the world that such criminal acts of abduction would not be condoned in the country.
According to him, “We want to be able to challenge men and women all over the world about this sort of behaviour, and this is one of the reasons why we are advocating that this kind of conduct must be met with the greatest possible objection and force.
“It is very important for us that those girls are returned; anyone who has a friend or child or anyone among the girls recognises that girls are more vulnerable than men, especially when they have been abducted by men stronger and older than themselves, and held in captivity for so long.
“We shouldn’t accept it. We should condemn it for the cowardly and wrongful act that it is, and do our best to give succour to the ladies who have suffered this particular injustice.”
Continuing the Vice President said, “We’ve had the unfortunate experience of having over 200 Chibok girls that were abducted. Again, as you know, some of them have been rescued; they have returned and are back home. But there are still some who are still out there, who we are still hoping and working every day to bring back home.”
He disclosed that the released Chibok girls were currently studying in the university, adding, “We are happy to report that they are all doing very well, they are very excited about the new opportunities that they have and they are starting their lives afresh with a great deal of enthusiasm.”
Prof. Osinbajo congratulated the Girl Champion, Akam Ayo Blessing, who emerged as the Best Female Basic Education Certificate Examination Candidate, with 17As and one C.
He said, “Her success demonstrates that there is absolutely no difference in terms of capacity and resourcefulness between a boy child and a girl child. Girls are not less intelligent or resourceful than boys. Only those who, for some reason or the other, want to deceive themselves would argue at all that there is a difference of any kind, especially in intelligence or capacity, between men and women.”
Meanwhile, the Vice President met with a delegation from the Family Planning (FP) 2020 Reference Group who paid him a courtesy call at the Presidential Villa.
The delegation, led by the newly appointed Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Natalia Kanem, and the President of the Global Development Programme of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Chris Elias, had other officials from the UNFPA, USAID, DFID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Kanem succeeded the late Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin as head of the UNFPA.
In his remarks, Prof. Osinbajo expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to create more awareness on proper family planning in the country as it was crucial to national development.
He further said through its initiatives, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration will continue to support the legacy of the late Prof. Osotimehin, who was a strong advocate for public health and the rights of women and girls.
The FP 2020 Reference Group targets that 120 million more women and girls in about 69 countries, including Nigeria, have access to voluntary family planning information, services and contraceptives by the year 2020.
In attendance were the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and the Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed.