By Henry Umoru – Abuja
Governors of the thirty-six states of the country under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF have resolved to work in synergy with the United Nations and the European Union to fight Gender-based Violence in the Country.
Chairman NGF and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi disclosed this on Wednesday at a meeting held at the United Nations building, Abuja during a meeting organised at the instance of the UN between the UN, EU, and the NGF, on a program code-named the Spotlight Initiative.
Fayemi who led the NGF to the meeting commended the UN and the EU for the initiative which he described as a game-changer when considered in relation to what the world is going through, especially the Covid19 pandemic.
However, Dr. Fayemi added that this initiative couldn’t have come at a better time, coming on the heels of the last NGF meeting where all the governors took conscious steps to mitigate the unwholesome incidences of rape and other Gender-Based Violence in the country.
He was accompanied to the meeting by the Director-General of the NGF Mr. Asishana Bayo Okauru, Alhaji Abdullateef Shittu, the Executive Director Research, Dr. Abdulwahab Ahmad the NGF Health Advisor and Hauwa Halliru, Technical Assistant to the DG NGF.
In a statement signed by the Head, Media and Public Affairs of NGF, Abduabdulrazaque Bello Barkindo, the UN and EU have jointly applauded the efforts of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum for imposing a state of emergency on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) towards addressing the various indignities that women go through in their own homes and that is now becoming rampant in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
He said, “The purpose of the meeting was to discuss possible areas of partnership between the initiative and the NGF. Although it was essentially a physical meeting, the representatives of the European Union attended virtually from the UK.
“Fayemi said there are other related issues that the Governors are looking at including the Child Rights’ Act and that have plagued the country in the past and they are being seriously considered for action.
“Dr Fayemi said although the Federal Government had taken steps in the right direction in solving these problems, some states have not been able to domesticate them due to certain cultural and sometimes religious implications.
“Fayemi disclosed to the partners that there are already concerted efforts at applying the naming and shaming of perpetrators of these GBVs as a sex offenders register has already been opened.
“The Ekiti State Governor also identified treatment, counselling, and care as some of the most critical activities that can help the victims of GBV because they happen to be at the receiving end of the cane. He also advocated the establishment of referral centres and shelters for the victims as not just necessary but critical in helping curb the problem.
“Meanwhile Dr. Fayemi also included the social underpinnings that lead to these crimes which include insufficient knowledge on the part of the perpetrators saying education for both the perpetrators and the victims would go a long way in helping both.
Bottom line is that the women must not just be healed and counselled but must also be empowered to be able to cope with their particular situations and circumstances.
“Dr. Fayemi said these are systemic challenges that take time to address and therefore expressed delight that the NGF would be pleased to be working with stakeholders to build and facilitate the implementation of functional systems for the country.
“As Governors, we are strong proponents of never letting the crisis go to waste, instead we try and turn adversity to opportunity. At the NGF we do not just present responsive but effective governance as our priority.”
Earlier, Edward Kallon the Resident Coordinator had enumerated areas of cooperation with the NGF which include GBV, genital mutilation, and Access to Justice among several other social inconveniences that have been plaguing mostly the weak and underprivileged members of society.
On his part, Kurt Correls who spoke for the European Union on-line from the EU headquarters applauded the Nigerian governors who he said have risen to the occasion by declaring a state of emergency on GBVs and looks forward to working with the NGF at a technical level to find a lasting solution to GBV and other anti-social behavior in the country.
GBV he added has always been with us in every society but what is commendable is the fact that this courageous team of Nigeria’s Governors has now deemed it imperative to address the matter once and for all.
He said Nigeria is one of eight countries to benefit from its EU500m assistance for the program and expects that tangible work would be done in this area. Kurt also emphasised the need to align all activities of the program to meet the standards set for it because of how important it is to ensure the credibility of the process.