Reps fume as Accountant-General's office budgets N36m to battle wild animals

…Fears exclusion will trigger population explosion

…As UNFPA laments impact of COVID-19 on women, girls

By Chris Ochayi 

ABUJA: The management of the National Population Commission, NPC, has expressed concerns over the omission of specific funding for family planning in the proposed 2022 budget, fearing that the zero allocation would trigger population explosion in Nigeria.

Chairman of NPC, Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra, who noted this while speaking at 2nd anniversary of the Nairobi Summit with theme, “No Exceptions, No Exclusions: Realizing sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice for all”  in Abuja, said the omission might derail progress made towards attaining demographic transition.

According to him, “I wish to use this platform to further draw attention of all stakeholders to the seaming omission of specific funding for family planning in the proposed 2022 budget and the threat of population explosion in Nigeria.”

“This calls for a huge concern and urgent action to forestall the likely set-backs that might derail progress towards significant demographic transition, prospects for population management, increasing distance to realizing the three Zeros and the 2030 agenda, which is just eight-years away from today.”

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He said, I am pleased to welcome you all again to this special event organized to commemorate the 2nd Anniversary of that epoch making event, 2019 Nairobi Summit on the International Conference on Population and Development, ICPD, Programme of Action at 25.

“Your presence, demonstrates a high sense of responsibility, interest and dedication to accelerating progress towards the realization of commitments made at the Summit as a nation and by Stakeholders who joined consensus with Nigeria to keep promises made to women and girls since Cairo.

 “The commemoration of ICPD25+2, reminds us of the political and  financial commitment and consensus reached 48 months ago to foster partnerships for effective delivery on achieving the transformative goal that underscores the essence of the 2030 Agenda through attainment of the three Zeros”

“Zero preventable maternal mortality, zero unmet need for family planning; and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices.

“Our being here today and thereafter, affords us the opportunity to track  progress, report on gains made, identify gaps with regards to programming, interventions, financing and actions to ensure undisrupted access to sexual and reproductive health information, counseling and services for all women and adolescents.

“This include expanding access to family planning (particularly for populations in crisis and those caught in conflict situations); as well as measure the extent at engaging young people in conversations/decision that affects their lives and securing quality, robust and disaggregated data. Sincerely, we are here to reflect and to score performances.

“May I use this opportunity to highlight one of the national achievements of Nigeria in this – regard, which is the capturing of the three (3) Zeros among the targets of the approved Revised National Policy on Population for Sustainable Development (NPP); and in addition, preparedness for the next census. “

Hon. Kwarra, however stressed further that, “In response, the National Population Commission, N PC, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund , UNFPA, and relevant stakeholders committed to the affirmations at Nairobi, should find its expedient to strengthen . platforms, networks and create opportunities, promote innovations and interventions to address gaps end challenges encountered and re-energize to recover from the aftermaths of COVID-19 and to re-build back better.

“I suggest that a more frequent assessment meetings across stakeholders should be organized ahead of each annual event to facilitate a more robust appraisal of efforts.

“In conclusion, let me seize this opportunity to thank all Stakeholders who implement programmes and intervene to Accelerate the Promise in their difference frontiers/communities to positively transform lives and ensure equal rights and choices for all, and to specifically improve the lives of women and girls and their respective commits to the three (3) Zeros.

“May I equally thank the UN FPA Resident Representative, Ms. Ulla Mueller and all our stakeholders, partners and donors for their continuous support and for making this year’s event remarkable.”

In her remarks, the Resident Representative, United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA Nigeria, Ms. Ulla Elizabeth Mueller, lamented that the outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic has taken a staggering toll on the provision of health services particularly sexual and reproductive health services.

She said the pandemic has negatively impacted on women and girls’ well-being globally and Nigeria is currently experiencing the third wave of the deadly disease.

According to her, “The Nairobi summit which was co-convened in 2019 brought together about 145 governments and member states including Nigeria to build consensus and strengthen partnerships to further advance the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action the bold right —based vision of full equality for women and girls, and of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

“The Summit captured the 12 global overarching commitments, encompassed in three transformative goals an end to preventable maternal mortality; zero unmet need for contraceptives, and ending gender-based violence and harmful practices.

“It further highlights critical and urgent issues including increase financing at national and international level for the inclusion of young people into all decisions and conversations that affects them particularly their health and well-being; developing quality and disaggregated data, and ensuring equitable access to sexual and reproductive health information and services for all. 

“The High-Level Commission on the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 Follow-up launched its first report in New York on 15″ November 2021. In its report, “No Exceptions. No Exclusions”, the Commission finds progress on some commitments, but overall notes a harrowing setback in sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world, and calls for ambitious, deliberate and comprehensive action to achieve sexual and reproductive justice for all, in particular women and girls. 

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken a staggering toll on the provision of health services particularly sexual and reproductive health services, consequently impacting women and girls’ well-being globally and Nigeria is currently experiencing the third wave.

“The pandemic’s compelling economic impacts have been felt mostly by women and girls, who generally earn less, hold less secure jobs, and face a greater risk of losing their livelihoods or descending into poverty. In essence, it has had a profound impact on the capability of women and girls contribute their quota to development and to claim and exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.

“An inability to access sexual and reproductive health services is one of the leading causes of death for women and girls in humanitarian settings, and child marriage is more common among girls who are poor and less educated. 

“Today, we are gathered again to reignite and accelerate our efforts to keep to the commitments made at the ICPD, held in Cairo 25 years ago.

“To achieve the 2030 sustainable development agenda of leaving no one behind, our women and girls needs to be able to have full control over their bodies and lives without any fear of repercussion or violence. Denying them of this right impede their ability to achieve their full potential and consequently has a toil on socio economic and sustainable development in the country. 

“In the words of UNFPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem – “Sexual and reproductive justice is how we realize sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, for good,”.

“Justice depends on ambitious, well-financed action to make good on our commitments and realize, once and for all, the full promise of the ICPD Programme of Action.” 

“We need to safeguard our hard-fought gains and ensure that sexual and reproductive health rights and bodily autonomy stay on the local agenda, and our momentum maintained towards the achievement of the Nairobi Summit commitments. 

“1 would like to commend the Federal Government of Nigeria and all partners for the progress made so far and our solidarity in pushing for inclusion and equality for all amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“However, we have an unfinished business in pursuing rights and choices for all. Now is the time to act to ensure that every woman and young person is able to exercise her reproductive health and rights. 

“This strategic meeting provides us with the opportunity to critically review and assess our progress towards the achievement of the commitments, while at the same time ensuring that the lesson learned are noted and built upon to accelerate progress towards the realization of the transformative results.

“I urge us all to use the findings of the first report of the high commission to inform our interventions targeted at achieving the three zeros. 

“As we review and take stock of our progress, I urge us to highlight the innovative approaches that have been implemented to scale up our efforts in view of the pandemic; as well as innovations that will be implemented ahead of the 2030 target.”

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