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...Why we funded Back to School Jump Start Project—NLTF

...Education is the best investment in people—Gbajabiamila

By Dapo Akinrefon

The Federal Government, on Friday, warned licensed lottery companies in the country to pay all outstanding liabilities or they risk the revocation of their licenses.

The Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume said this at the official launch/flag-off of the ‘Back to school jump start’ project in Lagos.

The empowerment programme with the theme: ‘No school left behind in Surulere, was initiated by the Office of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and funded by the National Lottery Trust Fund.

Over 40 Junior and Senior Secondary Schools in Surulere Federal Constituency will benefit from the intervention in the 1st Phase of the programme.

Akume, who was represented by Mr Bello Maigari, commended the Speaker and the National Lottery Trust Fund for the initiative, saying the programme is heart-warming and commendable.

He said: “It is an honour to be here this morning at this special occasion of the official launch of the school’s empowerment programme initiated by the Office of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and funded by the National Lottery Trust Fund.

“I commend the National Lottery Trust Fund for providing the resources to facilitate the implementation of this remarkable initiative, whose idea I was told is to help increase the learning capacity in our public schools currently lagging behind as a result of poor access to digital learning infrastructure and other critical facilities.

“Today’s event is true, a cause for celebration, which underscores the commitment, determination and promise of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in improving the capacity of our students to learn and excel in their studies using technology and e-learning facilities to scale-up their performance in age-grade examinations and competitions.”

“We are all aware of the enormous devastation caused to human lives around the world by Corona Virus, Moreso in its revolutionary impact on learning. The fact that public schools are lacking in basic teaching and e-learning infrastructure further compounded by the pandemic should be a matter of concern to all policy-makers and leaders, and therefore, it has become imperative to the government to intervene so that children of poor are not left behind in learning. It is on the strength of this effort that I encourage the Fund to continue on this laudable path and ensure the full monitoring of the project so that outcomes envisaged for the programme are delivered for the benefit of Nigerians.

“Lottery is a wealth generation, and Nigeria’s gaming market is the fastest growing in Africa with sales revenues approaching 2 Trillion Naira annually.

“Given the potential in this industry and its capacity to generate jobs, increase the nation’s GDP and improve her social wellbeing, the government will not be deterred in pushing for reforms that are critical in shaping the growth of the industry for the benefit of Nigerians.

 “Accordingly, the government will continue to work constructively with the National Assembly to put forward legislation that will support the process of revitalizing the industry that hold great promise for Nigeria in raising enormous revenues for national development and creating job opportunities that would help to actualize President Muhammadu Buhari led government’s pledge of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. For instance, the effort to repeal the National lottery Act, 2005 and 2017 (as Amended) with the National Gaming Act, 2022 will end inefficiencies in the industry and also strengthen the capacity of the two agencies created under the extant law (i.e the National lottery Regulatory Commission and the National Lottery Trust Fund) to exercise their statutory responsibilities and curtail revenue losses to the government.

“We have a clear vision to transform lottery in this country and the current exercise to automate tax collections through the deployment of a Central Monitoring System is meant to strengthen revenue generation, promote standards and enhance the regulatory oversight in the industry. “I, therefore, appeal to all stakeholders including the National Assembly to support the effort of government in making this flagship project a reality for the nation.

 In the same vein, the government has taken proactive steps by recovering outstanding liabilities due from the sector, whilst also ensuring prompt remittances from operators and permit holders in line with the extant law. On this note, let me urge all licenses and permit-holders to without further delay pay up their outstanding liabilities or risk revocation of their licenses and permits.”

Why we funded Back to School Jump Start Project—NLTF

Earlier, Mr Yusuf Tegina who spoke on behalf of the National Lottery Trust Fund, explained why it funded the Back to School Jump Start Project.

Tijani said: “The programme which seeks to help improve the current capacity of schools in the area of good hygiene practice through the provision of basic sanitary and standard modern teaching and learning aid such as laptops, smart tablet fitted e-books for promoting standard in tandem with global best practice.

“Let me also congratulate the 46 benefiting schools in this initial phase of the project and to also re-affirm our commitment to supporting its continuation across the six geo-political zones of the country, though the processes leading to today’s event has not been easy, starting with a thorough review of the submission and a subsequent needs assessment visits by the agency’s team to the selected public schools here in Surulere-Lagos, where it was well established that the provision of this basic instructional and sanitary materials is justified and will without doubt support and provide a conducive atmosphere for learning across the public schools, this became the basis for securing the approval for this unconditional grant to be judiciously utilized and applied by ‘She Foundation’ from the Management and Board of Trustees of the Trust Fund and then subsequently the Ministerial Tenders Board on behalf of the President.

“As you are well aware, the National Lottery Trust Fund is an agency of the Federal Government established under section 35 of the National Lottery Act, 2005. Its mandate is to take custody of 20% of the net proceeds of all national lottery and gaming operations in Nigeria for the execution of good cause projects across the country for the benefit and wellbeing of the citizens of the country.

“In fulfilment of its mandate as an intervention agency established to promote the well-being of the people of our beloved nation through its various good cause projects, the government deem it necessary to provide an unconditional grant to ‘She Foundation’ through lottery good cause to facilitate this project which we are all here gathered to launch. Interestingly, later today the Trust Fund will also be commissioning vital medical equipment donated to Gbaja Randle Hospital Mother and Child Care General Hospital to consolidate on the vital medical equipment earlier donated to Onikan Healthcare Center a few months ago. Similarly, efforts are also ongoing to ensure completion/commissioning of vital medical equipment to General Hospitals Gbagada, Ikene-Remo, Igbora, Ogbomoso, Surulere, Iresa all in the south-west and others across the six geo-political zones of the country.

“The decision by the Federal Government to establish the National Lottery Trust Fund is indicative of a government that recognizes the importance of lottery and gaming as a vehicle in enhancing the social wellbeing of its citizenry through investments in its various lottery good cause intervention projects that are creative, relevant, timely, realistic and economically sustainable with visible practical benefits to society and to continue to do so in a balanced, transparent and cost-effective manner.”

Education is best investment in people—Gbajabiamila

Also speaking, the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila said the initiative was aimed to address the widening of the educational disadvantage heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by Rep Ademorin Kuye, said: “It gives me great joy to be at this unique event, to launch the Jump-Start Project, which aims to digitise the teaching and learning process and inculcate a culture of basic hygiene in schools across the nation.

“The reason for tagging the first leg of the Jump-Start project as “No School Left Behind in Surulere” is to address the widening of the educational disadvantage heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the health implications of the pandemic are all too obvious, its consequences for education are subtle but nonetheless devastating.

As of today, global statistics put the number of deaths from COVID-19 at 6, 089,484. However, statistics are scarce as to how many children have dropped out of school due to the pandemic, especially in countries with developing economies. Even where learning seems to have continued uninterrupted, it is hard to evaluate the educational disadvantages stemming from inadequate infrastructure for virtual teaching. “For students in Nigerian public schools, the lockdown in 2020 was a huge academic setback.

“Thus, the Jump-Start Project is designed to mitigate the disadvantage caused by the lack of digital infrastructure in public schools, as well as ensure that there are no breaks in teaching and learning in the event of future pandemics. Education is the best possible investment in people. It is the silver bullet that lifts people out of poverty, encourages a broader perspective that expands their world view and allows them to engage critically with the questions that determine the course of civilisation, innovation, and human progress.

“In this 21st century, the problems of poverty and war, of healthcare and climate change can only be solved by empowering the greatest number of people to independently seek knowledge and the confidence to challenge settled questions and pursue new approaches to solving old problems.

“As a government, we are committed to building back a better and stronger educational system, which will be resistant to the eventualities of the new normal and personally, I am committed to improve the lives and livelihoods of my constituents through education.

A key to achieving this is the normalisation of digital learning and personal sanitation in public schools. Nigeria, and indeed Africa, has been short-changed by the roll-over effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if the Jump-Start objectives are achieved, we would have taken advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to match up with global educational facilitation.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the National Lottery Trust Fund for buying into the vision of my Office by supporting the Jump-Start Project. As you are aware, the project should span the 6 Geopolitical-Zones, and it is our fervent wish that the National Lottery Trust Fund will support the project to achieve this objective and achieve our goals. I also salute the efforts of the planning committee.

“As we gather, let me remind us that we have come here today to provide the young people of Surulere with the material resources to help them have a better education experience because there is no more important assignment than ensuring our young people have access to good education. This is in keeping with my commitment to my constituents to use the machinery and resources of government to provide quality education that empowers the younger generation and sets them up for success. Indeed, ‘no school is left behind in Surulere’ in this time of digital learning.

I welcome you all once more, and I thank you most sincerely for being here today.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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