Gov. Aliyu pledges to sustain Spotlight Initiative project’s achievements

GOV. Ahmad Aliyu of Sokoto State, has pledged that his administration will sustain the achievements of EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Project and upscale the resilient toward safeguarding women and girls in the state.

Aliyu, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Aminu Dikko, gave the assurance at the project’s closeout and handing over ceremony on Saturday in Sokoto.

He described the achievements as laudable that portrayed the living conditions of women and girls as well as the situation of community action which triggered increased cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) especially in the rural areas.

Aliyu explained that the project’s achievements had pronounced women and girls potentialities, areas of deprivations, culture of silence and norms in the state.

He assured that state government, through its relevant agencies would leverage on the performance and upscale the activities in view of their importance to the development of women and girls.

Aliyu urged the established formations, response teams, law enforcement agencies and groups to maximally support state government with right commitment.

The the State Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Hajia Hadiza Shagari, who was

represented by the Permanent Secretary, Hajia Aisha Dantsoho, said,” the journey has been a very tedious, however, recorded several successes.”

Also speaking, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, described the project as succour to the community and urged s the stakeholders to sustain the momentum.

Abubakar, who was represented by the Wazirin Sokoto, Prof. Sambu Wali-Junaid, said promulgated Child Protection Law, along with Violence Against Persons Protection (VAPP) law were enshrined in line with the religious and cultural provisions in the state.

He assured that the traditional rulers would continue to support the initiative toward protecting people’s lives especially the well-being of women and girls.

Earlier, Mr Ibrahim Sesay, the Chief Child Protection Officer of UNICEF, said more needed to be done to improve the quality of lives of the citizens in recognition of achievements on GBV issues.

Sesay said the project started in Sokoto State as an initiative of the United Nations with funding support from the European Union (EU).

” It envisioned a Nigeria where all women and girls are free from violence and harmful practices in line with SDGs, particularly Goal 5 on Gender Equality and the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).

” Over the last five years, the project with partnership and commitment of the state government has focused on addressing the root causes of gender based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

” Ensuring access to inclusive, timely and quality services for victims and survivors, VAPP law from July 2021 ensured that 75 cases on violence against women and girls were prosecuted, out of which 25 were cases of sexual violence, ” he said.

Sesay added that the development of a standard operating procedure for handling children in conflict with the Law, child victims and witnesses was one of the project’s key recommendations adopted by the Nigerian Police Force.

According to him, the establishment of Nana Khadija One-stop Centre for survivors of GBV in Sokoto offered counselling and medical services to the survivors of GBV.

” The centre has served as a key stakeholder in offering services to survivors of GBV in Sokoto State, with about 1, 292 clients provided with services.

” Maternal Waiting homes established to reduce maternal and prenatal deaths in 4 LGAs, whil about 9,310 women and out-of-school girls successfully graduated from the Accelerated Second Chance Education Programme.

” Community Based Surveillance Committee (CBSC) established with 150 members trained to identify and report cases of Violence Against women and Children (VAW/C) in all 6 focal LGAs in the state,” he said.

Sesay explained that the EU-UN programme had demonstrated a solid model through which multiple stakeholders from government, communities and service providers can synergise.

He urged the partners to work together to address a common goal, and delivering as one, with strong ownership and buy-in from the communities.

A community leader, Alhaji Bawa Sani, Turakin Bodinga, said prior to the coming of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, abuse of women and girls in Sokoto State was considered a norm, adding, ” that narrative had been changed for good.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event witnessed a preview of activities, reactions of success stories from survivors and partners. (NAN)