Courtesy Call by Ms Cristian Munduate (UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative) to Government House, Dutse (His Excellency’s Remarks)

Protocols

We are delighted by yet another historic visit to Jigawa State by the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Ms Cristian Munduate and her esteemed team members. As I always say, UNICEF is the oldest and most consistent Development Partner collaborating with and supporting the efforts of successive Governments in the Jigawa State in the delivery of basic social services especially those that promotes the survival, protection and development of women and children. For over three decades, UNICEF has continued to provide support in such areas as Health & Nutrition, Basic Education, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, social policy development, and Social Protection interventions among others.

2. The main highlight of today’s visit is the handing-over and commencement of distribution of over 12,400 Cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) – that life-saving magic food being used for the treatment of severe wasting among malnourished children. The RUTF consignment worth about N500 million was procured under a Matching Fund arrangement between the Jigawa State Government and UNICEF’s Child Health Grant with a 1:1 funding ratio. We are also leveraging on this auspicious visit by the Country Representative to carry out the foundation laying ceremony for the revitalization of thirty (30) Primary Healthcare Facilities across each of the 30 State Constituencies in the State.

3. The collaborative efforts with the UNICEF leading to the delivery of this high-quality therapeutic food for the treatment of hundreds of malnourished children in our centers for Community Management of Acute Malnutrition is, indeed, very timely as the product is almost out of stock in our over seventy (70) CMAM Centers spread all over the State. The intervention is also in line with our commitments to address concerns raised in the report on the “Situation Analysis” of Children in Jigawa. Specifically, these concerns include ensuring nutrition security for our children given the unfavorable statistics on such nutrition indices as wasting and stunting among children in the State. We are, more than ever before, committed to doing whatever is necessary to change the narratives by sustaining and improving on all ongoing nutrition programs including the ongoing collaboration with UNICEF, to ensure that no child in the State is allowed to experience hunger and malnutrition. We all believe, the biggest tragedy that could happen to a child is to be afflicted with malnutrition at the formative stage of his or her life as the consequences of such an affliction are irreversible. With a hampered cognitive capacity, the child is prevented from attaining his or her full potentials in life. In addition to these collaborations, we also remain committed to sustaining and improving on our homegrown Masaki Nutrition Program which was meant to leverage on locally available recipes with significant and positive impact on child nutrition.

4. I recalled when the Country Rep. visited Jigawa State in October last year, UNICEF was about to commence the implementation of new EU-Funded Education and Youths Empowerment (EYE) Project. I am delighted that implementation of this Program has commenced in four hundred and seventy (470) schools evenly spready across ten (10) Local Governments Areas of the State. I am aware that several capacity building programs were undertaken for Teachers and School-based Management Committees and including a scale-up of the Nigeria Learning Passport. These, I firmly believe, will support the efforts of the State Government in improving the teaching and learning environment and the quality of education delivery in the targeted schools. These will also engender community participation and instill a sense of ownership in the management of our schools.

5. As we all know, one of the persisting challenges in the basic education sector has been the issue of out-of-school children which is significantly impacting negatively on our child protection initiatives. While believing that the Youths Empowerment component of the EU-supported EYE Program will address this challenge, let me urge UNICEF to give this aspect of the Program the maximum attention it deserves. Soon, we expect the State Legislature to pass a Bill establishing the Tsangaya Board the focus of which will be the Traditional/Non-formal Qur’anic Boarding Schools which will also integrate literacy and numeracy programs under basic education. In the same vein, I will urge that the EYE Program work closely with Tsangaya Board when it comes on Board and the Ministry of Women Affairs which has mandates around Child Protection issues.

6. Let me also use this opportunity to inform the UNICEF Country Representative that on Thursday, I will be accenting an Executive Bill passed into Law by the Jigawa State House of Assembly amending the Law which establishes the Jigawa State Contributory Health Insurance Management Agency (JCHMA). One of the major amendments in the Law is the establishment of “Health Equity Fund” to allow for the pooling of financial resources for the purpose of gradual expansion of healthcare coverage for vulnerable and indigent populations and to cater for other health emergencies in the State. The Law provides for a minimum annual contribution of N1.0 billion into the Fund by the State Government. This will be in addition to contributions envisaged from other sources including the Local Governments; the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund; the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, as well as Contributions, Grants and Donations from International Development Partners, Private Sector Organizations, and Local/International Non-Governmental Organizations. Once I accented the Bill, further appropriate actions would be taken to develop the necessary guidelines to operationalize the implementation of this aspect of the amended Law.

7. As a proactive measure, we have already commenced enrolment of 500 eligible individuals from poor and vulnerable households across each of the 287 Political Wards in the State to benefit from the expanded Community Health Insurance Program. I am highly delighted with the news that UNICEF has also provided a grant of about N360 million to expand the community health insurance program in Six Local Governments comprising of Dutse, Buji, Gwaram, Birniwa, Kafin-Hausa and Kiyawa being the so called “zero dose” LGAs as selected by UNICEF itself. As I was informed, this will cover 3,300 eligible enrollees evenly selected from the Six LGAs for a period of one year. On behalf of the people from Jigawa State and most especially, the enrollees from these LGAs, I most profoundly thank UNICEF and the Country Representative for this very laudable intervention.

8. Finally, I would once more, place on record that UNICEF is indeed a major longstanding partner supporting the human development initiatives of the Jigawa State Government particularly around the survival, protection and development of women, children and other vulnerable groups. We are profoundly delighted that our partnerships with UNICEF and the scope of development support rendered to State are ever expanding and waxing stronger. We also remain ever committed to these very enduring partnerships across all areas ranging from child nutrition to basic education and other child protection initiatives among others. On behalf of the Government and People of Jigawa State, on behalf of all the children and women in the State, and on behalf of all the vulnerable groups, we profoundly thank and appreciate UNICEF for the continued support. We remain deeply appreciative of the Country Representative. Ms Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Nigeria and all the staff in the Kano Field Office.

9. Thank You. God Bless UNICEF, God Bless Jigawa State and God Bless Nigeria.

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