We’re targeting more 3m children for free feeding, says Buhari

• PDP, group seek better deal for kid

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, said his administration was expanding the homegrown school feeding programme by targeting additional three million children for a free daily meal.

He made the disclosure at an event to mark the 2021 Children’s Day celebration organised by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Social Development Secretariat in Abuja.

Represented by the FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, the President said the menace of out-of-school children was being given attention through a comprehensive programme where the affected kids are enrolled in school and supported to continue their education wherever they are.

He disclosed that a full range of social intervention programmes would be deployed across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government to achieve the vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030.

Buhari noted that the goal was to ensure that in the next 10 years, there would be less out-of-school children and more infants exposed to quality nutrition.

The Nigerian leader called on state governments and security agencies to rededicate themselves to the Safe School Declaration project to safeguard the kids against attacks.

He directed MDAs, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), international partners, religious leaders, traditional rulers, teachers and parents to ensure total protection and development of the children.

“The Nigerian child remains the most treasured goal for peace and a productive nation,” Buhari added.

Also speaking, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Rushnan Murtaza, urged Nigerians to see the occasion as an opportunity to commit to the wellbeing of children in policy and practice, as well as put enforceable measures in place to protect their interest.

According to Murtaza, children are protected when they are registered at birth, urging the government to make the process easier for vulnerable families.

RELATED to that, a group, Save the Children International (SCI), has sought innovative local solutions, strategies and International cooperation to redress the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on children.

In a statement, the organisation’s International Nigeria Girl Champion, Purity Oriaifo, said the virus was threatening to push millions of kids into acute food insecurity, limited education and protection service, hence the need to urgently reverse the trend.

Also yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) charged President Buhari to, immediately, put in place machinery to check rising cases of out-of-school children.

In a goodwill message by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the main opposition party lamented that in Nigeria, “this day of celebration has become a sad epitaph of the harsh conditions which Nigerian children have been subjected to in the last six years under President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).”

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