ON Assumption of office , the Plateau State government led by Simon Lalong vowed to ameliorate the plight of the downtrodden in the society, especially children. Speaking through his Commissioner for Women Affairs, Rufina Gurumyen recently, he explained that issues concerning the rights of children in the society cannot be over emphasized. The commissioer said as one of the mandates of the present administration in the Ministry of Women Affairs is to collaborate with child protection network in the state to strengthen child rights system as an effective tool for implementation. It could be recalled that worried by the high rate of rape and other forms of violence against children in Plateau State, the state government and United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) partnered towards eradicating the menace. The state government had released a data revealing that no fewer than 50 cases of rape of all sexes have been reported in the past four months in the state. Addressing newsmen ahead of the launch of a campaign to end Violence Against Children in Jos, Mrs.Rufina Guruyen said the available record in her ministry revealed 5O recent cases of rape in the state, adding that the process of getting the data had been painstaking because parents of the victims of rape were not keen on disclosing the acts for fear of stigmatisation. The commissioner who said her ministry was working towards ensuring that justice was done to all reported cases, enjoined parents in the state to oblige the ministry with information of rape with the aim of bringing the perpetrators to book and serving as deterrent to others Speaking earlier, United Nations Children’s  Fund (UNICEF) Communication Officer, Media and External Relations, Mr Samuel Kaalu,  said approximately 6 out of every 10 children in the country experienced some form of physical, emotional or sexual violence before the age of 18,annually. He said research and findings revealed that violence against children are on the increase in the country. “One in two children experiences physical violence; one in four girls and one in ten boys experiences sexual violence; and one in six girls and one in five boys experiences emotional violence.” Kaalu commended government of Plateau State for standing against violence against children, adding that Plateau was the fourth state in Nigeria to respond to the call made by President Muhammadu Buhari during the launch of the National Action to End Violence Against Children during which every state in Nigeria initiated its own campaign. EndVAC is a national child protection campaign funded by the United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) and Plateau State government keyed into it following President Buhari’s directive to all states to initiate the programme. Similarly speaking to newsmen during the monthly press briefing recently, the commissioner for Information and Communication, Mallam Nazif Muhammed said, “The present administration is especially supportive of activities that, among others, promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this regard, it has supported the many efforts designed to protect the child, such as the formation of the Technical Working Group (TWG) on violence against children”. “Furthermore, the state government developed the State specific Priority Actions across sectors relevant to child protection, following which the final document was launched by the state governor in September 2016. Training for MDAs, CSOs, CPN, FBOs and other stakeholders has also been undertaken in collaboration with UNICEFThis is aimed at equipping stakeholders with the skill to handle cases of violence against children in the state. “To empower women and girls under its skills development program, the state government has  trained nineteen of them  in knitting, sewing, cosmetology, catering and bead making at the end of which they received some support for take-off. And, in collaboration with the Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation, 100 women and youths also underwent training in catering, fabric, dyeing, poultry and cosmetics. “A partnership was also entered into with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to train 60 women/youths in garment making and catering. The state government  in collaboration with the Plateau Aids Control Agency, assisted by the World Bank enrolled 50 Persons Living With HIV/AIDS, orphans and vulnerable children and care-givers for training in the following as a form of empowerment: tailoring, knitting, shoe- making, catering, hair dressing and computer application. The beneficiaries were selected across the 17 local government areas” he said. Similarly, it could be recalled that the Lalong led administration had said it would continue to support the welfare and well being of the aged in the state, especially as regards their healthy being and social welfare in all the seventeen local government areas of the state. Mrs. Guruyen made this known while speaking at the celebration of the day of the Elderly in Jos the state capital. She said “The International Day for the Elderly people is a day supported by the United Nations to encourage people to work harder to improve the lives of our ageing Population”. She noted that the state government isrelentless in its drive to ensure a healthy life for the elderly adding that bringing the old people together once yearly to socialise is one of the strategy government is employing to boost their morale. The commissioner added that the celebration also affords the state government the opportunity to focus attention on the health and psychological needs of the elderly and how to assist them. “This is why we have brought together medical personnels to screen and treat our elderly for various ailments and to educate the aged  on healthy living”. The commissioner also urged people of the state to take very good care of the elderly just as she vowed that the state government will do all within its reach to ensure sound health for the aged in the state. “Taking a stand against Ageism is apt because of the challenges our senior citizens face despite the fact that they have paid their dues. Majority of our elders are not receiving the emotional care they require. Some do not have friends or family members to help them out of some cases. This is often due to children not being around their elders as much as they should be”. Also speaking at the occasion, the Wife of the governor Mrs Regina Lalong, who was represented by the Senior Special Adviser on Women Affairs to Gov Lalong, Felicia Yakzum, said we need the elderly to continue to pray for us. She stressed that the Lalong-led administration would also continue to support the elderly at times. Our correspondent observed then that  the medical checkup provided to the elderly include malaria , urinalysis , blood pressure, hepatitis among others.

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