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Lack Of Safe Learning Space For Girl-Child Worries Group

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The Community Led Collective Action for Girls’ Education (C-CAGE) says, an urgent intervention is needed in schools in the northeast for the provision of water, hygiene and toilet facilities in order to mitigate the girl-child’s chances of dropping out of school.
The group says there are chances that over 20million girls might drop out of school due to the impact of Covid-19, hence all stakeholders need to work together to address the social, cultural and systemic factors inhibiting the girl-child’s access to education in the north east, Nigeria.
The group says, it has worked with relevant bodies to train 275 education stakeholders, and that it has created 16 safe spaces for girls in Adamawa which has led to about 960 enrollments of girls to school, saying these safe spaces have made it possible for about 606 in-school and out-of-school girls to be engaged in peer learning and experience sharing.
This was made known in a press statement by the groups, Senior Programme Manager, Lawal Amodu, yesterday in Yola, Adamawa State.
While addressing newsmen, Amodu said, “In Nigeria, limited access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a major barrier preventing girls from learning.
“Schools lack washrooms and poor conditions force girls to leave school grounds to attend to their sanitary needs, thereby increasing the likelihood of them being dropouts.
“To effectively address the out of school girl challenge, Centre LSD has advocated to key stakeholders in the education sector, held town-hall meetings with key gatekeepers and media engagements, build capacity of selected education stakeholders and established safe spaces for in-school and out-of-school girls for the purpose of peer learning and experience sharing between and amongst the girls.”
He added that, “Beyond this, Centre LSD has engaged and trained 275 key education stakeholders comprising traditional/religious leaders, PTA and SBMC in selected communities of the three focal local government areas (LGAs) of Maiha, Numan and Song.
“The beneficiaries of this training have taken the knowledge received further by stepping down the training to other members of the community. For us, this has further deepened the awareness on the need for girl-child education in the areas.
“Today, we can confidently report that these engagements have resulted in the enrolment of 960 girls to school in some communities in the LGAs.
“Also, a total of 16 safe spaces have been established with 606 in-school and out-of-school girls peer learning and sharing experiences and skills from one another twice in a month.
“The results of these activities led to an upsurge in the number of enrolment of girls who dropped out previously due to factors relating to poverty, cultural norms and insecurity.”
Speaking on the group’s progress, Amodu said, “At the inception of the project, the precarious situation of out-of-school children in Adamawa State indicated that the state accounted for 51 percent of the 60 percent out-of-school children in the North-East.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women and girls.
“Malala Fund’s latest research estimates that 20million more secondary school-aged girls could be out-of-school after the Covid-19 crisis has abated. The implication of this will be enormous for our society.
“The current schools safety realities as there relate to the Covid-19 regulations require an urgent intervention as clean water, toilets and hygiene which are essential components of the regulations are grossly lacking.”
The group while commending the Governor Ahmadu Fintiri-led Adamawa State Government for its free education policy, drew the government’s attention to some hidden charges exerted upon students and its inconsistent implementation in rural and urban areas, where school fees are still exerted in the former.
Amodu said, “While we commend the state government for its commitment to free education in the state and its effort at removing financial burden of examination fees off the students, particularly those writing their Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE), government must continue to monitor and ensure the full implementation of the free education programme across the state.
“The reality of free education seems to be effective in the state capitals while the same cannot be said of the rural areas where it is needed most.
“Another major challenge identified relates to the burden of hidden charges levied on students in various schools in the focal communities by the principals in conjunction with the schools’ PTA.
“These levies are not only problematic to some of the parents and guardians but also have the capacity to de-motivate in-school students from continuing their education while also discouraging potential returnee out-of-school girls from enrolment.
“Meanwhile, this is happening in the face of the free basic education for all enshrined in the UBE Act 2004 and taken forward by the Government of Adamawa State.
“Such charges have the capacity to de-motivate children who are willing to go to school but cannot afford the levies.”
The project is being implemented in the three Senatorial Districts of Adamawa State with three focal local government areas of Numan in the South, Song at the Central and Maiha in the North.

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North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.

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Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?

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Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.

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2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”

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