Tinubu launches African First Ladies’ education campaign

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President Bola Tinubu on Monday launched a campaign to promote inclusive education, skill development, and gender equity.

The campaign tagged, #WeAreEqual, is an initiative of the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD).

The campaign has been launched in 15 African countries in different iterations, focusing on health, education, economic empowerment, and gender-based violence.

The Nigerian component of the programme is tagged, ‘Education as a Powerful Tool for Change’, championed by the First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, CON.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign at the State House, President Tinubu saluted the commitment of African First Ladies, as members of OAFLAD, to advance gender equality and narrow the gender gap across the continent.

“This campaign holds significant importance for us in Africa. I, therefore, congratulate you all, particularly my dear wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the First Lady of Nigeria, who has chosen education as a primary tool to champion this campaign nationwide.

“The focus of the launch of this campaign in Nigeria, ‘Education as a Powerful Tool for Change’ is critical for Africa’s development, if we are to attain gender equity and ensure equal opportunities for all.

“We must continue to create opportunities for all our children to access quality education without leaving anyone behind, particularly the girl child. We must engender a society where everyone has the same opportunities, regardless of who they are, because doing that leads to a stronger and more peaceful society for all,” the President said.

President Tinubu noted that the launch of the campaign in Nigeria coincides with the re-introduction of the Alternative High School for Girls advanced by the First Lady, adding that this initiative offers a second chance to young girls, who have dropped out of school, to continue their education and fulfill their dreams and aspirations.

“I am happy to note that the foundation stone of one of the schools was recently laid in Osun State, in western Nigeria, by the First Lady. More schools are underway across the country, supported by state governments, the federal government through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and other development partners.

“As governor of Lagos State, before I became President of Nigeria from May 29, 2023, I witnessed first hand, how societal challenges, such as unwanted teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, human trafficking and drug addiction can obstruct the promising future of young girls.

“Indeed, the re-introduction of Alternative High School for Girls by the First Lady of Nigeria must have received inspiration from the successful implementation of a similar initiative in Lagos State during my tenure as governor,” the President said.

President Tinubu emphasized that education is the cornerstone of national development and that when girls are empowered to pursue their dreams, communities thrive, economies prosper, and nations succeed.

He said it is, therefore, incumbent on all stakeholders to continue to take bold and decisive actions to eliminate the structural inequalities that hold women back on the continent.

“We must be conscious of the fact that the empowerment of women and girls is essential to achieving each of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We must work together to promote laws and policies that protect and promote women’s rights, invest in girls’ education and skills development, and create economic opportunities that are accessible to all.

“For us in Nigeria, the full operationalization of the Student’s Loan (Access to Higher Education) Act is key to achieving these goals as it will ensure that all young people have unhindered access to education.

“The Nigerian government, through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, is also implementing a N50,000 non-repayable grant programme for one million Nigerians in Nano businesses and skilled trades, including women and youth,” President Tinubu said.

The President also said his administration will continue to work to end gender-based violence and increase learning opportunities for girls, in safe and conducive environments, adding: “These measures will enable more women succeed in different vocations and properly shape their future endeavours, from politics to engineering, science, technology, sports, and the creative economy.”

President Tinubu reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that no Nigerian child is excluded from quality education that prepares women and girls to lead and bring positive change to communities.

“Let us carry forward this campaign, which promises to gift an educated girl-child the potential to bring the necessary change and transform African communities for the better.

“It is now my honour to launch the (#) We Are Equal Campaign in Nigeria. I wish you all a fruitful deliberation. I enjoin you to enjoy your stay in our beautiful country,” the President concluded.