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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed its preparedness to partner with the administration of Dr. Peter Mbah as soon as he takes over office as the governor of Enugu State on May 29 in the areas of provision of safe and clean water, access to healthcare for women and children, primary education, and sanitation in the state.
This was disclosed during the week in Enugu when the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Ms Christian Munduate, led a delegation of top officials of the multilateral agency to the governor-elect at the Old Government Lodge, Enugu.
This was even as the incoming administration warned that it would no longer tolerate unprofessional conduct, unauthorized absence from duties and other forms of misconduct from health workers including other public servants who are on the payroll of the government especially in rural communities.
The soon-to-be inaugurated administration expressed disappointment in the attitude of some workers on government pay, stressing that their unscheduled visits to some of the healthcare facilities in rural areas revealed that staff were frequently absconding from their duty posts for as long as they wish and promised that the new government would bring such attitude to an end with reward and sanction mechanisms.
While conveying Dr. Mbah’s goodwill message to Ms. Munduate and her team, the Deputy Governor-elect, Barr. Ifeanyi Ossai, who represented him, appreciated the world body for its years of dedicated selfless service in the state, Nigeria and Africa at large, saying the uncommon gesture, which has been transforming the continent, would never be taken for granted.
He said Mbah’s administration would focus its priority on the empowerment of women and children in order to have a stable and responsible society.
According to him, Mbah has strong and robust programmes for children and adolescents whose welfare and training are fundamental to nation-building through the inculcation of the right values, skills and education.
Ossai pointed at the well-spelled-out policies and programmes contained in their manifesto deliberately committed to children and young ones to deal with the disturbing issues of maternal and infant mortalities, school dropouts, corruption in the system and skills impartation.
He further stated that the “Cross-cutting programme” which includes the cut-off point agenda contained in the Social Charter was designed to catch those children at the ages of 3, 4 and above and equip them with the right moral values and skills that would engender a healthy and balance society with an urgent reform in the education curriculum.
The incoming administration appealed to the international organization to assist the government with the facilities, technical expertise, support, and funds to ensure women and children have access to safe and clean water, education, infrastructure, sanitation and quality healthcare facilities.
While further briefing the delegation on their avowal to invest less on soft issues such as conferences and seminars and look at the critical sectors that were in dire need of intervention, Ossai maintained that the recently constituted transition committee had been given the mandate to revisit reports of past conferences and seminars on women and children and “unearth practical steps on how to ensure reduction in maternity and infant mortality rate, how to revive access to health and maternal healthcare for women and children, ensure there’s water both in the urban and rural communities, engage women association and form them into cooperatives to reorient them on healthcare system.”
Reacting to Mbah’s address, Munduate commended the people for electing young and energetic team that would lead the state by providing good governance in the coming years, adding that Mbah had marshalled clear pathway to catering for the welfare of children and adolescents.
“I am impressed with your clarity of thought for women and children, and indeed, your subjects in general. We find this as an opportunity to share ideas where children and adolescents are being prioritized,” the Country Representative added.
She pledged that UNICEF would provide the needed robust structure and technical capacity to ensure the state works in its full capacity in the areas already highlighted by the administration.
“Our best asset is our technical capacity. We’ll work with you with our robust structure and technical department. We’ll provide you with the data on health and nutrition, birth and date rate, and other human resource and technical support,” she said.
“On water, the Country Representative reiterated the importance of having sustainable safe and clean water for the state even as she acknowledged that most sources of water were contaminated due to open defecation and poor sanitation.
She said UNICEF specialized technical support would be deployed to assist the government in the area of harvesting quality water, adding that enough water supply could engender the declaration of this year as an open defecation free year.
She equally maintained that the organization is open to hitting the ground running once the administration is inaugurated by partnering with it on key needs that would facilitate and ensure cover for children, adolescents and young people.