By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The management of the National Youth Service Corps has commended a non-governmental organisation, Sexual Offences Awareness and Victims Rehabilitation Initiative (SOAR), for its efforts in combating the menace of child sexual abuse in Nigeria.
Mr. Y.S Ehoda-Adi, a director at the NYSC gave the commendation last week at a close ceremony of a youth advocacy project against child sexual abuse in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and Benue State.
Represented by Mr. Sunday Onyeke, Ehoda-Adi said SOAR had demonstrated “great commitment and dedication” in using corps members as advocates to tackle rampant cases of sexual abuse of minors in the two states.
He pledged the NYSC’s continued collaboration with SOAR to deal with social ills in the country.
“The programme and intention of SOAR are quite genuine. I commend and congratulate them for meeting the NYSC criteria for collaboration, which led to the approval of the exercise where we deployed corps members for the laudable programme.
“We are ready to deploy our human resource; corps members to any worthy cause,” Ehoda-Adi pledged.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Executive Director, SOAR Initiative, Chinyere Eyoh, explained that the youth advocacy project against child sexual abuse focused on mobilising and empowering youth in the FCT and Benue State, under the NYSC scheme, to raise awareness in communities about child sexual abuse and link survivors to relevant Civil Society Organisations engaged under the project.
Eyoh revealed that the project which was funded by the French embassy in Nigeria, had corps members who were trained as and provided information and tools to raise awareness in the various local governments where they were posted for their primary assignments.
“They carried out their activities as child sexual abuse advocates either as individual projects or as collectively under SOAR sub-units of their community development service groups in their various LGAs.
“The project also built the capacity of NYSC officials to understand other child protection and child right issues in terms of prevention and response to sexual abuse,” she said.
The SOAR Initiative boss listed the targeted areas in Abuja to include: Garki Area, Wuse Area, Karu and Gwagwalada; while Benue had Oju, Makurdi, Logo, Gboko,Buruku, Ukum, Otukpo, Kwande, Ushongo, Ogbadibo, Konshisha and Guma LGAs.
In terms of the reach of the project, Eyo disclosed, “a total number of 8, 735 people was reached out to in FCT, while a total of 12, 941 people was reached in Benue State.”