Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Honorable minister of education,
Other dignitaries here present,
Representatives of other NGOs,
Members of the press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to speak to you this morning, to welcome you most cordially at the official opening of this great occasion. This event is the culmination of an enormous collective effort which began in 2004 when Visions for Nigeria Foundation was birthed. From that moment, many institutions and individuals contributed in one form or another towards achieving the goals of the organization. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all those who in one way or the other assisted in the original initiative to building the organization into what it is today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Visions for Nigeria Foundation is a nongovernmental organization established in 2004 with the aim of building capacity for youths, orphans and vulnerable people with a view to engaging them as agents of change in their communities and Nigeria at large. We engage in activities that empower youths for self-actualization through provision of qualitative education, health services and economic development while working with volunteers and partners. Visions for Nigeria foundation has carried out many activities in order to achieve her set objectives.
Visions for Nigeria foundation saw the pressing need to scale up effective community-based care initiatives in order to provide support to increasing numbers of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). The lack of education and educational opportunities makes orphaned children particularly vulnerable to trafficking, child labour, sexual abuse, and exposure to HIV/AIDS, crime, STIs and others. These children remain one of the most overlooked and vulnerable group of children in every society with their protection and education frequently or fully neglected by their communities and the society at large. The organization therefore came up with the School an Orphan program (SCANO) at Budupe, a sub-rural in Shere District, Bwari Area Council, Abuja, which is targeted at educating orphaned children ranging from ages 5-12. The aim of the project is to offer these children the opportunity not just to go to school but to help the children stay in school thereby reducing vulnerabilities.
The Foundation in partnership with Society for Family Health and Okpo Ihechiowa Development Union also helped to provide succor to the sick and needy in Ihechiowa community in Abia state and Kabusa village in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja through free medical outreach as an avenue to reach out to the vulnerable and less privileged. The medical outreach includes: Sensitization campaign on health tips, Eye screening, Medical diagnosis, Anti-diabetics drugs, Anti-fungal drugs, Anti-malaria drugs and safety treated mosquito nets, Anti-hypertensive drugs, Anti-biotic drugs, Food supplement, Arthritic drugs, Diarrhea/constipation drugs, Multivitamins tabs/caps.
The organization has actively participated in a lot of conferences and workshops held within the country. Some of which include a 5-day intensive Media Skills and Communication Workshop on youths and HIV/AIDS organized by USAID and the Federal Ministry of Youth, Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs at Sharon Ultimate Hotel, Abuja in May 2006, NAFDAC and UNICEF organized 3 day workshop on child food supplement guidelines and the Peace and Conflict Resolution Strategy for the 2007 Elections in Nigeria, in Markudi, Benue State, organized by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution in collaboration with UNDP. With all these remarkable achievements, we acknowledge that we still have a long way to go, and only through a joint effort will we be able to reach our fundamental goal.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There are so many challenges facing our country today. It may appear as if there is no hope for a better tomorrow and that nothing will ever change. It may seem as if the Lord has forgotten us and it may appear that our story is one of recurrent failure and shattered dreams. Yet this is not so. I have come here today to tell us that, despite all we see and hear, it is not over for us as a people and as a nation. Visions for Nigeria Foundation believes that Nigeria would be great again. You and I are the society, and we believe the society made Nigeria (the society) what the society is today. It would take the society (you and I) to make the society what we want the society (Nigeria) to be. All hands must be on deck. Young and old, male and female. It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. Anywhere you see a problem, that is where there is an opportunity for you to make our country kinder and gentler. You are the solutions to these problems. Many of us mothers and fathers have failed you. You must begin now to work towards taking over the reign of leadership. To borrow Miss Kachollom Dalyop’s idea, “leadership begins with me (you) and now”.
Deploy your arsenal to get the solution
We will always reap when we sow. We may not reap what we sow or where we sow but we will always reap when we sow. Go now and sow into your communities, schools, states, societies and Nigeria
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you would agree that our dreams and visions for Nigeria cannot be achieved without the youths of today. This is why a conference like this is of great importance. The earlier we hear and acknowledge their views about their dream for the country Nigeria in terms of expectation and aspiration, the better for us. The elders would not continue to be there. This is why fora like this should be encouraged. My dear students, we from visions for Nigeria foundation are very happy that you are here today. I urge you to feel free to make as many useful contributions as possible towards making our country a kinder gentler nation where peace and unity reigns.
Distinguished guests, let me express, on behalf of the Local Organizing Committee, our most sincere wish that the discussions resulting from this conference will positively contribute to the consolidation of the aim of the Conference which is to make Nigeria a kinder gentler nation.