Kaduna has 900,000 girls within 10-19 age bracket —el-Rufai

Governor  Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has  called for an urgent investment in teenage girls for sustainable development, even as he declared that from survey conducted the state had close to 900,000 girls within the 10-19 age bracket.

Governor el-Rufai, in a statement he personally signed and issued in Kaduna, on Sunday, to mark this year’s 2016 World Population Day, said increased investments should be made in health and education for the benefit of the teenagers who were transiting from childhood to early adulthood.

The governor explained that in many parts of Nigeria, particularly in the North, a girl who had reached puberty might be deemed by her family and community as ready for marriage, pregnancy and childbirth.

He added that his administration had ensured that issues concerning teenage girls were adequately captured in the state development plan (SDP).

He also noted further that the present administration, under his leadership, upheld the universal right of all persons, including teenage girls, to education, health and freedom from violence.

The governor, however, said the voiceless, marginalised and the vulnerable were heard and given the opportunity to be included in all decision-making processes that affected them.

The statement read: “The Kaduna State government appreciates the importance of population issues as a key factor in sustainable development. Therefore, we are delighted to mark the 2016 World Population Day.This is especially true of teenage girls who often faced more challenges than their male counterparts.

The World Population Day lecture, which has as its theme: “Investing in Teenage Girls,”  focused on teenagers were

transiting from childhood to early adulthood, and  required that increased investments be made in health and education for

the benefit of the young.

“With poor education, poor health, and with little or no control over her own body, her future can be derailed, and her potential may never be realised. The challenges and obstacles faced by a teenage girl tend to multiply if she is a member of an ethnic minority, lives in a village or is from a poor household. But when a teenage girl has the power, the means and the information to make her own decisions in life, she is more likely to realise her full potential and become a positive force for change in her home, community and the nation.

“Policies and investments in education and health that empower teenage girls and create economic conditions that lead to jobs are particularly important in countries with large, emerging youth populations such as Nigeria, and particularly, Kaduna State,” the statement added.