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Coalition urges Buhari to review budget cut on social services

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A coalition of non-governmental organisations, including Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Malala Fund and Connected Development (CODE) have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to reassess the unprecedented budget cuts on social services.

It lamented that the appropriation for Universal Basic Education (UBE) had been reduced to 54 per cent, Ministry of Education 20 per cent and Basic Healthcare Fund (BHCF) 42.5 per cent.

According to the coalition, the decision to withhold critical social spending, while reportedly approving renovation of the National Assembly complex that will gulp N9 billion will disproportionately affect Nigeria’s most marginalised children, particularly girls living in the poorest households in rural areas, especially the northern region.

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Other groups in the coalition are Restoration of Hope Initiative (ROHI) ACE Charity, Youth Hub Africa, Hallmark Leadership Initiative, Centre for Girls Education, Centre LSD, Education as a Vaccine and the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA).

They noted that schools across the country closed on March 19, 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, forcing 36 million enrolled students out of school.

“They join an estimated 13.2 million primary school-aged children who were out of school before the pandemic hit. For many girls, this one temporary hiatus to their education risks becoming permanent,” they said.

In a statement, Malala Fund representative in Nigeria, Crystal Ikanih-Musa, said “Malala Fund estimates up to 10 million girls globally will not return to their classrooms once the pandemic passes because they would possibly be lost to child marriage, pregnancy, gender-based violence and child labour.

“The government must plan now to safeguard Nigeria’s youth and sustain progress made towards Agenda 2030 and SDG 4.”

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