Brigadier General Johnson Olawumi, the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, on Wednesday said more than one million persons have signed up to participate in the UNICEF Millennium Development Goal survey.
Olawumi disclosed this when Jean Gough, the UNICEF Country Director in Nigeria, visited him at the NYSC Headquarters in Abuja.
According to him, UNICEF gave the corps one year to mobilise one million youths in Nigeria to sign up, but that the NYSC had exceeded the target.
He said: “Nigeria was given a target of mobilising about one million U-reporters within a year and even before the end of the year, we have not only met that target, but exceeded it.
“Corps members were charged with the responsibility of mobilising people in their communities of service and even those at the grassroots who will become U-reporters.
“It is in appreciation of the efforts of these young men and women who participated in the mobilisation and Nigeria’s contribution towards the success of the U-report that UNICEF has visited.”
Olawumi said the U-report was launched by the UNICEF to assess the actualisation of the MDGs in Nigeria and the level of development achieved down to the grassroots.
According to him, the report will bring a closure to the MDGs programme and birth the Sustainable Development Goals programme.
He said a total of 17 countries from Africa and Asia were participating in the programme.
Olawumi reiterated the contribution of the scheme towards national and international development in the areas of agriculture, health, infrastructural development and education among others.
He said: “The NYSC was established about 42 years ago and since its establishment it have been contributing a lot to national development in the areas of education, agriculture, health and other national programmes.
“We played a prominent role in the last general elections and we started that a long time ago.
“We have also made our contribution towards international development by participating in the MDG poverty war programme and campaign in the spread of HIV/AIDS, among others.”
Olawumi said the scheme contributed to the MDGs and it would be relevant in the successful implementation of the proposed SDGs.
He promised that the NYSC would continue to support the objectives of UNICEF in order to achieve its goals.
He urged the country director to incorporate officers of the scheme in its activities and programmes as they were skilled, experienced and knowledgeable about matters involving the youths.
Gough had earlier commended Nigeria for not only achieving the one year target of mobilising one million U-reporters but also exceeding the number.
She also commended the partnership and contributions of the NYSC in achieving the UNICEF goals and objective in Nigeria.
She said: “New York and all UNICEF offices worldwide are happy with Nigeria and we commend your achievements.
“We have been working with the NYSC to see how we can strengthen community participation in decision making and the U-report will help us get information on health, education and other areas.
“Now that we have achieved the target we can move on to the next step.
“We want to continue to work together using this tool so as to ensure that Nigeria is able to deliver in the well being of children.
“This is a tool with the objective at ensuring that the child can get the health service that is needed and if the survey shows that this is not happening we will find better methods to ensure this is achieved.”
The country director called on policy makers in the country to make efforts at ensuring that the system was conducive in achieving the goal.
She said there was the need to make the change required in order to deliver on the well being of children who were the future.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that UNICEF in 2014 launched ‘U-report’, a free SMS-based communication technology in its quest to develop the Nigerian community.
The U-report was developed to engage Nigerians towards establishing and enforcing accountability in governance, health, education, environment and other areas of community endeavour through social mobilisation.
The initiative allows eyewitnesses to report cases of anomalies directly to UNICEF via text messages and the issues will be treated accordingly.
The initiative was established to give Nigerians an opportunity to hold government officials responsible in the area of actualising the MDGs.