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The Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume said this at the official launch/flag-off of the ‘Back to school jump start’ project in Lagos.

The empowerment programme with the theme: ‘No school left behind in Surulere, was initiated by the Office of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and funded by the National Lottery Trust Fund.

Over 40 Junior and Senior Secondary Schools in Surulere Federal Constituency will benefit from the intervention in the 1st Phase of the programme.

Akume, who was represented by Mr Bello Maigari, commended the Speaker and the National Lottery Trust Fund for the initiative, saying the programme is heart-warming and commendable.

He said: “It is an honour to be here this morning at this special occasion of the official launch of the school’s empowerment programme initiated by the Office of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and funded by the National Lottery Trust Fund.

“I commend the National Lottery Trust Fund for providing the resources to facilitate the implementation of this remarkable initiative, whose idea I was told is to help increase the learning capacity in our public schools currently lagging behind as a result of poor access to digital learning infrastructure and other critical facilities.

“Today’s event is true, a cause for celebration, which underscores the commitment, determination and promise of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in improving the capacity of our students to learn and excel in their studies using technology and e-learning facilities to scale-up their performance in age-grade examinations and competitions.”

“We are all aware of the enormous devastation caused to human lives around the world by Corona Virus, Moreso in its revolutionary impact on learning.

“The fact that public schools are lacking in basic teaching and e-learning infrastructure further compounded by the pandemic should be a matter of concern to all policy-makers and leaders, and therefore, it has become imperative to the government to intervene so that children of poor are not left behind in learning.

“It is on the strength of this effort that I encourage the Fund to continue on this laudable path and ensure the full monitoring of the project so that outcomes envisaged for the programme are delivered for the benefit of Nigerians.

“Lottery is a wealth generation, and Nigeria’s gaming market is the fastest growing in Africa with sales revenues approaching 2 Trillion Naira annually.

“Given the potential in this industry and its capacity to generate jobs, increase the nation’s GDP and improve her social wellbeing, the government will not be deterred in pushing for reforms that are critical in shaping the growth of the industry for the benefit of Nigerians.

“Accordingly, the government will continue to work constructively with the National Assembly to put forward legislation that will support the process of revitalizing the industry that hold great promise for Nigeria in raising enormous revenues for national development and creating job opportunities that would help to actualize President Muhammadu Buhari led government’s pledge of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.

For instance, the effort to repeal the National lottery Act, 2005 and 2017 (as Amended) with the National Gaming Act, 2022 will end inefficiencies in the industry and also strengthen the capacity of the two agencies created under the extant law (i.e the National lottery Regulatory Commission and the National Lottery Trust Fund) to exercise their statutory responsibilities and curtail revenue losses to the government.

“We have a clear vision to transform lottery in this country and the current exercise to automate tax collections through the deployment of a Central Monitoring System is meant to strengthen revenue generation, promote standards and enhance the regulatory oversight in the industry.

“I, therefore, appeal to all stakeholders including the National Assembly to support the effort of government in making this flagship project a reality for the nation.

In the same vein, the government has taken proactive steps by recovering outstanding liabilities due from the sector, whilst also ensuring prompt remittances from operators and permit holders in line with the extant law.

“On this note, let me urge all licenses and permit-holders to without further delay pay up their outstanding liabilities or risk revocation of their licenses and permits.”