President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday launched ‘Protect the Goal’ a campaign designed to motivate young people to embrace positive behavior to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including the Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV).
“Sports is a powerful tool for social change. Time and time again, history has shown us that sports, in general, and football in particular, are uniting factors among our people. I, therefore, wholly support this initiative, which seeks to harness the convening power of football, as a tool to support HIV interventions in our country.
“The prevention of HIV/AIDS, Polio and the reduction of maternal and child mortality have been, and remain core priorities for this administration. Over the years, serving in various capacities, from Bayelsa to Abuja, I have not only witnessed the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on our society, I have also been personally involved, in efforts at addressing the scourge.
“ That is why, in July last year, we hosted the Abuja +12 Special Summit of African Union Heads of States and Governments on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which resolved to implement measures to accelerate the eradication of these diseases in Africa by 2030.
“ I had, at that summit, launched a landmark comprehensive response plan to eradicate HIV/AIDS from Nigeria, beginning with an initiative aimed at getting 80 million Nigerians, tested for HIV in the next two years”, Jonathan said, adding that currently, financial and material resources have already been committed to support the implementation of this programme.
“While we fully support the individual efforts of our various states, I would like to reiterate my call on our State Governors, to own, and take the lead, in HIV response, in their respective states. Effective coordination of this initiative is well in line with the Agenda of Transformation of a better health for our citizens.
“ Although there are encouraging signs of progress, we are not satisfied. It is in this regard that I am inviting all key stakeholders at the federal, state and LGA levels, to unite around a national plan, the President’s Comprehensive Response Plan (PCRP), against HIV/AIDS, in order to change the game. I am deeply convinced that when the PCRP is implemented between now and 2015, we will have a more positive story, which the world will acknowledge”, he said.
He called on the Super Eagles to become ‘Protect the Goal’ Ambassadors, in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the improvement of sexual and reproductive health, he said adding that Nigerians have the historic responsibility to protect youths, and the future of Nigeria.
“To our cultural icons from Nollywood, let us ensure that this message gets to all our people, and that the future of this nation will never be compromised by HIV/AIDS, or sexual and reproductive health issues. As sport and cultural icons, you are all uniquely positioned to change the attitudes and behaviour of our youth population. I count on you to help our young people, who look up to you, become the real future of our beloved Nigeria.
“ Let me say again, clearly, to our Super Eagles: we are with you and we will always be with you, because you are a pride and inspiration to our nation. We wish you success in Brazil and have no doubt that you will again bring pride, to Nigeria, and to Africa”, he said and called on the Super Eagles to go for goals in Brazil.