Wife of the Akwa-Ibom State Governor, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel yesterday expressed worry that nearly one in every five adolescent girls in Akwa-Ibom State is either pregnant or has had a child without getting married.

Determined to alter the ugly development and make every Akwa-Ibom State girl-child an asset to the family and a vehicle for societal growth as demanded by the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Akwa-Ibom State First Lady has decided to anchor her pet project around the family. The pet project is called Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Programme (FEYRep).

Mrs. Emmanuel gave the indication during the unveiling of FEYRep at the Ibom Hall, Uyo. She said the project would create a platform to showcase successful families, empower women to provide economic and emotional support to their families and advocate for the prevention of teenage pregnancies and education of the girl-child.

FEYRep, she informed, would also create the platform for promoting moral values and economic excellence in the youth as well as support government efforts toward sustainable development.

She explained that the FEYRep initiative was informed by her recent baseline survey of the incidence, causes and nature of the problem of teenage pregnancies in the 31 local councils of the state where it was realized that nearly one in every five adolescent girls aged 15-19 years in the state was either pregnant or has had a child without getting married.

Her words: “Today signals a start of a very important journey, a journey to bring new strength and stability to families because stronger families make stronger societies. Our youth represent an immense reservoir of social, political and economic energy and the longer we leave that potential untapped, the harder it will be for us to achieve our bigger goals as families and as a state.

“This event is therefore a call to partnership. It is a Divine injunction to reach out to the disadvantaged among us. You can give your time, energy, contacts, knowledge, skills and prayers to lift up those who are down.

“Akwa-Ibom is a blessed state. So much has been said about our abundance of human and natural resources. The current administration has taken off on a good note that has received widespread commendation. However, we cannot deny that there are pockets of social issues that require committed non-governmental intervention.

“These include combating gender-based violence, poverty, promoting girls education and empowerment, providing economic lifelines for vulnerable families including those with disabilities and supporting youth development through re-orientation and economic empowerment”, she noted.

Mrs. Emmanuel therefore called on government agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), international development partners, religious bodies, community leaders, law enforcement agencies, corporate bodies, philanthropists, women, men and the privileged individuals to support the project to help improve the economic output of communities for a more prosperous and secure life for the family.’’