Federal Government has said that the current economic contractions and realities pose a lot of challenges for government to achieve developmental agenda and called on support of volunteers across the country to address the challenges of unemployment, poverty, food insecurity among others.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at an event marking the 2023 International Volunteer Day (IVD).

Every 5th day of December of every year is observed as the International Volunteer Day which was mandated by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 40/212 of 17th December, 1985.

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The IVD offers opportunity for UN member Nations to promote volunteerism, encourage Government to support volunteer efforts and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at Local, National and International Levels.

It also provides an avenue for Volunteer Involving Organisations (VIOs) and individual Volunteers to showcase their trade and contributions to socio-economic development of the country.

Akume who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Political & Economic Affairs Office, Esuabana Nko-Asanye, at the ceremony, said the inclusiveness of action of passionate volunteers, if well-coordinated could bring a lot of positive change in employment, reduction of crime, poverty reduction, food security, protection of lives and properties, healthy living and increase the rate of literacy.

He added this could also help in improving sanitation and present opportunities to promote volunteerism as a critical development tool capable of complementing national development efforts.

SGF said: “The present Government has recognized volunteerism as a veritable force to facilitate socio-economic development. It is widely seen as a development tool critical for the advancement of society, especially the rural communities.

“The present economic contractions and realities pose a lot of challenges for government to achieve their developmental agenda. Interestingly, inclusiveness, being the key word in this year’s IVD theme, is also a major component of the development agenda of the government,” Akume added.

He, therefore, enjoined the Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Groups and individual volunteers to work collectively and collaborate with the Government to achieve feats in the development space.

“The socio-economic and political challenges characterized by poverty, food insecurity, inequality, gender discrimination, crime, youth restiveness, unemployment, among others, in the present situations, call for inclusiveness of efforts to find and proffer common solutions,” he said.

He recalled that to harness the potential and resources of volunteers for development, the Federal Government established Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS) Office in 2003 as a volunteer management Institution saddled with the responsibility of promoting, encouraging, harnessing, coordinating and effectively deploying the Volunteer Services of Nigerians to complement national development strategies.

SGF added the Federal Government has further demonstrated its commitment to strengthening volunteerism as an essential tool through the development and approval of the National Policy on Inclusive Volunteerism in 2020.

“This policy is mainly to guide and provide direction for the effective management and coordination of volunteerism for development,” he said.

Earlier, Director, Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS), Simon Bariye Stephen, said volunteerism is one of the strategies adopted by various nations to fast-track development, especially in rural communities, saying it is also counted as one of the modalities for theimplementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the countries of the World under the principle of “Leaving no one behind”.

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