Children Day: Senate to Parley State Assemblies on Child Rights Act Domestication

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• Osinbajo cautions parents against harmful practices

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja and Laleye Dipo in Minna

Senate President Bukola Saraki is expected to meet Speakers of State Houses of Assembly very soon to press for domestication of the Child Rights Act at the state level.

The Senate President made this known at a forum organised by female diplomats, career women and women in politics during the fourth annual edition of SHE in Abuja.

SHE Forum is a registered Pan-African women development, leadership and life style organisation founded by Mrs. Inimfon Etuk.
Fatima Kakuri, who represented the Senate President on gender, said “Senator Saraki is a gender sensitive person”, hence he appointed her to advise him on female gender issues in order to give women gender equality in Nigeria.

“We have passed the stage of agitating for gender equality; we are now hoping on policies that will change the laws and we are hoping for a better society”, Kakuri, stated.

“The Senate President will be meeting with all the Speakers of the various States Assemblies that are yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act, to discuss the issues militating against its domestication in their various States.”
The founder/Chairperson of SHE Forum Africa and the convener of the gathering said she founded the organisation to help girls and women; to help the girl child achieve their dreams and let nothing hold them back, to empower and encourage women to be politically active.
She added, “SHE Forum is organisation that is set out to make sure that girl child is not limited by religion, culture or public policies”.

On politics she said women are peace lovers and that more involvement of women in politics would reduce thuggery and violence that mar elections in Nigeria.
“Women are peaceful people, meek and kind therefore their greater involvement in politics will go a long way in reducing thuggery and violence that we always witness prior, during and post elections in Nigeria. For now we are not thinking of forming a political party but maybe sometimes in the future. We want to be in existing political parties for now and get what we want by actively getting involved,” she added.

The wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, who was in attendance also urged the women to stop the pull-down syndrome that they exhibit when they see any woman who is up.
“We women must learn to encourage ourselves by stopping our pull-down syndrome when we see our fellow women make it to the top and start encouraging them. That is the only way we can catch up with the men.”
Meanwhile, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday cautioned parents and the society against practices that can be inimical to the lives of Nigerian children.

Osinbajo gave the advice at the national Children’s Day celebration in Akure, the Ondo State capital, in a message delivered on his behalf by Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, according to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report.
The acting President said such acts include child marriage, child molestation and other forms of child abuse. He said the country would soon have a special telephone line where children could make distress calls for prompt intervention.
Osinbajo, who promised to protect and defend Nigerian children through the child rights law, however, advised the children to be obedient and hard working.

In his own message, Akeredolu said his administration would ensure that key role players in the state’s Child Justice Administration were given the required professional training. He said the state government would not refrain from carrying out the expected responsibilities towards children and the citizens of the state.

“There is no denying the fact that at all times, and especially during economic recession and conflict situations, children suffer and need protection against violence abuse, injustice and other forms of deprivation more than ever before.

“No government can therefore afford to abandon children related issues as today’s youths are future citizens, leaders and drivers of the various sectors of the society. That is why the persistent global increase in the reported cases of violence and abuse of children had continued to be a matter of concern to government and institutions at various levels,” he said.
Akeredolu further appealed to parents and guardians to take their responsibilities serious, while teachers, caregivers and other handlers of children should ensure that they handle children under their care with love.
Meanwhile, the Wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, yesterday, launched the Edo Child Protection Policy to strengthen the child protection system in the state.
Launching the policy book with executive members of the Edo Children Parliament and members of the State’s Child Right Implementation Committee at the Edo State Government House in Benin City, she expressed delight that Edo pioneered the development and launch of such a policy in Nigeria.

In addition, the governor’s wife noted that the Obaseki-led administration prioritised child protection and provision of quality education for Edo children, as well as vocational education for students to facilitate skill acquisition and self-reliance.
“This administration wants to produce medium manpower through vocational skills acquisition because when people don’t have skills they are helpless. I will also like the introduction of vocational skills/handwork into the curriculum of primary and secondary schools in the state”, she said.

The First Lady also commended the proactive steps of members of the Edo Children Parliament to prevent abuse of children’s rights emphasising that the government was set to end child trafficking, strengthen the newly established family court with better staffing and provide help lines for children to report cases of abuses.

On the nature of the Children Parliament, its speaker, Mrs. Abieyuwa Efeomo, revealed that the Parliament was established in 2015, aiming to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, but also called on the government to create awareness about the existence of the Family Court so that abused children could take full advantage of it.
She also decried the rate of child abuse and rape in the state, calling on the government to act against violence directed at children in the state.

In a related development, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State has said his administration would wage total war against all forms of violence against children, adding, “A lot of children suffer one form of violence or the other every time and it is our responsibility as a government to protect them against all forms of abuse.”
Governor Bello made the remarks in a statement to mark this year’s children day in which he also pledged to give protection to the children in the state.

“As a vulnerable group children must be given the enabling environment to actualise their potentials and make them productive and responsible citizens in the society”, the statement signed on behalf of the governor by his Chief Press Secretary Jibrin Ndace said.
Bello therefore renewed his commitment to the fight against all forms of abuse, discrimination and violence against children, saying: “the children have right to better life.”

While wishing the children a happy celebration, the governor assured that the state government would soon facilitate the implementation of the Child Rights Act, already domesticated by the state, as well as other relevant laws that would guarantee and protect the children.