Francis Sardauna in Katsina and Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Save the Children International (SCI) have expressed grave concern over the increasing cases of abuse against children in the country, thereby tasking governments at all levels on the need to domesticate and adhere to the Child Rights Act.
At separate fora yesterday, the international organisations canvassed that with the Child Rights Act in place, the country would stand to gain future benefits especially in education and healthcare amongst several others.
While the UNICEF is a specialised agency of the United Nations working in over 190 countries globally, the SCI is an international non-governmental organisation operating in over 120 countries around the world.
At a programme held at Government Day Secondary School, Kofar-Yandaka, Katsina to mark the organisation’s centenary in preparation for the Children Day, the SCI through its Coordinator of Community Engagement and Advocacy, Murjanatu Kabir urged stakeholders to come up with measures that will end violence against children in the federation.
As the world’s leading independent children’s charity organization, the SCI noted that the SCI “is committed to seeing people, government, institutions are mobilized for the ultimate good of our children and not against them”.
The coordinator listed lack of laws, prosecution of culprits and lack of proper parental upbringing as factors militating against children in the country, thus calling on policymakers to rekindle their efforts to revamp the threat.
“It is my prayer that in all warfronts where one child is affected, there should be the needed legislation, policies, finances, security and safety measures, widespread outcry and psychological to the victims.”
Also at the programme, the Speaker of Katsina State Children’s Parliament Abdulrahaman Musa said despite advancement of education and global supports, children in Nigeria are treated not as human but as children.
He, however, prayed that children “will live in a world free from violence, full of opportunities; a world where we will grow and achieve our full potentials; a better, safer and healthier place to live”.
During a two-day media dialogue to commemorate the forthcoming Child Rights Convention at 30 in Lagos, the UNICEF through its Chief of Communications, Eliana Drakopoulous emphasised the need for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be delivered by 2030.
The children’s fund noted that there “are many areas where the government needs to make progress and one of such is in education. There are far too many children in Nigeria who are not in school.
It added that all Nigerians need “to be aware about the convention of the rights of the child, which she said is not about children but also about the adults who are around them.
“Even though there has not been a single country that has been able to achieve a hundred percent in the adherence of the rights of every child, the rights include access to basic education, healthcare including vaccination, birth registration, good food and play amongst others.
“Domesticating the child rights act is really domesticating and promoting the rights of the child and this is from education to nutrition, to freedom of expression and every rights you know and can imagine for children, including the rights to play and for adequate foods.
“All these rights are incredibly important for children and enacting these rights is what will make it a reality for children in Nigeria as long as it is implemented. All Nigerians need to be aware about the convention of the rights of the child. It is not just about children or children’s rights.
“Yes, children need to know their rights, but adults who are around them also need to know those rights. These are parents, teachers, lawyers, judges, government officials, etc. Everyone needs to know the rights children have and to be sure they are implemented.
“There are many areas where the Nigerian government needs to make progress. One very important one about Nigeria is still in the level of education. There are far too many children in Nigeria who are not in school, and we really want to see that improve. Support needs to be made in Nigeria. We want to see the SDGs being delivered by 2030.
“Things will get better once children are being adequately registered. It will be very important for them to be able to access education, adequate healthcare, vaccination and we will really want to see this area working and stepped up and soon every child in Nigeria will have their birth registered.”