Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed that Nigeria losses about N1.42 trillion in economic terms annually as consequences of violence against children (VAC).
The disclosure was made in Calabar, Cross River State capital, thursday by the Public Finance for Child Protection, UNICEF Consultant, Rita Fele, at the launch of the Economic Burden of VAC in Nigeria and the Financial Benchmark for Child Protection Reports, organised in collaboration with the Cross River State Ministry of Women Affairs.
Fele said the figure represents 1.6 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which the country loses on the average from deaths and disability resulting from violence against children.
She said the N1.42 trillion was arrived at from statistics from a study conducted in 2017 based on data obtained in 2014.
Disclosing key points of the study, Fele said the Nigeria Consolidated National Benchmark estimate was put at 0.31 per cent, implying that “for every N100 spent per person in Nigeria, 31 Kobo, or N0.31, was spent per child on child protection services.”
“The total consolidated child protection expenditure was calculated as NGN 10.1 billion, which is 0.16 per cent of consolidated Federal and State expenditure minus debt service costs. NGN 109.26 per child was spent on child protection services on average in these years,” Fele explained.
Based on the current levels of consolidated child protection expenditure in Nigeria, Fele said the allocation of only 0.1 per cent of the country’s budget to children protection would increase total consolidated expenditure by 63 per cent.
She described VAC as a key social and economic concern for Nigeria’s future, saying priorities on prevention, and responsive child protection services in development plans must be put in place.
Fele advocated the inclusion of evidence-based study results towards advocating for more coordinated efforts on strengthening child protection systems across all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA).
She said from statistics available, there was need for increase in governmental interventions with adequate public expenditure and budget allocation on VAC.
Also speaking at the event, the Chief of Enugu Field Office, UNICEF, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh, said the meeting was aimed at advocating for the provision “leverage of resources from government to ensure that we do more for children.”
“We have a responsibility to ensure that a child who has been born has is provided with all the required facilities to be a meaningful child in the world. If that child does now have those facilities, if they couldn’t make it to be be good children, we are accountable for that, as parents but also government. This why UNICEF comes in. we define our mandate to ensure we continue to knock on the doors of government to ensure that they do more for children to realise their right,” Conteh explained.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Cross River State Ministry of Women Affairs, Mr. James Odok, said the objectives of the launch was to create awareness towards increase allocation, and expenditures for child protection services
Odok said the launch also aimed at dissemination of information on the essence of spending more on Child Protection Services as well as providing information and analysis on the level of public expenditure, and cost of inaction for child protection services in Nigeria.