As part of activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Nobel Laurel, Wole Soyinka; music producer and songwriter, Cobhams Asuquo; musician, Bankole Wellington, and a host of others have called for actions that will ensure the rights of children are respected in Nigeria.
Reading a specially dedicated poem for children around the world, ‘A Child Before the Mirror’ during the commemoration of the CRC 30 in Lagos recently, Soyinka said the common bond among everyone was childhood, hence there was the responsibility to protect and preserve the integrity of that sole common bond.
The event, a collaboration between UNICEF and the British Deputy High Commission, brought key leaders and influencers from Nigeria’s private sector and entertainment industry together to discuss how these sectors can help advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the realisation of children’s rights.
The UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, said for SDGs to be achieved the rights of the child must first be achieved.
He said: “Both will only be achieved if all sectors of businesses are fully engaged. Child rights and the SDGs need to be integrated into business principles, strategies and plans, which, in turn, can contribute to more robust and inclusive economic growth and improved employment of young people. That is good for children, good for business and good for Nigeria.”
With a population close to 200 million people and an ever-increasing youth bulge, Nigeria is experiencing increasing demands on schools and health facilities, and growing challenges for young people to find work, amongst other challenges.
In an appeal directly to children, Asuquo said: “You are all that is right in Nigeria because you are the chance to rewrite all of wrongs that generations before you have done. You have a chance and a clean state to make this country the place we all dream of.”
The British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Harriet Thompson said: “We are pleased to work with UNICEF, the private sector, and young people themselves on ideas that will contribute to a better Nigeria for current and future generations of children.
“With the anniversary of the CRC this year, the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child next year and only 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, we must work together and with urgency to scale-up solutions in Nigeria that will improve our planet and all people’s lives, especially our children.”
On his part, Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, said entertainers have a voice, which should be channeled into making the world a better place. “We should be a voice for children. They deserve all rights as demanded in our laws,” he said.