•Say It’s Robbery Of Nigerian Children’s Right
Child protection experts have frowned at delay in adoption of Child Rights Act (CRC) in 11 states of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) attributing this to poverty, community disintegration and family dysfunction.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the trend, the experts further said that child vulnerability is also one of the factors impeding the implementation of the CRC and robbing the Nigerian child of his right to protection.
They also said failure in meeting the developmental needs of the Nigerian children makes him a victim of several forms of violence, the consequence is non-implementation of the Act in the country.
Recall that the CRC was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its resolution of November 20, 1989 with Nigeria among the 194 countries that ratified it, except Somalia.
However, as the country joined the world to mark the 30 years of CRC, some of the Nigerian states, mainly from the North are yet to domesticate the Child Rights Convention.
Sharon Oladiji, Child Protection Specialist, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), at a recent two-day media dialogue on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC@30) held in Lagos, gave an analysis of the progress of the Bill’s domestication.
She noted that 11 out of the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have not domesticated the Act.
Giving further breakdown, Oladiji said, the 11 states are all from the north, including, Sokoto, Kano, Zamfara, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Adawama and Gombe.
“Only eight states out of the North’s 19 states have domesticated the Act. They are: Niger, FCT, Nasarawa, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Kwara and Kogi and all 17 states in the south have domesticated the Act.
While Jigawa state had earlier domesticated the Act, but repealed it thereafter, Oladiji observed in her presentation, titled; “Topic: ‘Domestication of the CRC; the CRA legal framework,’ at the dialogue organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in collaboration with UNICEF.
Oladiji also said that investing in a child is paramount for Nigeria and Africa as a whole to realize the right of the burgeoning child population, adding that a healthy development of a child is crucial to the future wellbeing of any nation.
“Special attention is required for Nigeria which is the country with the largest increase in absolute numbers of both birth and child population, it is time we acknowledge our shared responsibility and address this issue.”
Also, Olumide Osanyipeju, Director, Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) Federal Ministry of Information in his remarks, said that the UN Convention on the rights of the child is a comprehensive statement which would be binding under international law and became necessary with reports of grave injustice suffered by children.
The prejudices he said, ranged from high infant mortality, deficient health care, limited opportunities for basic education, alarming accounts of children being abused and exploited as prostitutes or in harmful jobs, Children in prison or in other difficult circumstances.
He added that it is equally worthy to note that it has really been an uphill task bringing to fruition the total realisation of children’s rights in our society, especially in the rural terrains which constitute the bulk of our society and where a vast majority of our people are not literate.
“The situation that stares us in the face is the tall order to bring our people to understand that children deserve as many fundamental rights as the adults, and the need to protect the rights of our children at risk of deprivations of basic social benefits, in exploitative and difficult circumstances, and even mortality.”
Mrs. Blessing Ejiofor, UNICEF Communication Officer, highlighted how the media can support the campaign and provide a platform to review media advocacy on children’s rights in Nigeria vis-a-vis the CRC, identify and plan new ways to push for increased financial and non-financial investments in children with a focus on emerging trends and threats to childhood in this millennium.
Also, UNICEF Chief of Communication, Eliana Drakopoulos, said media has a role to play in this global campaign adding, CRC was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its resolution of November 20, 1989, has the same meaning for people in all parts of the world.
She further stated; “We want to know where we are now 30 years after the CRC. What is the stage of children’s rights? Children need to know their rights and even parents should know as well.”
The Child Protection Specialist insisted; “We must promote all opportunities that will help sound development in children. Lack of access to developmental need is detrimental to the rights of children.”