As the world celebrates another International Day for Children, stakeholders are encouraged to promote safe environment for the protection of every child in the country.
United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria Mohammed Fall in a statement to mark the 2017 Children’s Day noted, “Each one of us is responsible for creating a world where children feel safe, protected and empowered to speak up for themselves”.
His call is in tune with the theme for the year celebration which is on child protection and the Sustainable Development Goal.
Fall urged all 12 States Assemblies where the Child Rights Acts are yet to be passed to urgently do so to enable attention on all forms of violence perpetuated against the Nigerian child to be addressed within shortest possible time as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari at the launch of the campaign to end all forms of violence pn children.
“We call on the State Assemblies of the remaining 12 states to urgently pass Child Rights bills and on governors to sign those bills into law. We also call on governors of the 29 states who have not yet launched state-level campaigns to end violence against children to do so.
““And even while we increase our commitments to protect children’s rights,” he added, “We must work even harder to make these rights a reality for children in Nigeria”, said Fall.
According to UNICEF millions of Nigerian children suffer some form of physical, emotional or sexual violence as reported by a 2014 survey conducted by the National Population Commission.
In the survey suported by UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six out of every ten Nigerian children experience at least one of these forms of violence before they reach 18.
In line with the Sustainable Development Goal to end all forms of violence against children by 2030, Nigeria has launched a Campaign to End Violence Against Children by 2030, which reinforces the Presidential call to end such violence first made in September 2015.
Since 2015, Lagos, Cross River, Benue and Plateau States have launched state-wide campaigns and were joined by the Federal Capital Territory and Kano States which launched their campaigns today while Gombe is expected to launch its campaign on Jne 7.
To drive the implementation of the national campaign, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development working with key government partners, civil society and faith-based organisations is developing a National Plan of Action that will set targets and milestones to end violence against children in Nigeria by 2030.
UNICEF applauds Nigeria’s national and state governments’ efforts to reduce violence and exploitation of children in Nigeria and has recognised Nigeria as a Global Pathfinding country in the world-wide battle to combat violence against children.
Nigeria adopted the national Child Rights Act in 2003 to domesticate the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. So far, State-wide Child Rights Acts have been passed in 24 of the Nigeria’s 36 states, with Enugu being the most recent to enact the law in December 2016.