Mr Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, has called for the prioritisation of child rights issues in both the national and state budgets.
Ojukwu, represented by Abdulrahman Yakubu, director, political and civil education rights in the commission made the call in Abuja at an event organised by the commission to commemorate the 2021 International Day for the African Child (DAC), celebrated every June 16.
He also called for alignment of national implementation plans of the Child’s Rights Act with international action plans like the Agenda 2040 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda to ensure a more holistic and measurable implementation outcome
”While progress has been made on the implementation of the Child’s Rights Act and Laws across the states that have adopted it, challenges bordering on non-prioritisation of child rights in the budget, poverty.
”Harmful traditional practices, inadequate access to educational and health services, armed conflicts and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic have continued to slow down process across all sectors.
”I call on all concerned Ministry , Departments and Agencies and child-focused organisations to explore new tools and innovations like technology and social media to accelerate the implementation of child-based laws and policies in the country,” he said.
He also called for the adoption and implementation of measures to ensure universal health coverage, access to quality health-care services for all while closing all gender and vulnerability gaps.
Ojukwu also called for equal access to compulsory and quality education to all children, including children in rural communities, the girl child, children living with disabilities, children in conflict and humanity settings.
The executive secretary said the DAC serves as a strong advocacy and sensitization tool for implementation of children’s rights.
”Beyond honouring the memory of the fallen heroes, the DAC celebration calls for introspection and self-assessment by the AU member states on the level of child rights implementation in respective countries.
The theme for the 2021 DAC celebration as selected by the African committee of Experts on the Rights and welfare of the child, he said, 30 years after the adoption of the charter: accelerate the implementation of the Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children.
In a goodwill message, the Country Representative of UN Women Nigeria, Ms Comfort Lamptey called for education-in-emergencies in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
The country representative, represented by Patience Ekeoba, National Programme Officer, UN Women Nigeria, Lamptey said that children of these three conflict affected states need education -in-emergencies.
” In the north east of Nigeria, 2. 8 million children need education -in-emergencies support. No fewer than 802 schools remained closed and 497 classrooms are listed as destroyed with another 1, 392 damaged but repairable in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
“In addition to this, the COVID-19, insecurity and humanitarian crisis and other prevailing challenges have presented new and additional challenges” she said
“A lot of countries in Africa have robust legal frameworks policies, conventions and other frameworks that guarantee the rights of the child” she added.
According to Lamptey, among these are the Child Rights Act 2003, Agenda 2040 approved by the the African Union (AU) Executive Council of Ministers in July 2017, the African Charter for the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and othe
However, she said countries and states are at different levels of domestication, implementation and funding.
“Negative perceptions and social norms about masculinity and femininity have also negatively impacted the opportunities that boys and girls have to in educational enrollment retention and completion.
“These issues have led to fragmented successes and leading to various gaps in access to equitable education by boys and girls, quality of education and teachers, school facilities including availability of adequate and appropriate WASH facilities in schools, safety and security and a lot more.
“A lot of our children are confronted with physical, psychological and sexual economic violence and exploitation including negative harmful practices among which are early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, trafficking and a host lot of other things “Lamptey said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16, every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)
It honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day.
On June 16 every year, governments, NGOs, international organisations and other stakeholders gather to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the full realisation of the rights of children in Africa.(NAN)