By Levinus Nwabughiogu & Chioma Obinna
ABUJA—President Muhammadu Buhari has re-affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the well-being of its children, reminding them that they had fundamental rights to quality and affordable education, good health and other basic necessities of life.
The President, therefore, assured that good health and well-being of Nigerian children remained top priorities on his agenda.
President Buhari gave the assurance in his message to the children on the occasion of 2016 Children’s Day celebration.
He stated that an allocation of N12.6 billion had been made in the 2016 budget for vaccines and programmes to prevent childhood killer diseases, such as polio, measles and yellow fever.
He also stated that the school feeding programme articulated in the budget for children which, he said, would cost N93.1 billion, would ensure that more children went to school.
He said: “I seize the opportunity of this year’s celebration, which comes just two days before the first anniversary of the present administration, to reassure our children and youth that we remain fully committed to fulfilling our promise of a better Nigeria for all of our people.
“On this happy occasion for our children, I reaffirm my belief that it is the right of every Nigerian child to have access to quality and affordable education, as well as healthcare and other basic necessities for a good life, in a peaceful and secure environment.
“The good health and well-being of Nigerian children remain top priorities on our agenda for national development and we have demonstrated our strong commitment in this regard with the allocation of N12.6 billion in the 2016 budget for vaccines and programmes to prevent childhood killer diseases, such as polio, measles and yellow fever.
“Other measures in the 2016 budget, such as the school feeding programme for children at a cost of N93.1 billion, will ensure that more children go to school and enjoy the fun of learning and growing together with their peers.
Meanwhile, as Nigeria celebrates Children’s Day today with the theme: “Protect the rights of the child in the face of violence and insecurity: End child marriage,” the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF has called on the Federal Government to take actions and renew efforts towards ending all forms of violence against children.
The call came as UNICEF records showed that more than 1.2 million children have been displaced in the North-East of the country.
In a press statement to mark the Day, Representative, UNICEF Nigeria, Jean Gough, noted that the theme of the day helps to shed a much needed light on the unprecedented levels of violence against children in Nigeria in the recent past and present.“Despite the current economic and funding challenges facing our dear nation, my administration will continue to do all within its powers to achieve better living conditions and greater access to quality healthcare and education for all our youth.”
The President expressed delight that one of the Chibok abducted schoolgirls, Amina Ali, had been rescued to join in the celebrations.
He also vowed not to rest on his oars until Boko Haram was completely defeated.
“It is a thing of joy that on this year’s Children’s Day, we can also celebrate the safe return of one of the Chibok girls, Amina Ali Nkeki, and many other abducted women and children who have been freed from the clutches of Boko Haram by our gallant troops.
“I assure all Nigerians and friends of the country, once again, that my administration will not rest on its oars until the ungodly terrorist sect is totally eliminated from our country.
According to Gough, “In the North East, we have witnessed, and continue to witness grave violations of children’s rights – killings, abductions, sexual violence and use in suicide bombings by Boko Haram.”
Noting that out of the 1.2 million children more than half of them were below the age of 5, Gough added that children living away from the crisis in the North East are also at risk of violence.