By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, yesterday lit blue Abuja City Gate to draw attention to the need for government and other stakeholders to renew their commitment to the realisation of Children’s Rights in Nigeria.
Speaking at the symbolic ceremony, UNICEF’s Chief of Communication in Nigeria, Eliana Drakopoulos, stressed the need for Children’s Rights to take centre stage in the country’s efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, by 2030.
She said: “We are lighting up the Abuja City Gate blue as a symbol of our commitment to children in this country. Every nation including Nigeria has improvements they can make on the realisation of the rights of children.
“So, it’s important that we look at these rights when we are seeking to achieve the SDGs. We have till 2030 to achieve these goals but we need to step up progress on the realisation of the rights of children to access quality education, healthcare and play.”
On his part, Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF’s Communication Specialist Abuja, noted that iconic buildings around the world such as the New York Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal in India and the Sydney Opera would also be lit blue for a similar purpose.
He called on members of the public to sign an online petition on Children’s Rights published on UNICEF website which will be presented to Heads of State at next year’s UN General Assembly to extract a fresh commitment from them towards realising these rights in their respective countries.
In his remarks, the Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, urged parents to avail their kids the opportunity to be part of the Children’s Parliament in Abuja and to use the platform for aggregating their voices towards the realisation and protection of their rights.
Some children and adolescents, who spoke, used the event to demand from the government quality education, reduction in the age of consent for access to sexual and reproductive health, eradication of stigma against young peoole suffering HIV/AIDS, and removal of user fee for access to antiretroviral drugs amongst others.