By Chioma Obinna
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, yesterday blamed Nigeria’s failure to realise the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC, 30 years after its adoption by the United Nations, UN, on poverty, community disintegration, family dysfunction, and child vulnerability.
Although Nigeria in 2003 enacted the Child Rights Act as a signatory to CRC, only 24 states out of the 36 states have domesticated the Child Rights Act, thereby hampering the realization of the protection of the rights of the child.
Speaking at a two-day media dialogue on the convention on the rights of the child, CRC, held in Lagos, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, Sharon Oladiji, said that lack of access to the developmental need of the children is detrimental to the rights of the Nigerian child.
“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.”
She stressed that investing in a child was paramount for Nigeria and Africa to realise the rights of the burgeoning child population.
“A healthy development of a child is crucial to the future well-being 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.”
On his part, the Director, Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information, Mr Olumide Osanyipeju, said the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was a human right treaty, which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children in Nigeria adding that the need to uphold the realisation of the rights of children can never be overemphasised.
“I commend UNICEF for their contributions; unyielding support and partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and for the consistent effort being made to ensure that the rights and well being of Nigerian children are protected and upheld”.
Osanyipeju noted that a comprehensive statement on children’s right which is binding under international law became necessary with reports of grave injustice suffered by children ranging from high infant mortality, deficient health care, as well as limited opportunities for basic education, adding that alarming accounts of children are being abused and exploited as prostitutes or in harmful jobs. Children in prison or in other difficult circumstances.
“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 reserve 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”, he added.
Chief of communication, UNICEF, Eliana Drakopoulos, said that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its resolution of 20th November 1989 has the same meaning for people in all parts of the world adding that while laying down common standards, the Convention takes into account the different cultural, social economic and political realities of individual States so that each state may seek its own means to implement the rights common to all.
“The Convention on the rights of the child must be made known to everyone in order to ensure full protection and adoption of the CRC act.”
“The need to ensure that children are empowered all round to take their pride of place in our society and the world at large. This is a realisation that all children have a right to better life, an opportunity to survive, develop and reach their full potentials,” she added.