By Bashir Bello, KANO
A proprietress of an orphanage home, Green Pasture and Home Initiative, Chaplain Comfort Williams has called on the government to as a matter of urgency expunge all forms of what she described as unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks from the adoption laws to simplify processes of adoption and tackle the incidence of child theft and kidnapping in orphanage homes.
Chaplain Williams made the call during a press briefing to kick-start a weeklong line up of activities to mark the 20 years anniversary of the orphanage home situated in Kano and Ondo states respectively.
She called on the government to decentralize the law to allow applicants the opportunity of adopting children in any part of the country using a single approval.
According to her, “Many childless couples find the adoption process and procedures in Nigeria too cumbersome and frustrating. The process of clearing children for adoption by the states’ supervising ministries, family courts, juvenile Centre’s and other investigative organs should be purged of all forms of unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks for a simplified process of adoption.
“There is a need for the government to act urgently on these with a view to accelerating the adoption process, removing unnecessary hurdles and delays in releasing children to adoptable families. This will reduce if not totally eradicate the incidence of child theft and kidnapping in orphanages.
“Adoption laws and processes should be decentralized to allow applicants the opportunity of adopting children in any part of the country using a single approval,” she said.
The proprietress further called for the domestication of the all-important child right law without any further delay and subsequent implementation by Kano State should be held sacrosanct.
She described the funding as the major challenge facing the orphanage homes noting that the government has not done enough to extend hands of support to the private orphanage homes particularly that a UNICEF report (2008) puts the number of orphans in the country at 17.5 million and all lives in the privately operated home.
“The government of Nigeria at all levels has not been fair to an organization like ours in that their commitment to funding the activities of the organization has not been encouraging.
“According to a 2008 UNICEF report, it was estimated that Nigeria has 17.5 million orphans of which 95 per cent of the orphans live in privately-run homes. Yet, none of the orphanages has any regular source of funding.
“There is no solid means of funding for activities of children homes like ours directly from the Government and private sectors. This has made it difficult to put in place some of the needed structures for the running of the organization
“Similarly, there is no orphan and vulnerable children devoted clinic or department in any government hospital, no urgent attention and most often the staff and the sick child spend hours for their turn to see Doctors.
“We recommend that the supervising ministries should be empowered so they could provide needed reliefs in areas of funding, capacity building of organization staff, free health insurance and enrolment with the NHIS, adequate
provision of modern security equipment and security agencies for the organization and also that Government should deepen its partnership with the organization.
“If we must have a healthy nation, the Government should ensure easy and free access to healthcare service for orphans and vulnerable children. For instance, no serious attention has been given to Children Homes and Other Centre’s with populated VCs to prevent Covid-19 infection amongst the children in children homes. No attempt for free in-situ covid-19 test established our Children home to determine the safety level.
“We are humbly advocating that Kano State Government should emulate the Lagos State Government who recently introduced health insurance scheme to social care institutions both private and public,” the proprietress said.
Chaplain Comfort however maintained that the orphanage home currently has over 150 children with the youngest as three weeks old (abandoned baby) and the eldest, 23 years old who is studying Computer Science (200 level) in a Nigerian university.