…Nigeria has highest number of out-of-school children globally-NCRIC

By Gabriel Ewepu

AS children continue to be abused in the country, ActionAid Nigeria, Wednesday, built capacity and strengthened coordination of stakeholders on implementation of the Child Rights Act 2003 in order to produce better results in the protection of children.

This was made known by the Programme Advisor, ActionAid Nigeria, Ubong Tommy, at a workshop tagged ‘Linkage Meeting for Child Rights Implementation Committees, CRICs, in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.

According to Tommy, there are identified challenges that brought about the meeting which include violence against children; cultural practices that endanger the lives of children; specifically infanticide in and around Federal Capital Territory, FCT; shrouded secrecy; and other kinds of abuses against children.

He also explained that the objective of the meeting is to strengthen the capacity of the CRICs in Abaji, Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, Kwali, Kuje, and Gwagwalada to carry out their case management function; raise awareness, on the Child Right Act 2003; provide a forum that brings together all Child Right Implementation Committees, CRIC, across FCT; build capacity of existing and newly formed CRIC on their roles and responsibilities; increase accountability for the protection of children in the FCT; and promote referrals.

Participants at the meeting include National Child Rights Implementation Committee, NCRIC, Local Child Rights Implementation Committee, Child Focused Networks, State Child Rights Implementation Committee, Community Advocates Against Infanticide, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, and Media.

He said: “A meeting like this gives us the opportunity to bring all the various strata of this committee from the local, state, and national level together to be able to first of all share learning, information and bring up the issues hoping that the government officials, major stakeholders that are here will take up these issues.

“For instance, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs too is here that they take back the issues that are raised here o ensure that government is able to action these issues for a betterment of every Nigerian child.

“The challenges are there and that is why we are here; violence against children, cultural practices that endanger the lives of children, specifically infanticide, in and around Federal Capital Territory, FCT, shrouded secrecy, and other kinds of buses against children, and that is why a forum like this ensures that those systems and structures that ought to be in place to deal with this issues that the awareness on the law that protects children as related to these issues are implemented and enforced.

“We believe that if this committee that is backed by Child Rights Act of 2003 is allowed to function effectively it will have a very positive impact on our fight to protect children in Nigeria.”

He also added that the meeting is strategically organised and targeted towards very key individuals in the FCT that can off-take the issues of children in the various FCT communities, and report them to the appropriate authority for action.

He also pointed that Nigeria is mandated to prepare certain documents as report to the African Union, AU, and a meeting like this will provide is needed to make those kinds of reports in order to get the desired attention expected.

Meanwhile, according to him (Tommy) they have been able to train people with funding from European Union, EU, as well as provide refresher training for the already existing ones in AMAC, Gwagwalada and Kuje Area Councils.

A former Federal Permanent Secretary and Co-chair of National Child Rights Implementation Committee, NCRIC, Dr MacJohn Nwaobiala, lamented abuse of children in the country including educated Nigerians, and also disclosed that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.

“Obviously, I am not satisfied with the way children are being taken care of in this country. There are four pillars of rights for children; survival, protection, dissipation, and all these areas are not being thoroughly implemented in Nigeria.

There are a lot of abuses of children across the country, even where they don’t expect children to be abused and you will discover that even those who are educated also abuse children.

Look at the situation of the house-boys and house-girls people have in their homes, children on the streets, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children globally, and also children are raped and abused, and there is a lot to be done, and it calls for a concern”, Nwaobiala.

He also added that Government alone should not be left to do this, but NGOs, traditional leaders, community members, religious organizations, and media should play active role to stem the tide and give children protection as they are the building blocks of the society.

He also called on government to give substantial budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Women Affairs to tackle issues concerning women and children, and also citizens should have that consciousness of the Child Rights Act 2003.

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