By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has urged religious, community and traditional leaders, in Benue state to make it a priority to ensure the registration of birth of under-five children by the National Population Commission.
Addressing two separate stakeholders engagements with Religious, Traditional, and Community leaders held in Gboko and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas, LGAs of Benue state aimed at Strengthened Collaboration, Partnership and Ownership for Improved Under-Five Birth Registration Service Delivery, the UNICEF Chief of Enugu Field Office, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh said it was a right of every child to be registered at birth and issued a certificate by the NPC.
Represented by Mr. Victor Atuchukwu, the Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Enugu Field Office, Dr. Conteh said birth registration was important for the Nigerian child because it helps the government plan better in terms of education, healthcare delivery and provision other social services as well as development projects.
The said the low level of birth registration in Benue state was a source of worrying for the global organization stressing that it was time for parents and stakeholders to pick up the challenge and lead the advocacy to scale up under-five birth registration in the state.
The UNICEF Chief said “birth registration is important because it gives the child the right identity and place of birth. So it is the duty of stakeholders to ensure that children are given their identities through birth registration.”
In her remark, the NPC Federal Commissioner in charge of Benue state, Mrs. Patricia Kupchi said the meeting was geared towards mobilizing every stakeholder in the state to key into the advocacy to ensure that the birth of Benue children were registered by the legal entity constitutional entrusted with that responsibility “which is the NPC.”
Represented by the Benue state Director of the NPC, Mr. Stephen Tsemende, the Federal Commissioner said it would amount to injustice to deny the child her identify when the child is denied the registration of her birth because the country has no record of her.
He urged participants to help in disseminating the information that they garnered in the course of the meeting.
Mrs. Kupchi also commended UNICEF for partnering the Commission in the project saying “the government of Nigeria is interested in the record of its population in order to plan better for the populace.”
In his remark, the Commissioner for Health and Human Services Dr. Joseph Ngbea, said the Ministry had been partnering with NPC on issues of health and would sustain the partnership.
Represented by the Director Public Health, Dr. Terna Kur, the Commissioner said issues that bordered on population had direct bearing on planning and urged stakeholders to take the massage from the meetings to the communities.
He commended UNICEF for particularly supporting his Ministry in the areas of promoting public health and assured of the support of his Ministry to ensure the success of the birth registration campaign.
Some of the stakeholders who spoke to Vanguard at the Gboko meeting held at NKST Bristow which had in attendance participants from, Gboko, Buruku, Tarka, Konshisha and Ushongo LGAs, on their impression about the meeting expressed delight that they were getting first hand information on the importance and benefits of having the birth of children registered by the NPC.
in his reaction Mr. Terhile Tugh from NKST Central Buruku, in Buruku LGA said he would go back to Buruku to lead the camp in his community through the church.
“When I go back to base I will discuss with my Pastor and I am sure he will give me time after Sunday service to talk to our people. I also hope to use other social gatherings to enlighten our people especially, women who take care of our children. The aim is to get many children in my community to register.”
On his part, Mr. Charles Anshom from Gboko LGA said “I have learnt that all children must be registered. It is a good programme. When I go back, I hope to sensitise our people on the importance of birth registration. I am a Cathechist from the Catholic church.
“As an announcer in the church, it will be part of my announcements for parents to always register the births of their children. And as the president of Cathecists in Gboko Diocese I will champion it and by doing that I am sure the message will go far and wide.”
As for Solomon Iorfa who attended from Tarka LGA the benefits was the programme were enormous. “I have learnt that birth registration is important and necessary.
“It’s the only legal identity of the child. Since I am a representative of my church, NKST Uchi, nominated by my pastor Rev. Levy Vavem, I will go back with the message and I believe he will give us audience in the church to share what we have learnt.
“I believe he will also give us the chance to practice what we have learnt here. I am sure his partnership with us will take it to NKST Healthcare Centre Uchi and to schools within my area to sensitise the people and ensure that we improve on birth registration.”
Meanwhile at the Katsina-Ala meeting held at the NKST Central, which drew participants from Katsina-Ala, Kwande, Logo, Ukum and Vandeikya LGAs the stakeholders commended UNICEF and the NPC for opening their eyes to the importance of birth registration particularly by the NPC the authorized organization to conduct birth registration.
In expressing his delight and commitment to the exercise, the Kindred Head of Katsina-Ala Central, Zaki Ignatius Ayamke commended UNICEF and NPC for giving the rural people who had been sleeping on their rights the opportunity to know what was expected of parents as far as birth registration was concerned promising that he would lead the campaign and advocacy in his community.
On his part, the District Head of Katsina-Ala Township, Chief He-men Iorar pledged to ensure that the sensitization drive got to all nooks and crannies of his domain.
In their separate comments Mr. James Ahugh of NKST Jato-Aka, Kwande LGA, Polycarp Ubor of All Saints Parish Tsenge Ugbah, Logo LGA , Ahobee Simeon of NKST Ahobee from Ukum LGA and Tsegba James of Saint Robert Rectory, Gbem, Vandeikya LGA all promised to lead the campaign in their various churches to ensure the success of the advocacy.
Also commenting, Kumbur Felix Terna of NKST Ikyowase and Sir Shinyi Sesugh of National Evangelical Mission Zaki-Biam, Ukum LGA also gave assurances to ensure that people in their respective churches assured embraced the campaign.
On their part, Reverend Williams Alom, Mr.Isaiah Tyoga and Mrs Priscila Amahundu all commended the collaboration of UNICEF and NPC to get Benue people fully informed about the importance of birth registration and the benefits that accrues to the children and populace in general when children are registered at birth.