NESG, UNICEF advocate collaboration, mobilization for children at risk
To rally long-term commitment towards the protection of children at risk, and tackle child rights infringement and poverty in Nigeria, the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, (UNICEF), have tasked stakeholders with interventions for children in need.
The duo made the call at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen their collaboration as they work to find lasting solutions to end child rights infringement in the areas of education, social services, child labour, health and others and to tackle multidimensional and multifaceted poverty affecting children, a weekend in Abuja.
Chairman, of NESG, Mr Niyi Yusuf, pointed out that his organization’s intent in the collaboration is to ensure that it pulls support and resources from its vast membership and connection towards realizing set objectives.
He said the MOU is geared towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the education sector, child labour and other child rights issues in the country.
According to him, the partnership seeks to interface and advocate at the highest policy levels for a child-centred approach to development in Nigeria.
Yusuf said “From the Nigerian perspective and from the NESG perspective, our view is that the Nigerian children actually represent the greatest asset to this country. We want to see that we break the cycle of child poverty by the year 2050 hence we must elevate the discussion and make it a national priority.
“We keep saying that our children are the leaders of tomorrow and so it’s important that we must invest and plant the seeds to ensure that these children truly become the leaders of tomorrow.”
Referencing the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI), released in 2022, two-thirds of Nigerian children were multi-dimensionally poor which means they lack access to basic healthcare, education, human rights and income. Also, that more than 50 per cent of the children of poor people have poor early childhood development.
“So if a child suffers any negative growth in early childhood you are laying a not so good foundation for tomorrow and for us at the NESG our focus is always to promote the modernisation of the Nigerian economy to one that is sustainable, globally competitive and has and promotes shared prosperity for all, so children remain a vital part of the mandate of the NESG,’ he stated.
In his words, “We believe that urgent action is required to ensure that we do the right things to promote the development of our children and for those children to then become the leaders, consumers and workforce of tomorrow.”
He assured that NESG’s collaboration with UNICEF would help bring the best of the Nigerian business community, policy advocacy groups and also the average professional together to ensure that deliberate steps are taken across the nation to protect children’s rights.
Country Representative, UNICEF, Ms Christian Munduate, said that talking about children’s rights means ensuring that everybody who is not a child has a responsibility to children from where they are.
“So parents need to take care of their children, families need to have a strong network, communities have to build an enabling environment, state and Federal Government, civil society organisation and media.
“We all play a critical role to put once and for all children at the centre of the agenda in Nigeria. They have been poor. And why do you say nothing about them?
She further said 54 per cent of Nigerian children still face multidimensional poverty, meaning lack of either water or sanitation while 13 million children have moderate malnutrition. This means that the child who was not properly fed in their first years of life has a deficiency not only in physical growth, but is also limited in intellectual development.
She adds that all hope is not lost but correcting the situation requires a lot of commitment from all Nigerians.
She pointed out that the NESG was one of the organisations in the country that proposes social and public policies for the country and that also embraces a very powerful network of civil society organisations and the private sector hence the partnership would enhance the promotion of child rights in the country.
Munduate said “UNICEF is dedicated to protecting children’s rights in Nigeria and worldwide and helping children build a strong foundation for their future.
“Our partnership with NESG highlights the urgency of realising this goal and will coordinate efforts to achieve child rights protection in Nigeria through effective public policies.”
Chief Operating Officer and Senior Fellow, NESG, Dr Tayo Aduloju explained that the situation the two organisations are dealing with is one that requires time, commitment and effort to deal with because “it is a case of complex, acute and multidimensional poverty that aggravates in various ways hence must be attacked with incremental solutions.”
Adding his voice, Chief Executive Officer, (CEO), of NESG, Laoye Jaiyeola said: “Children cannot wait as their lives is a process, therefore, interventions and actions in this regard cannot wait.”