Beyond the lamentation on children’s plight – Part 2
The future of Nigeria is tied to today’s children, who will one day be making the decisions that will shape the country – their families, communities, work places and government at all levels. This is against the backdrop that the perspectives, experiences, beliefs, knowledge, skills and attitudes that will determine how today’s children will carry out the task of nation building tomorrow have their roots in childhood.
So, instead of reading from the book of lamentation they should have presented their score cards on CSDPP (Child Survival, Development, Protection and Participation) by connecting the dots between speech and action, especially highlighting their achievements on the child focused sustainable development goals (SDGs) and targets; not discounting the supportive systems for the protection of Nigerian children. The relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government; and the SDG office should have presented evidence-based reports because we are just eight years away from 2030. This would have shown Nigerians and the global community how the Nigerian state is building a better world for children.
Essentially, when are the duty bearers going to connect the dots between speech and action in order to promote and celebrate rights of Nigerian children and build a better country for them? In line with the Children’s day celebration, which affords Nigeria the opportunity to promote and celebrate children’s rights in order to build a better world for them as “mankind owes to the child the best it has to offer”; it is, therefore, both a moral and strategic need for the Nigerian state to improve the lives and future of children so that the nation can transform for the better in the future; which is the goal of Children’s Day celebration.
As such, in line with the theme for the 2022 Children’s Day – “A Better Future for Every Child”, the Nigerian child desires and deserves a better future, for Nigeria to have a better future where everyone can self actualise and live in ‘peace and unity’; irrespective of differences in ‘tribe and tongue’. Therefore, Mr. President should connect the dots between talk and action before the end of his tenure and write his name in gold in the minds of Nigerian children; or else the children will only remember him for the perennial disconnect between his speeches and action about their rights to survival, development, protection and participation.
In addition, the solution to achieving child rights lies in multi-level interventions and investments. Therefore, people holding trust for Nigerian children should rise up to the occasion and push for interventions and investment towards realising child rights in the country. Hence, other duty bearers across all levels of government should ensure social justice and good governance by strengthening supportive systems for the protection of Nigerian children; while the civil society organisations (CSOs) should organise push for improved accountability on CSDPP, especially by working with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) to pursue the domestication of the Child Rights Acts in the eight (8) states that are yet to do so, such that millions of children in those states have the appropriate legal framework for child right to survival, development, protection and participation.
The relevant child focused NGOs should raise public awareness; engage the public and mobilise them for action towards the realisation of child rights in Nigeria. Specifically, they should ensure that millions of children in states that have domesticated Child Rights Act 2003 enjoy their rights by mounting pressure on the state governments for full implementation. The private sector should also come to the rescue because today’s neglected children are tomorrow’s abductors, kidnappers, street urchins, who will be threats to the multi-billion dollar businesses. As such, the organised sector should intervene through corporate social responsibility projects to ensure CSDPP in Nigeria.
The Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should re-orientate Nigerians on the need for every child to survive, develop, enjoy protection from violence and exploitation and participate in the society. The relevant MDAs should raise public awareness; engage the public and mobilise them for action; and strengthen cultural attitudes and social norms that support CSDPP. The media and NGOs should sensitise stakeholders about the local and international laws on children’s rights. At the international level, the world in 2015 agreed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Some of the goals inextricably linked the rights of children. Children are affected by all of the SDGs, whether poverty (Goal 1), hunger (Goal 2), health (Goal 3), education (Goal 4), gender equality (Goal 5), climate change (Goal 13) or violence against children (Goal 16.2).
Similarly, Articles 38 and 39 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, recognise that children require special considerations stating that parties should take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children. Thus, the international community should push for stronger accountability on these commitments; and the prioritisation of children’s rights in national policies and programmes for sustainable socio-economic development of the country; irrespective of where children live or what their circumstances are. Specifically, relevant multilateral and bilateral agencies should continue to support the government and all stakeholders to ensure that children enjoy their rights, because the rights-based approach pursues a vision of realizing the rights of every child, especially the most disadvantaged and responds to the call to “A Better Future for Every Child”, so that the rights of every child in Nigeria, will be fulfilled.