Rasheed Abdulganiyu is a ten-year old boy who lives in Karu community, in Abuja. His younger brother fell sick, and the mother sent him to purchase drugs at the Pharmacy very close to the house.
Unfortunately for Rasheed, on getting to the shop, he met a young lady who accused him of stealing a phone during transaction in the shop.
The lady claimed that she placed the phone on the counter while making her payment, and the boy was the only customer at that point in time.
The young boy was arrested by a Police officer, and charged for stealing phone.
He was later discharged in the night when his parent paid the sum of Twenty thousand Naira as bail.
Few weeks later, the owner of the Pharmacy shop told Rasheed’s mum that the phone was misplaced by the lady before getting to the Pharmacy shop, and she later saw the real culprit with the phone.
Rasheed being a minor, is not meant to be arrested in an ideal situation, or much more making payment for bail.
It is however disheartening that thousands of Nigerian children’s right are being violated on a daily basis.
Every child in Nigeria and all over the world has some basic right, but it is sad that the right is not usually protected in real life.
World leaders came together in 1989, and made a historic commitment to the world’s children. They made a promise to every child to protect and fulfill their rights, by adopting an international legal framework, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Contained in this treaty is a profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their own rights. The Convention says childhood is separate from adulthood, and lasts until 18; it is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity. The Convention went on to become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives.
But 30 years after the Convention, Nigeria has not made significant process in the implementation of the treaty. It is essential for the newly elected leaders to ensure that priority is given to child protection issues in the country.
UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Sharon Oladiji said Special attention is required for Nigeria in terms of child protection issues; the country with the largest increase in absolute numbers of both births and child population.
While stating that investing in girls and women, especially in reproductive health, education, and preventing child marriage is key to Africa’s demographic transition.
She harped on the fact that the SDG targets will anchor the child protection work and the indicators will assist in tracking and strengthening accountability.
“The global goals will provide the metrics and parameters to better track and report on progress and effectiveness of investments in children.
Oladiji highlighted that Goal 16 which relates to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels is key to realizing child protection in the country.
“The Targets include, among others, reducing all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere (16.1); ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children (16.2); and providing legal identity for all including birth registration by 2030 (16.9).”
The UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Sharon Oladiji disclosed that there is need to place high attention on birth registration in the country.
She advised Parents to obtain Birth certificate at the end of child-birth in Nigeria.
According to her, currently only 30 percent of under 5 children are registered in Nigeria, from the NDHS 2013 report.
“Only 44 percent of Africa’s births are registered, leaving an estimated 85 million children under 5 unregistered.
Eight of the 10 countries with the lowest levels of birth registration are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria having the largest population of unregistered children.”
IMPLEMENTATION OF CHILD RIGHT ACT
According to Hameed Jimoh, a Social and Human Right Activist, it is essential to implement the provision of the Child Right Act in all states in the country.
While noting that the implementation will ensure that Education and every other essential need by the children in Nigeria is duly met.
He also explained that the annual Budget for Education should also be increased, as it will enable children from humble background to have access to knowledge, irrespective of the status of the parent in the society.
“Education is the right of every child. There has been much breakdown in the sector due to the fact that so many children are engaging in cultism and hooliganism on a daily basis, without much effort being put in place by constituted authorities to mitigate the act”.
“If you go to so many communities, you will see children roaming the streets during school hours, this is not right at all. We can see the rate of kidnapping has increased on a daily basis.
Some adults who have dirty minds have been able to influence the children in engaging in occultism and other evil activities.”
Jimoh further charged the new elected policy makers to enact laws and policies that will ensure that the number of Out of School Children is reduced drastically.
“The statistics coming out of the country is not encouraging in terms of Out of School children. The newly elected Governors should ensure that the number is reduced at the state level, they should work closely with the different State Education Ministry in order to make positive changes in the sector. This is very critical as part of measures to achieve the SDGs goal”.
In the same vein, he condemned the issue of terrorism that has eaten deep into the fabric of the society.
“The children need to be given orientation that crime do not pay, but rather cause harm and evil to innocent citizens, who are going about their legal activities. If we look at some part of the country, innocent lives are being snuffed out, due to Terrorism.
Several years ago, we do not witness such activities in the country. It is now time for all Nigerians to act before it is too late.”
An Educationist and Teacher Trainer, Edumebi Esiri spoke on the need for parents and guardians not to bedevil the child with unnecessary responsibility, in terms of finance.
She condemned the act of child labour strongly, stating that it makes the young child to lose its innocence, and become an accidental adult .She advised Parents to deviate from encouraging their children to engage in small trading, when they are supposed to be in four walls of the school or learning a skill that will pay off later in life.
Esiri added that this act makes the children to grow up having responsibilities in their arms, and thereby not enjoying their childhood.
“The government should enforce and implement policies that will discourage Parent from placing heavy responsibilities on the children right from a tender age. This will place a caution on the side of some parents who do not care about meeting up with their social responsibilities towards their wards, but rather sees them as liabilities, which is not the case”.
PROTECTING THE RIGHT OF THE NIGERIAN CHILD
The right of the Nigerian child has to be protected at all times, and we must not therefore infringe on their right to enjoy their childhood. Irrespective of their location, ethnicity or religion, the right must be protected at all times.
The Educationist, Edumebi Esiri affirmed on the need for constant orientation of Parent and Guardians, on the dangers inherent in practicing Child Labour, and the ripple effect it has on the society at large.
“My heart bleeds whenever I see some parents released their children to trusted family members to train, by sending them to school, in exchange for doing menial jobs. You find out that most times, the relatives bridge the arrangement, and end up doing whatsoever they like, and sometimes make them pass through excruciating pain.”
In some instances, they will not provide the children with basic necessities of life, which often make them to start keeping bad company. The Guardian in most cases, do not remember that they are not always at home, and their children end up learning bad vices from the wards that lives with them.
“Whatever rationale the Parents have for sending their children out to work. They need to be guided, because it has been found out that, whenever people are not guided by rules and regulations they tend to misbehave.
Every child has a Right to quality Education. If as a society, we do not give them their rightful inheritance, we are going to suffer for this act of negligence.”
She also charged the parents and the leaders to value the Education of Nigerian child, as they are the hope and future of tomorrow.
“A child of five years old today, will in the next Fifteen years become a responsible adult. When we look at the adult of tomorrow, they are the children of today. So we should not relent on our oars, until we get it right in terms of Education.”
UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Denise Onoise said Parents and Guardian should ensure that the right of the child is not violated.
He therefore charged the guardians to deviate from any act that can make the child to be prone to child abuse.
While citing that most times, the abused is always in a relationship with the child, they are people often being entrusted to care for the children.
“Parent should learn to listen to both the verbal and nonverbal communication that the children often pass across. They should be given room to express themselves at all times. Some Parents and Guardian shut their kids up, when they are trying to pass an important message across.”
UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Sharon Oladiji indicated that the purpose of the Generation 2030 series on child demographics, is not to answer all of the many policy questions its analysis raises, but rather to begin to pose the questions and spark debate and discourse that will hopefully lead to decisive and determined action for African Countries.
“There is need for African countries to begin to plan for the future of the youth, and also put in place strong measures that ensures that the continent witnesses positive development in this age and time. It is high time to acknowledge our shared responsibility to the future of Nigeria and Africa, and take policy decisions required for all Nigerian children, present and future, to finally realize all their rights”.
Speaking on the dire need to monitor the Population explosion in Africa, she highlighted that the Generation 2030 report shows that Four in 10 of the world’s people will be African by the end of this century.
“It clearly indicates that A billion children will live in Africa by mid-century, this gives more room to prepare and make projections into the future.
Africa has the highest child dependency ratio in the world, more than any other region. Africa’s children lie at the heart of its demographic and social transition. Today, almost 47 per cent of Africans are children under 18.” The Generation 2030 series Report further shows that In 15 African countries, more than half of the total population are children under 18.“Almost 2 billion babies will be born in Africa between 2015 and 2050 due to high fertility rates, and increasing number of women of reproductive age.”
She indicated that Child survival has improved in Africa, but the continent still accounts for half of all child deaths, and this figure is set to rise to around 70 per cent by mid-century.
“In Africa, one in every 11 children born still dies before their fifth birthday, a rate 14 times greater than in the average in high-income countries.”
The global trend of urbanization has taken a severe toll on children in the country, and the world at large.