Nigeria Must Look Ahead, Recommit to Specific Actions to Protect Children – UNICEF

By Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna

For a better and a brighter future to be built for the Nigerian Child, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said the country must look ahead to the future of childhood and re-commit to urgent, specific actions to protect the rights of every child – now, and in future generations.

Speaking at an event to commemorate the Nigerian Children’s day in Kaduna, Dr Zakari Adam, Chief of UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, said Child rights will only be fully realized when every government and every citizen is aware of and upholds children’s rights, and every child can claim those rights.

“It is for this reason that we are launching a campaign ‘For every child, every right’ and will work closely with the government to ensure that all Nigerians are aware of the rights that all children have. This includes in particular children themselves.

“Today, more children than ever live healthy lives, are learning in school and have a voice in their communities. But much more needs to be done as children’s rights continue to be unfulfilled and threatened daily around the world and in Nigeria. There are still too many children being left behind, and too many childhoods cut short by violence, conflict, poverty and inequality.

“Working together, we can seize this moment and make it a turning point for every child; I look forward to picking up this challenge, in partnership with Kaduna state government and other key stakeholders working for children.” He added.

As part is activities marking the day, the UNICEF Chief disclosed that the agency has launched a campaign, ‘For every child, every right’.

According to him the day, came “at a crucial moment for child rights in the country, and for child rights globally. We are launching the campaign to draw awareness to children’s rights for the Nigerian society.

“While there have been many advances over the last years, children in Nigeria are still not accessing health, nutrition, education and other rights to the extent that they must. In Nigeria, it is the most disadvantaged children who are suffering the greatest challenge in having their rights fulfilled.

“Nigerian Children’s Day 2019 falls during the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is being commemorated this year around the world.”

He explained that, as part of the celebrations, UNICEF is launching a “Passport to Your Rights” – a copy of the CRC in child-friendly language, in pocket format. UNICEF aims that every child in Nigeria has a copy by 2030 – the deadline for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The CRC ‘passport’ will also be available in Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and Pidgin languages, helping to ensure access by millions of Nigerians.”

Dr. Zakari, explained that the celebration was birthed by the decision world leaders took thirty years ago when they came together in a moment of unity for the world’s children. He said those leaders made a promise to every child to protect and fulfil their rights, by adopting the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention He added was established childhood as a period that is separate from adulthood – a time in which children should grow, learn, play, develop and flourish. In fact, we want to see every Nigerian child have that kind of a childhood.

“The Convention went on to become the most widely-ratified human rights treaty in history, with Nigeria ratifying it in 1991. It has helped to transform children’s lives; inspiring legislative changes to protect children and enabling them to participate actively in their societies.

He therefore, thank Fifthchukker and other key players and partners for providing the enabling environment to celebrate the important occasion with children, saying, “together, we can deliver greater results for children. Happy celebrations to the Nigerian children.

“I wish to also thank the Kaduna state government for the collaborative efforts in ensuring the realization of rights of children especially with the passage of the Kaduna State Child Welfare and Protection Law 2018.”

UNICEF in collaboration with Fifthchukker, Ministry of Education Kaduna state gathered 200 children drawn from both public and public schools to commemorate the day at Fifthchukker, Kangimi resort.

The children had the opportunity to exercise their right to play and leisure and facilities were made available to the children where they had fun with music dance, horse riding, polo game, football, beads assembling, drawings and paintings to enhance their creative arts culture. The children also used the opportunity to plant a tree as part of efforts to checkmate the growing climate change.

The event was also an opportunity for UNICEF to introduce to the children and the general public the plan to commemorate the Convention of the Rights of Children (CRC) 30th anniversary come 20th November, 2019 which will be celebrated by countries all over the world including Nigeria. Accordingly, the children’s day event provided the opportunity to launch the campaign for CRC@30 activities which would be tailored in all activities related to children till November, 2019.

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