Child Protection: Women Affairs Minister advocates partnership with Nigerian Government

Jumoke Ogidan

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Stakeholders have been urged to collaborate with the Nigerian government to ensure that vulnerable children on the streets are adequately protected and reintegrated back to school for national development.

Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen made the appeal in Abuja at the commemoration of the International Day for the Street Child.

The International Day for Street Children celebrated annually on the 12th of April, is a day set aside by the United Nations for Children around the world to speak out so their rights cannot be ignored.

The Minister of women affairs who was represented by the Deputy Director of Children Development, Mr Andrew said part of the efforts made to respond to challenges encountered by the street children was the child right act which must be implemented in the thirty-six states and the FCT.

“The federal ministry of women affairs has assiduously ensured that the child right act is implemented in all the thirty-six states and FCT of the federation.

“The child right act has the provisions to take care of all the issues that we are addressing here, he noted.

The Minister also noted that a committee has been set up to ensure that children are taken out of the streets and are taken back to school in no time, stressing that the Federal Government was doing all it could to ensure that the rights and privileges of the Nigerian child were taken care of.

“There is a need to have an alternative care particularly with orphanages. A committee has been set up and it comprises of all stakeholders including development partners, CSOs, government at the state and federal levels and MDAs in order to see how we can fully implement the alternative care in Nigeria.”

The Representative of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes, Dr Femi Ajayi, also said that stakeholders must have an actionable point as the menace of street children could degenerate into worsening situation in the society.

“What we are witnessing today in some parts of the country: terrorism, banditry all started like this and because it was not arrested, it turned out to be something the state cannot manage.”

He added that it was fundamental for the children to be taken off the streets and given a normal life, stressing that children must be equipped with knowledge and skills of their choice.

“It is not enough to get them off the street, we must engage them as most of them have one major yearning- to go back to school. What we actually need is for the stakeholders to have an actionable point, something that would be concrete.”

The UNODC resolved that a communique be drafted and submitted to stakeholders in the Nigerian government and progress must equally be monitored so that the children would benefit positively.

“In every state of the country, we have the ministry of education and ministry of humanitarian affairs- these ministries have the mandate to tackle this kind of problem. We need a kind of communique, something that would bring to the attention of the ministers of problems in certain communities and the progress also needs to be monitored.”

The UNICEF spokesperson, a Child Protection Specialist,Mrs Sharon, said there was need to protect and empower the street children especially in this pandemic.

“Children on the streets are often neglected and we have seen that they face risk of exposure to harm, decreased livelihood, lack of access to life-saving services including education protection services and healthcare.

“For years, these children have not only missed out of these essential services but they are also excluded from the development frameworks, policies and national budgets. Children on the streets are prone to crimes, delinquencies and manipulation to adult and criminal gangs.”

She called on every stakeholder in the society to prioritize protecting every Nigerian child.

“We need to call on everybody to prioritise children with programmes and services to reach these children on the streets with essential services including education.”

One of the children at the program, Ibrahim Mohammed, called on the government to provide education for them as well as rehabilitation centres for children who have been exposed to drug use.

PIAK

 

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