Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, says the country has achieved a lot in her quest to end child marriage.
“Nigeria has made steady positive advances in the struggle to end child marriage. The Child Rights Act is one of the most progressive means of legislation on the subject in Africa,” he said.
He therefore says Nigeria will continue to collaborate with other African countries to eradicate the practice on the continent.
While speaking at Nigeria’s launch of the campaign to end the practice of child marriage in all parts of the country, the Vice President said the fight against early marriage must continue and Nigeria will always collaborate with other African countries to end the practice of child marriage which he said has coloration with poverty and affects the physical and mental health of girls forced into marriage.
Professor Osinbajo reiterates that the Nigerian government is working hard to build on the progress it has made in tackling the problem of child marriage in all parts of the country.
He said religious leaders and traditional rulers, as well as parents and guardians must discourage the practice, which he said has deprived the girl child the opportunity to play her part in developing herself and the society.
“The battle is now for the minds of men and women who for one reason or the other still believe that child marriage’s right. We have to begin to right the wrongs that have been done to these young girls and it is the surest way of unleashing their abundant potentials and enable them to make meaningful contributions to their immediate families and to the development of our nation,” he said.
The Vice President emphasized that government is deeply involved in the fight and all its agencies must get involved in stopping the practice.
“The campaign is not just for the ministry of women affairs alone, it’s a task for every department of government. Our position is clear, no child marriage,” the Vice President stated.
On Nigeria’s strategy on ending child marriage, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhasan said the survival and protection of children remains very important to government.
“As a country that recognises the importance of protection, survival and participation and development of children, we consider it very necessary to raise awareness on the issues around child marriage. Children are gifts from God and must therefore be adequately catered for and be well protected because they are the greatest investment for the sustainable development of the nation,” she said.
The minister added that government intends to reduce children marriage by 40% by the year 2020 and have zero child marriage by 2030, as contained in the National strategy document on ending child marriage.
Speaking on behalf of the Wives of Governors of the thirty six states, the wife of Kaduna State Governor, Mrs Hadiza El-Rufai pledged to help end the practice, which she said was common in Northern Nigeria.
She said, “Children must be allowed to be children. It’s very good that this campaign has been launched, particularly for us the wives of the Governors of the Northern States even though this is a problem all over the country but it happens more in our own communities. So on behalf of the wives of Governors, we are totally committed to this and we will join hands to make sure that the objectives of this programme are achieved.”
There were goodwill messages from the UN Resident Coordinator, the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria.
The two main religions, Islam and Christianity also presented their perspectives, condemning the practice of child marriage.
A national strategy on ending child marriage was presented to the public which the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the minister of Women Affairs,Social Development, Mrs Aisha Alhassan said will help address the problem.
Highpoint of the occasion was a drama presentation by the Children’s Parliament of the FCT, where they called on the National Assembly to enact a law against the practice of child marriage.