The Nigeria News Agency reports that Mrs Nma Onyechere, its National Coordinator, made the call on Tuesday at the opening of “National Consultative Conference on Protecting Children and Vulnerable Persons in Nigeria” in Abuja.
The conference, holding from Nov. 25 to 26, with the theme “Raising the Bar on the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Groups in Nigeria: Towards Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals on Children in Nigeria.”
The conference had delegates from states ministry of women affairs, stakeholders from the academia and operators of orphanages across Nigeria, and other government functionaries.
She identified insecurity, rape, domestic violence, lack of affordable education and other forms of deprivations as challenges facing the Nigerian child that demand urgent attention from governments at all levels.
“The issues affecting the Nigerian child are getting out of hand and have become worrisome, as some Nigerian children are now being recruited as child soldiers.
“On a daily basis, we hear, read and see high rate of rape, child’s street trading and the numbers of out-of-school children in increasing.
“The Nigerian child is in serious need of protection at the family level and the community level because of high rate of divorce and children abandonment among other things negative affecting them.
“When you hear about crisis at the community level, a lot of children are involved, so there is need for the government at all level to declare state of emergency on the Nigeria child.
“The Police, social workers and other relevant stakeholders from local government to the federal level will then treat issues affecting children with dexterity and the concerns it required.
“They will now understand that they owe it to the country to make sure that the child in their care is protected,” she said.
Onyechere, a former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development in Imo State, therefore, called on policy makers for a workable legal framework that will protect the rights and interests of children.
She explained that the conference was for stakeholders to brainstorm and chart a common front towards addressing emerging challenges and realities facing the Nigerian child of today.
“If we do not do what we are supposed to do today as leaders and parents, these vulnerable children will come back to fight the society that neglect them tomorrow.
“In line with the theme of this conference, we have come to the Nation’s capital to deliberate, make suggestions and seek opinion for the way forward in making life better for the Nigerian child.
“A lot of efforts have been put in place, but will need to do more by raising the bar in terms of education, advocacy and child’s right protection,” she said.
Declaring the conference open, Mrs Pauline Tallen, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, commended the Child Trust Action for its overall efforts in leading advocacy and rallying support for the Nigerian child.
The minister, who was represented by Mr Ali Madugu, a Deputy Director in the Child Development Department of the Ministry, said the ministry was ready to work with NGO’s and development partners.
“I appreciate the concerns and supportive role of the Child Trust in the overall efforts of caring and protecting Nigerian children and families.
“The ministry is proud to be associated with you and will continue to support and participate in relevant processes that will ensure the protection of children and vulnerable persons in Nigeria. ”
Edited & Vetted By: Dorcas Jonah/Ifeyinwa Omowole