By Aaron Ossai with agency reports
As Nigerians celebrate this year’s Children’s Day, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, and a group of Civil Society Organization have advocated the complete domestication and strict implementation of the Child Rights Act (CRA) across the country.
This consensus, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Sanni Onogu, was reached at a roundtable on “Advancing the Rights of the Nigerian Child” organized by the Office of the Senate President in commemoration of the 2017 Children’s Day celebration in Abuja.
Personalities and CSOs that participated in the roundtable discussion included the Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Kauwa Damina, representatives of the European Union (EU), The Malala Foundation, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Youths of Africa, National Democratic Institute (NDI), Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and a cross section of teachers, students and pupils from primary and secondary schools in Abuja.
While wishing Nigerian children a happy celebration, Saraki noted that the event was meant to celebrate the resilience and perseverance of Nigerian children in overcoming the many obstacles of childhood.
“With this in mind, we celebrate the recent release of the 82 Chibok girls and take the time to make a constructive and critical evaluation of our commitment to the next generation,” he said.
Speaking further, Saraki lamented that out of every five children, two currently live in poverty, millions in poor housing, crowded rooms, squalid conditions, on streets and affected by communal conflicts and insurgency.
“These types of beginnings,” the Senate President, who is also a trained medical doctor noted, “can hold a child back for the rest of his or her life. At just 22 months, a poor child’s skills already trail behind those of better-off toddlers at age five, that poor child, even if he or she is very bright will have been overtaken at school by a less talented but more privileged classmate.
“Releasing these children from that trap, unleashing their potentials is critical if we are to create a society that is truly fair. A starting point is to review what protection our laws offer this demographic vulnerability”, he stated.
He further stated that the existing laws which offer special protection to children and other vulnerable groups in the country include the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, (VAPP Act, 2015) and the Child Rights Act (2003).