Nigerian Children Parliament Lampoons Federal Government For Failng To Bring The Chibok Girls Back Home Despite The Promise To Do So
Kingsley Madaki & Charity Simon, Abuja
With prospects of rescuing the abducted Chibok Girls becoming bleaker, Nigerian children yesterday expressed doubts over the sincerity of the Federal Government to fulfill its promise to bring the girls back alive. They insisted that all they wanted was to see the missing girls brought back home safe and alive.
Speaking on behalf of the Nigerian children during the launch of the year of Action to End Violence Against Children, speaker of the Nigerian Children Parliament, Aisha Ibrahim, said several children had become victims of physical, sexual and emotional violence.
She stressed that most abused children have no one to confide in. The Year of Action to End Violence against Children was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari who frowned on the high rate of crimes against children as disclosed by a recent survey.
The Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey, carried out by the National Population Commission, with support from United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that six out of every 10 children under the age of 18 years experience some form of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18 years.
The survey found that one in two children experience physical violence; one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence; and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence. The majority of children do not tell anyone what has happened to them and fewer than five per cent receive the help they need to recover.
Speaking at the launch, President Buhari stated that “this is a historic day, a day when Nigeria stands up and says to our children. We commit to protecting you from violence.”
“These findings are an urgent call to action not only for the Government, but also for civil society organizations, religious and traditional groups, the media, the private sector, communities, parents and families to come together to tackle violence against children,” the President added, pledging the full commitment of the his administration to tackle violence against children.
But little Aisha Ibrahim called attention on the need for the federal government, and the law makers, to implement laws and policies that prevent and respond to violence, increase budgetary allocation to child protection and improve monitoring and evaluation on violence against children in the country. “It is time for other states in the country to emulate Lagos and Akwa Ibom state by adopting and implementing the child right act.
Though it is one thing to say it and its entirely another thing to implement it. “Today is the day we Nigerian children are saying no to child abuse and with the support of NGOs and Ambassadors the issue of child abuse will soon be curbed in the country. “We need to join hands together to make it a civil responsibility so that children living in Nigeria should have nothing to worry about”, she said.
The Children Parliament speaker said the parliament will continue to mount pressure on the government to implement the Child Right Act, adding that the law will soon catch up with parents involved in child molestation.
Also speaking at the event, the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, canvassed need for parents to instill discipline in their children. “When you prevent the children from being violated, they grow up to be well adjusted children so we as parents and guardians are to train our children with love and care.
“Domestication is the key and Nigerians have keyed into it and it will not take time because it is all about sensitization and we as the Nigerian Police will show the capacity to deal with the violators of children in the society”, he said.
Meanwhile, UNICEF Representative, Jean Gough, who also spoke, congratulated Nigeria for undertaking the survey, which he noted was the first of its kind in Nigeria. “The Government is not only to be congratulated for undertaking this groundbreaking survey, but also for making the findings widely known, shining a spotlight on what the survey shows is a significant problem in Nigeria”, he said.
According to him, the survey found that violence impacts millions of children’s lives every year across Nigeria. “You cannot help but be shocked by the huge numbers of children experiencing violence. But sometimes we can get lost in the statistics.
Let’s remember that each statistic represents an individual child suffering violence –a four year old
boy being intentionally burnt for misbehaving, a 13 year old girl being repeatedly raped by her neighbour, a 7 year old being told again and again – “you are worthless, I wish you were dead” by their own mother.
“Also, when many people think of physical, sexual and emotional violence against children, they think of it as happening to someone else, to someone’s else’s family and in someone else’s community. But the Survey findings are clear – violence against children is a problem that transcends social and economic status.
It impacts rich and poor, urban and rural, educated and out of school children. The findings of the survey highlight that violence is not confined to poor families, nor to marginalized children or children living in the shadow of conflict”, he stated.
“When we leave the venue today, I hope that each and every one of us – government, non-government organizations, religious and traditional leaders, UN agencies and development partners, the media, as well as communities, families and children -will leave with absolute commitment and energy to take action to ensure that all children in Nigeria can grow up free from violence”, he added.