THE NIGERIAN CHILDThirteen years ago, Nigeria reached a major landmark in its nascent step to ensure every Nigerian child is given a voice. The child act right of 2003 passed at the Federal level of the country allows the domestication of convention on the rights of children. This acts allows the right of children to be recognized and respected across the country.
Sadly, since the passage of this law since 2003, only 16 states of the 36 states in the country has adopted the act at the state level. And among the 16 states, only one state has fully implemented the constitutional rights of children. This shows the herculean task that lies before Nigerian children and their guardians. The failure of the national assembly to abolish child marriage also puts the most populous black nation in the world in a cesspool of child human rights violation. Rife in the country are scenes of children hawking, begging, and more shocking in recent times, female children being sexually abused and raped.
I believe the whole nation through individuals and organizations must all come together to kick this evil out of the country, and out of the continent. Geneva declared that “humanity has to do its best for the child”. A popular quote also says, “Children are the future of tomorrow” and it doesn’t take too much persuasion to agree to the fact that the children are the future. Of what use will our legacies be if we have no one around to learn from them. This is why we should protect our children and see to it that they are well cared for and catered to as the children’s act rights directs.
According to the children’s rights, a child is any person who has not reached the age of eighteen years. The children’s rights are the human rights of the children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors. This rights include their right to association with both parents, human identity, as well as basic needs for physical protection, food, universal state paid education, health care, and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child, equal protection of the child’s civil rights, and freedom from discrimination on the basis of the child’s race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, color, ethnicity, or other characteristics.
The whole idea behind the child’s act and right is that, though still small and young, and mostly incapable of recognizing what’s right from what’s wrong, the child is still a human being and should be treated as such, but not equally with an adult. It is the vulnerability of the child that calls for the protection of the child, by the parents and the community as a whole. There is an adage in Nigeria that says, it is not only the parents of the child that train the child, but the whole community. So, it is needful for the community as a whole, and the nation at large to do its part in training every child within its vicinity and seeing that they are all cared for.
Nigeria adopted the Childs Rights Act to domesticate the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 2003. It was passed into law at the Federal level but only 16 states out of the possible 36 states have had its State Assembly pass this to Act. Unless the State Assemblies pass this Act into law in their respective states, the Federal law is inactive. Because of this, Nigeria has been unable to handle several issues concerning the protection of the child. This can be seen as there are numerous children living on the street; these children lack adequate feeding and welfare. They do not have access to basic education, and are exposed to communal conflicts and also life threatening diseases like cholera, malaria etc. In the event of these health attacks, these children don’t have access to the required medical attention that they duly need to get better. And the list goes on.
A lot of these children grow up on the streets and become nuisances to the community that refused or did little to nothing to care for them. In a means to make ends meet and have access to some basic amenities, these children resolve to stealing, prostitution, fraudulent acts and even murder. While some are guilty of the acts, a large number of them are unjustly rounded up as gang members and prostitutes and sent to jail without trial. Still under 18, these “children” are treated as adults and sent to adult correction facilities and prisons, without giving them an opportunity to defend themselves or their actions. They are not given the chance to see a social worker or even given the benefit of a lawyer to defend them.
At the Fademi Jacobson Foundation, we believe that every child deserves a happy life, we believe every child deserves a chance to experience childhood and its exuberance rather than be thrown into the chaos of adulthood before they know what the word actually mean. Children should not be burdened with worries and world problems. We seek to see every child provided with the care and protection they need and in line with UNICEF;
- Child survival and development
- Child education
- Child protection and social inclusion