Children’s Day: No Nigerian Child Should go to Bed Hungry – Saraki

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Bukola Saraki
Dr. Bukola Saraki
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Children’s Day: No Nigerian Child Should go to Bed Hungry – Saraki

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 2018 Children’s Day today, Senate President Bukola Saraki has averred that no Nigerian child should go to bed hungry. According to him, while due attention must be paid to children’s health as part of the vision to make the country stronger, their safety is non- negotiable. In his goodwill message to commemorate the 2018 Children’s Day and felicitate with children across the country, Saraki noted that Children Day gives the country an opportunity to celebrate the young ones and to fully consider the important place they occupy in the heart of the nation.

Bukola Saraki
Dr. Bukola Saraki

He said, “This is also a day to rededicate ourselves to the course of children. It is a day to recommit ourselves to doing all in our power to ensure that children are protected and empowered to aspire to be great in life, and to remove all impediments in their way.”

“Children are the leaders of tomorrow, our hope for the future. They are the ones we are depending on to take Nigeria to greater heights in the future. We must therefore ensure their health and well being through the laws we make and the policies we set.”

“I therefore call on us all to do our best to ensure that our children can live in liberty and in truth. No Nigerian child should go to bed hungry. Due attention must be paid to the health of the Nigerian child. This should be part of our vision to ‘Make Nigeria Stronger’. We must invest in the people by first investing in the Nigerian child.”

The Senate president also noted that the 1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for the Basic Health Fund, which the National Assembly included in the 2018 budget, will ultimately make for healthier Nigerian children through massive boost in increased funding for the sector.

He continued: “We are very excited about this. Furthermore, the safety of the Nigerian child is non-negotiable. We, therefore, today, make an unequivocal call for the release of all Nigerian children in captivity.

We remember Leah Sharibu and the other Dapchi Girls – as well as those Chibok Girls still in captivity, on this symbolic day. We affirm their right to freedom, to live carefree with their loved ones, to go to school, and for their dreams to remain intact.

“We urge all relevant authorities not to relent in the efforts to see that Leah Sharibu and all who are held captive are returned safe and unharmed. We must intensify efforts for the release of our Children, even as we felicitate with the families of all who have been released”.

He noted that issues of violence against children, child molestation, child labour and other evils committed against children remain a grave concern. “Last year, we held a consultative session in the Senate with the Speakers of State Houses of Assembly that had not domesticated the Child Rights Act; and I am encouraged to see that there has been some significant progress with reviewing the law to suit the local context in those states”, Saraki added.

Activists Demand Action Against Child Offenders: Meanwhile, activists in the country have demanded firm action against child offenders across the country. They all frowned at the persistent attacks on minors who are daily molested sexually in the country. Jose Foundation, an international nongovernmental organisation with penchant for the protection of children against child sexual exploitation (CSE), said the situation in the country cannot be allowed to continue where innocent children are abused sexually in homes, schools, camps of the displaced persons, religious places and others without consequences for the offenders.

In a statement he issued on the occasion of the 2018 Children’s Day, president of Jose Foundation, Prince Martins Abhulimhen, said the time has come for the authorities in Nigeria at all levels to stand firm and deal with the menace of child sexual exploitation without fear or favour.

To curb the problem, he added that Jose Foundation has planned a workshop coming in a fortnight in Abuja to provide training for relevant stakeholders on how to address the problem in the country.

He said, “Our Foundation is organising a high-powered workshop to train key stakeholders in child development on how to identify and address CSE. Join Jose Foundation to Celebrate the ‘Day of the Nigerian Child’. Join the Nigerian Child, CSE Workshop Abuja from June 11th-14th 2018, to depict the plight of African Children, enlighten those in attendance to know signs of identifying victims of Sexual Exploitations and Abuse. We must celebrate and lift our children, create an environment and platform for them to grow and excel.”

Abhulimhen, advice parents to stop giving out their children as child bride as they end up being sexually abused. On her part, the Initiator, Yellow Jerrycan Save A Child Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, Mrs. Adaora Onyechere stressed that poverty is the major cause leading high child mortality rate and malnutrition in children.

Onyechere also task federal government to intensify effort to improve the nutrition of children, adding that poverty is the central factor leading to children malnutrition in the country.

Speaking at an event to commemorate 2018 Children’s Day celebration themed, ‘Child Mortality and The Way Forward’, she commended the federal government for the introduction of school feeding programme in schools.

Encouraging the government to look for more ways to end malnutrition among children, she said, “How do we look at eradicating poverty in total is the major question because poverty is also malnutrition which is the result and effect of bad health and also insecurity and crime.”

“For us the reason why we have decided to focus specifically on malnutrition is because of the high level of mortality rate of children under the age of five in Nigeria.”

Also speaking, the chairman, Heath committee of the House of Representatives, Hon Chike Okafor said government is committed to eradicate malnutrition among children.

US Affirms Support For FG’s Efforts At Eliminating Child Labour: Meanwhile, the United States has commended and pledged support to Nigeria’s efforts in tackling child labour and promoting decent work.

The International Relations Officer (Africa Adviser) in the United States Department of Labour, Olaoluwa “Ola” Abina made the pledge while on a working visit to the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja yesterday.

“Our coming here is to boost the revitalization of labour inspection and occupational safety in Nigeria. We want to meet the stakeholders to find out where gap exists, so as to work together to design a better operational approach from our findings,” Olaoluwa said while stating his mission to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.

He recalled the strong representation made by Ngige for technical assistance at the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Conference organized by the United States Labour Department in September 2016, adding that he was in Nigeria to assess the situation.

Also speaking, the United States Embassy Labour Attaché in Nigeria, Mirna Torres, who accompanied Olaoluwa on the visit, noted that there is a significant decrease in the rate of child labour in Nigeria and commended then minister for championing the crusade.

In his response, Ngige said it was a clear administrative policy of the Buhari administration that decent work cannot be effectively promoted without tackling the scourge of child labour, hence the deliberate modeling of its Social Investment Programme to essentially benefit school children through a Home Grown School Feeding Programme, intended to make school attractive and assist parents who withdraw kids from school out of poverty. He said,

“We are planning to extend this programme of at least one nutritious feeding a day, to students in junior secondary schools, don’t forget that under our UBEC Prograeme, education is free up to junior secondary school is free.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in eliminating child labour as a fundamental step in promoting decent work. You cannot talk of decent work when you have under-aged children dropping out of school and joining the workforce in mining, agriculture and others. Even in agriculture where our tradition permits children to assist parents in the farm, there must be a limit.” Dwelling on other measures the federal government has taken in this direction, the minister said work was in progress on National Child Labour Policy to discourage out-of-school phenomenon and set penalties for defaulting parents.

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