By Chika Onyesi
In 1989 world leaders inaugurated the convention on the rights of a child, aimed at protecting children everywhere in the world.
The child rights act took into account the different cultural, social economic and political realities of individual nations.
Though the circumstances around the welfare of children have changed globally, the provisions of the act remains the same 30 years after
The United Nation’s however insists that ‘‘the law to protect children must be implemented across board despite these varying situations’’.
According to UNICEF, ‘‘Africa has the highest number of dependent children, 3 out of 10 of these children live in fragile and conflict affected areas’’.
This ultimately means that their rights to life, education health, protection and safety is already jeopardized, leaving the children prone to abuse.
In Nigeria, a huge number of children work as caregivers in non-family homes while others engage in multiple forms of labour to support their parents.
The UNICEF estimates that about 40% of girls in Nigeria are married at 15years or younger while about 44% are married before they are 18.
As of 2009, there were an estimated 17.5 million orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria, UNICEF says.
Most of these children without guidance or protection now form the larger percentage of those trafficked, molested or abused.
In efforts to realize the rights for children, Nigeria ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, (CRC) in 1991.
28 years after, ‘‘only 24 states have signed the Act into law while 11 others including; Sokoto, Kano, Zamfara, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Adawama and Gombe are yet to ratify the Act’’. This is according to a UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Mrs Sharoon Oladiji.
She said 8 out of 19 Northern states that ratified the Act are; Niger, FCT, Nasarawa, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Kwara and Kogi while Jigawa state which originally signed the act into law later repealed it.
But all the 17 states in the south have fully domesticated the Act.
Now that the United nations is about to commemorate the CRC@30, the childrens charity says ‘‘realizing the rights of children & ensuring their protection must include an end to exploitation of children, elimination of violence against children, putting an end to child marriage, ending trafficking of children and totally eliminating child labour’’.
But increasing the number of states domesticating and implementing the Act in Nigeria is perhaps the most viable solution to ending the abuse of children and a sure key to achieving the well-being of the Nigerian child.