By Ndidichukwu Odoh
On the 2019 commemoration of Nigeria’s Children’s Day, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on Nigerians to ensure children grow, learn, play, develop and flourish in a decent environment.
UNICEF’s press statement on the day said Children in Nigeria are still not accessing health, nutrition, education and other rights to the extent that they must.
According to the release, “Nigerian Children’s Day 2019 falls during the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is being commemorated this year around the world.”
As part of the celebrations, UNICEF is launching a “Passport to Your Rights” – a copy of the CRC in child-friendly language, in pocket format. UNICEF aims that every child in Nigeria has a copy by 2030 – the deadline for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The CRC ‘passport’ will also be available in Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and Pidgin languages, helping to ensure access by millions of Nigerians.
The Fund said this is a crucial moment for child rights in the country, and for child rights globally. They launched a campaign to draw awareness to children’s rights by all of Nigerian society.
“While there have been many advances over the last years, children in Nigeria are still not accessing health, nutrition, education and other rights to the extent that they must,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s new Country Representative in Nigeria, who took up his post today. “Sadly, it is the most disadvantaged children who are suffering the greatest challenge in having their rights fulfilled.”
“Thirty years ago, something incredible happened. World leaders came together in a moment of unity for the world’s children. They made a promise to every child to protect and fulfil their rights, by adopting the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Conventon established childhood as a period that is separate from adulthood – a time in which children should grow, learn, play, develop and flourish,” said Peter Hawkins.
“We want to see every Nigerian child have that kind of a childhood,” said Peter Hawkins.
The Convention went on to become the most widely-ratified human rights treaty in history, with Nigeria ratifying it in 1991. It has helped to transform children’s lives; inspiring legislative changes to protect children and enabling them to participate actively in their societies.
“Today, more children than ever live healthy lives, are learning in school and have a voice in their communities. But much more needs to be done as children’s rights continue to be unfulfilled and threatened daily around the world and in Nigeria. There are still too many children being left behind, and too many childhoods cut short by violence, conflict, poverty and inequality,” said Peter Hawkins.
“On this Nigerian Children’s Day, we must look ahead to the future of childhood in this country, and re-commit to urgent, specific actions to protect the rights of every child – now, and in future generations.”
“Child rights will only be fully realized when every government and every citizen is aware of and upholds children’s rights, and every child can claim those rights. It is for this reason that we are launching a campaign ‘For every child, every right’ and will work closely with the government to ensure that all Nigerians are aware of the rights that all children have. This includes in particular children themselves.”
“Working together, we can seize this moment and make it a turning point for every child; I look forward to picking up this challenge, as the new UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria,” said Peter Hawkins.