Mohamed Fall, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria, has called on the Federal Government to implement recommendations on newly inaugurated reports on child protection in the country.
The reports are Financial Benchmark on Child Protection Services and the Economic Burden of Violence Against Children.
Fall made the appeal at the inauguration of the two reports in Abuja on Thursday.
He said the implementation would help the country to achieve target 16.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He also emphasised the need to invest more in the protection of children in the country.
“With the report we now know that violence against children, in any form, not only has a lifelong impact on a child’s physical and psychological development, it also eventually results in diminished human capital, affecting all of society.
“These reports are important because if Nigeria does not achieve the SDGs, including those on ending violence against children, the world will not achieve the SDGs. And the world is watching us,’’ the UNICEF official said.
Fall, who noted this year as the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, said “the inauguration was an important moment of reflection on the state of children’s rights in Nigeria 30 years after the world committed to promoting and protecting them’’.
He said it was an opportunity to reflect on what could be done to improve situation in Nigeria and measures needed to be in place to ensure that children could live happy, safe and productive lives.
Fall said that to combat the issue of violence against children and ensuring their protection a strong and comprehensive child protection system must be in place nationwide.
The UNICEF representative, who frowned at the current low fiscal budget and subsequent expenditure on child protection services, added that it was lower than 0.5 per cent of Nigeria’s total expenditures.
Specifically, he said that in 2015 about N10.1 billion or 0.16 per cent of the consolidated Federal and State expenditure was recorded.
“Currently, government expenditures cover mainly responsive child protection services, thereby neglecting the importance of essential preventive measures like the domestication of the Child Rights Act in all 36 states including the FCT.
“It also neglects ensuring universal access to birth registration services, giving an identity to each and every child and raising awareness of child abuse due to some prevailing social norms and harmful practices.
“To implement a comprehensive child protection system with a strong legal foundation, the reports not only call for a reallocation of only 0.1 per cent of Nigeria’s budget to child protection services, but also highlighted the necessity of adequate release of funds during the fiscal year,’’ he said.
“As child rights advocates, we at UNICEF firmly believe in the importance of investing in children, keeping in view the need to protect and promote the rights of each and every child, including protecting our children from any form of violence.
“Together, we can make a positive change and when Nigeria succeeds, the region and the entire continent has the potential to succeed and to ensure no child is left behind,’’ he added.
Fall reiterated the commitment of the organisation to partner with the Nigerian government and to also provide continued support in the areas of child protection towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. (NAN)