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Involve us in decision-making process — Children urge FG

Principal Officers of State Children’s Parliament and Girl Ambassadors have called on the Federal Government to make them part of the decision-making process in Nigeria. They asked the authorities to always allow them to air their views on issues affecting them.

The children made the call on Thursday in a communiqué at the end of a two-day Capacity Building Training for Principal Officers of State Children’s Parliament and Girl Ambassadors. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training was organised by Save the Children International (SCI) in Abuja for the SCI implementing states of Benue, Borno, Cross River, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina and Yobe .

Others are members of the Child Rights Advocacy Club of GJSS Gwagwalada, FCT. The communiqué jointly presented by Mr Ibrahim Sunoma, Speaker, Borno State Children’s Assembly and Miss Etukudo Abasi, also said that positive behaviours and decision-making should be taught in families and schools.

The children said that the call became necessary because of some identified challenges affecting them which included child labour, child marriage, out-of-school children, insecurity, healthcare, mental health and child abuse. Others are gender inequality, limited access to education, school dropouts and discrimination .

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They tasked the government on provision of medical supplies and compensation for doctors to address health challenges of children. They also called for a child-friendly justice system and an increase in budgetary allocation for children’s healthcare.

The children called for stronger laws against children sexual abuse while rehabilitation should be provided for affected ones. They urged the government and NGO’s to campaign against all forms of abuse on children to help prevent molestation.

The children said that report centres should be effective so children could talk about abuse that affected them and there should be intervention for children who were victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation. They said this would strengthen child protection systems, including children’s homes where they could receive care. “There should be legislation and implementation of the Child Rights Act (CRA) and free education for all.

“Awareness on the consequences of early marriage which alters the course of a girl’s life and her potential should be raised. “Parents should be encouraged to take their children to school and false myths on western education should be shunned.

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“Leaders should create an enabling environment for education and government should invest more in education for out-of-school children.’’ The children said that quality of education should be improved while parents needed to improve knowledge and commitment to contribute to enrolling their children in school at the right age and time.

They said that security agents should be equipped with tools to protect children from attack and stronger security strategies should be carried out in affected areas. They added that to help in preventing attacks on schools, cattle ranching policy should be implemented to prevent cattle-herder crises and more security personnel should be deployed to affected areas.

The children said that there was need to raise awareness in rural areas and religious leaders about educating girls with the provision of enough schools for girls to attend . They called for free education and adequate teaching personnel to be provided as well.

They also said that an agency should be directed to ensure attendance of children in schools during school hours while there should be provision of disability care canters and discrimination should be discouraged. They appealed to the Nigerian government to fulfill its commitment to increase education funding and ensure that states and their local government also invested in education.

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Mr Amanuel Mamo, Director, Advocacy and Campaigns, SCI, Nigeria said that Children’s Day celebration was another opportunity for the organisations to celebrate children. Mamo called upon stakeholders at Federal, State and Local Government Areas (LGAs) to renew their commitments to protect, respect and fulfil the rights of the child as articulated in the Child Rights Act (2003).

“Having the opportunity to listen to these children over the last two days is a reason, more than enough, to celebrate children. ”If the future is at hand, therefore, we are given historical opportunity and responsibility to shape and paint the futures as bright as we want it to be. “The smart thing to do to paint the future is to invest in children.‘’

Mamo called upon the states yet to pass the Child Protection Bill to prioritise the adoption and enforcement of the Child Rights Act (2003). He called for a stronger collaboration, coordination and cooperation between all relevant stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, donors, civil society organisations, NGOs, communities and the media.

This is to ensure no child is left behind or excluded from the opportunity to survive, learn and be protected from all forms of abuse and violence, simply because of gender, disability, cultural practices or other structural barriers.

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