The federal government has called for new strategies to mitigate harmful practices against children in the country.
This is as stakeholders called for increased budgetary allocations to boost education, health and others areas that have direct impacts on the wellbeing of the children.
They made the call in Abuja at the 2022 commemoration of The Day of the African Child (DAC), organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Plan International Nigeria, Save the Children International Nigeria and other partners.
It was themed, ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices affecting children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013’, linked to DAC 2013 ‘Eliminating harmful, social and cultural practices affecting children: our collective responsibility’.
The Executive Secretary, NHRC, Dr Tony Ojukwu (SAN), called for an acceleration of collective efforts to improve the well-being of children and their protection against harmful practices.
Ojukwu, represented by Director Monitoring Department, Mr Benedict Agu, said that there is a need for more deliberate interventions to improve the lots of children in the country.
He said, “It is another opportunity to reflect on policies and practices affecting children and the way forward.
“The Day presents an opportunity to take stock of what has been done with regards to the adoption of policies and practices.
“We need to reflect on what more needs to be done; to effectively eliminate harmful practices affecting children in Africa. Lots of children are faced with psychological, sexual and economic violence and exploitation.
“These issues have not only had a devastating effect on their lives, it has also negatively impacted on their rights and access to education.”
On her part, a member African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Ms Aver Gavar, said the day is for introspection and stocktaking.
According to her, the committee is to lead continental efforts to address harmful practices and they have adopted the AU Agenda 2040 (Fostering an Africa fit for children) in 2015.
She said, “The Agenda 2040 sets out ten aspirations to be achieved by 2040 and identifies action steps to be taken by AU member states towards its implementation.
“I call on the government to strengthen its child protection system through increased budgetary lines across sectors dealing with child rights implementation and integrated response to all forms of violence against children.”
Also, Country Director Plan International Nigeria, Mr Charles Usie, represented by the Communications Advisor, Yunus Abdulhamid, called for stiffer punishment for every offence committed against children as part of measures to drastically reduce child abuse and other forms of violence against children.
He recalled that the commemoration recalls the 1976 uprisings in Soweto when a protest by school children in South Africa against discrimination in the education system resulted in the public killing of unarmed young protesters by police officials.
The Director of Programmes, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), Hajiya SuwaibaMuhammad Dankabo, who represented the AAN Country Director, Ms Ene Obi, said that the present efforts on protecting the children against harmful practices that have recorded some gains should be sustained in the interest of the country and future generations.