NIGERIAN Children have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to treat with urgency many issues affecting the interest and future of children in the country.
In an Open Letter written on behalf of Nigerian children by Purity Oriaifo – Girl Child Ambassador, Save the Children International Nigeria and Maryam Ahmed – Youth Ambassador, Save the Children International, Nigeria, to President Buhari on the occasion of the African Child’s day celebration, they lamented that the impacts of COVID-19 have put children’s right to accessible, uninterrupted, safe, free and quality education at risk.
“Your Excellency, our schools were closed down abruptly in March 2020 due to the increasing transmission of COVID-19, forcing us to be at home, and living with the uncertainty of when schools will
resume,” the children in the letter obtained by The ICIR.
The children said they appreciated some innovations to bridge the learning gaps through radio and TV programs and in some cases, online learning platforms, but lamented not all children have access to these facilities.
“We worry that many of us living in rural areas and those living in low-income households will be left behind. We also fear that once the schools reopen, there will be a lot of pressure on both students and teachers to catch up with lost time to complete the 2020/21 school curriculum,” they said.
“There is also the possibility that many children will not go back to school (especially the girls) as their families may decide to marry them off as a way of dealing with the uncertainties.”
On insecurity, they called the attention of the president to incessant attacks on children across the country, noting that their right to safety and protection has been at higher risk.
“Children are under attack by the increasing number of sexual abuse, molestation and violence, including rape, early child and forced marriage, child labor and trafficking, making us feel more unsafe, unprotected and experiencing different forms of trauma,” the children ambassadors said.
They added that children in Nigeria fear that the current threats on their safety and protection would reduce the gains achieved towards the implementation and domestication of the Child Rights Act over the years.
On the implementation of the Child Rights Act 2003, they appealed for the establishment of at least one specialized children’s court and dedicated law enforcement units within the Nigerian Police, Security and Defense forces, agencies and services in each of the six geo-political zones of the country to fast-track the full implementation of the Act.
They also requested the government to design a child-led, comprehensive, multi-sectoral, national development agenda and plan for children.
“The government, at all levels, should prioritize the implementation and domestication of the Child Rights Act 2003. This will provide children in Nigeria with the necessary legal policy framework for seeking justice when our rights are denied or abused.”
While concluding their letter, Purity and Maryam said the children, represent the future, and deserve an opportunity to realize and release their full potentials.
“Your Excellency, the Children of Nigeria, will continue to look up to you and your administration for our growth and the development of our dear country at large.”
Abeeb Alawiye formerly works with The ICIR as a Reporter/Social Media officer. Now work as a Senior Journalist with BBC News Yoruba. You can shoot him an email via Abeeb.email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @habsonfloww