23 million married as children in Nigeria —UNICEF
I was an illiterate when I got married —Bauchi gov’s wife
It has been said that Nigeria has the second largest number of child-brides in the world, with 23 million girls and women married as children, a development said to often end their education.
This is just as the wife of the Bauchi State governor, Hajia Aisha Bala-Muhammed, disclosed that she had no formal education when she married her husband.
Also, Nigerian children were said to experience a wide range of abuses and harmful practices, as three out of five children have suffered one or more forms of violence before reaching 18, with over 70 per cent experiencing multiple incidences of violence.
The disclosure was made by the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, Bhanu Pathak, while speaking at the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Child Rights Convention (CRC) by the United Nations held at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Bauchi, on Saturday.
He pointed out that in the 30 years since its adoption, the CRC had helped to transform the lives of children worldwide, as it established that children were not the property of adults, but people with rights of their own.
He also urged governments to change laws and policies to protect children and make more investments in children.
Pathak added that although the UN had set a goal that every human being on the planet would have a legal identity by 2030, many children in Nigeria were yet to have their births registered.
Speaking further, the UNICEF chief said since 2009, some states in the North-East region had been troubled by violent conflicts stemming from clashes between non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and the Nigerian Military.
He added that with the massive destruction of towns and villages and ongoing violent attacks by NSAGs, the region had experienced increased population displacement, loss of livelihood, food insecurity and increased morbidly and mortality rates, because of malnutrition, inadequate health services and poor sanitation, “especially in the most affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe where children are at the receiving end of the atrocities.”
Pathak further lamented that too many Nigerianchildren and young people were being left behind, especially when it came to education, adding that statistics had it that Nigeria had the world›s highest number of out-of-school children, as more than 10.5 million Nigerian children were not in school.
While addressing the youths, Mrs Bala-Mohammed, who spoke on the importance of education, especially of the girl-child, opined that education could be used to combat crimes and criminality in the society, expressing regret that the girl-child had been relegated to the background.
“I was 16 years old and a stark illiterate when I married my husband. We were 100 girls in our family; none went to school. I only started school after my third child. I never went to primary school in my parents’ house. This is because our parents never believed in educating the girl-child. I struggled to go school, but they refused.
“I picked the challenge to be educated from my brothers and after I had my third child, I insisted my husband got me a home teacher. That was how I started and I later went to secondary school. Today, I am a graduate of Public Administration from the University of Abuja,” she said.
She added that the neglect of the girl-child, in terms of education, had rendered her useless, with no hope for a better tomorrow.
“We have to ensure that we educate the girl-child so that she will become a good mother in future,” she said.
In his remark, President of the Nigeria Youth Parliament, Mubarak Mijinyawa, gave the assurance that the youth were ready to contribute positively to the development of the country, saying that all they needed was encouragement and space to display their God-given talents.