Issue of child destitution, keg of gunpowder waiting to explode ― Gbajabiamila
• says 11 states yet to enact Child Rights Act, 17 years after
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila on Tuesday stressed the urgent need to address the issue of child destitution, which he noted is like a keg of gun powder waiting to explode.
Hon. Gbajabiamila gave the charge in Abuja while delivering the keynote address remarks during the public hearing on the motion titled: ‘Need to eradicate child destitution and remove beggars from Nigerian streets through the provision of Standardised education system and improved livelihood.’
The Speaker said the 13.2 million Nigerian children who are out of school, as canvassed by UBEC that about 13.2 million Nigerian children, is no doubt worrisome and presents a clear picture of the 21st and 22nd century Nigeria where a large part of the population or labour force may not be employable.
He said the public hearing seeks to obtain and aggregate submissions from various stakeholders, with the view to assist the Legislature in fostering ways of protecting Child rights to education and overall access to what they need to have a good life.
“In 2003 when the Childs Rights Act was accented into law by President Olusegun Obasanjo, upon its passage by the National Assembly, the Federal Legislature had domesticated Nigeria’s adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Unfortunately, 17 years later, about 11 states are yet to enact the law. The Childs Rights Act is the basis upon which the Nigerian Child ought to be protected and its implementation means a lot to the future of the Nigerian state.”
”In addition to the Childs Rights Act, the Universal Basic Education Act was also established to make provision for compulsory, free universal basic education for all children of primary and junior secondary school age in the country.
“It further seeks to provide punishment for parents for failing to comply with its provisions. These, amongst others, are legislative interventions that the National Assembly has employed to enforce the fundamental rights of every Nigerian expressed under provisions of Chapter II of our Constitution and also help tackle the issue of child destitution, especially.
”It is for the reason of ensuring improved welfare and acting in the best interest of the Nigerian child that this Motion was considered by the House in plenary and thereafter referred to the Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation. At the end of the day, it is expected that we shall all come to a consensus as to where we need to take further actions that would see us embracing those decisions that are in the best interests of the child.”
In his remarks, Chairman, House Committee, Hon. Balarabe Salame said the quicker, the country finds a solution for issues of child destitution and street begging the better for the society.
”I am gladdened by the fact that in addition to the legislative interventions taken to address these issues, this motion is coming at a time when it has become imperative to enforce all statutory provisions concerning the protection of the Nigerian Child, including poverty reduction strategies.
“l thank the mover of the motion and pledge on behalf of my colleagues to restate our commitment towards poverty alleviation in the country,” he stated.