Nigeria with over 210 million people is the most populous country in Africa and ranks 7th with the third largest youth population in the World subsequently half of it’s population are under the age of 18 years thereby the children rights realization is absolutely vital in Nigeria. Women nurture the seeds which are the future generations; the seeds of the future is planted with a dream, fertilized with hope, watered with diligence, nourished by faith, dressed with enthusiasm, maintained by courage and that is only possible with the Child Rights Acts and implementations.
Who is a child? The child is define as anybody who is 12 years or below but currently in Nigeria a draft decree put into law has set 18 years or below as the age of the child in Nigeria; by this decree it is obligatory by law for parents, community and the society to provide the children under their watch proper education, to protect them from all types of abuse and exploitation which includes early marriage, child labor or employment, any negative and dangerous influence that infringe on their rights. The major religions of both Islam and Christianity preaches against all forms of irresponsibility towards the child, reasons to why it is stated that the first teacher of the child are the parents and that any parents that neglects their responsibility towards the child will be judged by the creator in the hereafter; thus the child must be under the absolute guard and guide of whomever it is obligated to be responsible for his or her welfare and well-being.
The vision of a people in any country of the world determines their choices, their attitudes, their values and that ultimately determines their destiny in life; Human Rights is the right for everyone to protect, to stand up for someone’s rights, and never to remain silent for what matters to the life of another human being because humanity matters. Speak up in defense of the rights of the Nigerian child, against underage marriages, against gender based violence and age discrimination. Stand up and protect the rights of the children by exposing and unmasking the culprits to bring them out of obscurity for the world to see, hence giving the victims their dignity and right of place in the society. Therefore, every human being must respect and honor other human beings by the simple fact that all are equal before God and before man, created equally as human and no one absolutely none is greater than another human being. The perfect perspective to this assertion is seen during the Muslim Holy Pilgrimage, where all Pilgrims must be attired in white irrespective of social, cultural and economic status of any one individual; the king and the servant are seen standing as the same human being in worship before the Creator. The Holy Books of both dominant religion in Nigeria preaches against any form of discrimination and if properly read the obligatory rights of every person is clearly spelled out; subsequently the fundamental human rights that are legally provided and protected by law which are basic, elementary, mandatory and compulsory entitlements of every person within a given community. The fundamental human rights as contained in the Nigerian constitution are the right to life, the right to dignity of human person, the right to personal liberty, the right to fair hearing, the right to private and family life, the right to freedom of thoughts, conscience and religion, the right to freedom of expression, and the press, the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to freedom of movement, the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria. The moment the fundamental human right of any one person is violated as a human being such a person becomes worthless such as in cases of Child Abuse and exploitations.
Child Abuse And Exploitation
Physical abuse in form of punishment to inflict pain has become excessive with many kids marred for life by deformities and psychological stamp of fear and anxiety and depression and vulnerability.
Poverty are the primary causes of Child Abuse.
Child labor is an instrument of exploitation for meager remuneration working long hours under inhumane and hazardous environment where children are engaged in menial labor such as hawking on risky and dangerous high ways, as assistant to beggars traveling all across communities and states in Nigeria sleeping in market stalls garages and under the bridges in Lagos state Nigeria just to make a living and to live through alms. The market places is another environment where children are seen dragging shopping bags and baskets from shoppers as carriers boys popularly called “mai doko” for a token fee after dispatching such items into cars at times most often than not, the “loads” children are made to carry are so heavy that a child not older than 7years of age is bald headed because the heavy loads has with time paved a path in the middle of their heads; wearing torn out clothes with no shoes hungry dirty and dejected no place to call home no families to care and cater for their needs thus tagged “Almajirai” while in the real sense of the word an “ALMAJIR” is a child given to an Islamic scholar to educate and stays under the custody of the scholar. Thereby children often seen loitering on the streets, market places and garages begging are sent out by their parents who can not afford to take parental responsibilities over their needs, hence seen all over in all manners to source for food and income in order to feed the whole family not caring about the danger many is such kids are daily exposed to such as kidnapping ritual killings and sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is another dangerous monster that is aggressively spreading out it’s tentacles to destroy the innocent child without parental care and control in Nigeria; the most trusted family member or leader that is respected by the family are generally found out to be responsible for raping or sexually abusing the child due to the issue of trusting such people with the custody of such kids believing that their social status and family relationships is a strong bond to such sexual abuse of the child consequently the victim of sexual abuse by a trusted family member the incident is hidden from the authorities and leaders and elders believing that exposure can ruin the good reputation and relationships of such a person and for the innocent child it is believed that it is an unwanted social stamps that can label the abused child for life while forgetting that the sexually abused child if not counsel by a therapist will be a working corpse because such an experience early in life will affect the child sexual relationship and love life in the future negatively. Children are all over restaurants working as households by washing dishes sweeping and collecting water from away distances with large bucket while their age mates from good homes are dressed up going to school and if asked such children would love to be in schools but who is caring enough to take them into their homes shelters feed clothes and take responsibility for their education? None, because many families would rather take them in to work as slaves to care for their own biological kids and households.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)s And The Rights Of The Nigerian Child
The progress for every child is the responsibility of all and everyone has a role to play in advancing and achieving the SDGs for all by holding together the wheel of progress which is beautifully carved out to cover all the necessities of the child and child rights.
Poverty and deprivation in any family affects the child first, which denies children their fundamental rights to nutrition due to lack of healthy and adequate meals daily; which can affect the education of the child consequently dropping out of school to live a life without education in order to help compliment the income of the family by engaging in child labor. Children deserve a life where they can enjoy their childhood as children, not growing into adults who were denied the time to play as children.
It is vital for the welfare of the child not to be excluded from benefiting from land that is of utmost importance to food production and food sustainability; in order to achieve food security, promote sustainable agriculture to end hunger. Children faced with disaster and diseases can only survive and grow; the over a decade insurgency in the northeast, insecurity, kidnapping in northern Nigeria the unrest and agitation in southern parts of Nigeria are all factors depriving the Nigerian child of good nutrition for healthy development and survival.
Good Health And Well-being
The most critical for the child is to end preventable deaths from births, to combat diseases such as malaria and HIV, to reduce non-communicable diseases, and a universal health coverage for every child, reduce deaths and injuries from accident, in northern Nigeria a lot of underage children are recklessly hawking on highways to make available income for the family feeding and essentials of life. The devastation brought in by the insurgency has created fears and insecurity in the minds of many, paralyzing the ability of most to move around confidently, the goal will greatly aids to support orphaned children with mental health issues, developmental delays due to fear, and disabilities caused by several bomb blast, the shootings of AK-47, Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPGs) within the north-east communities in Nigeria.
Every child deserves access to free and quality education and relevant skills for sustainable development; the out of school children in Nigeria is an eyesore even though primary education is free and compulsory officially but it involves a lot of expense to send a child to school. The north east of Nigeria out of school children is heartbreaking with many children orphan by the over a decade insurgency roaming and roving the streets at the mercy of the society a pitiable sight to see begging to survive daily sleeping outdoors with only the Harmattan hazy cool dust to wrap around as blankets. Children as young as 4 years of age who are orphaned by no sin or crime of theirs, aimlessly and innocently walk the dangerous streets with only the heavenly Angels as the shield, facing and escaping dangers of the day by the whiskers but still picking up their tired feet to walk the same streets again and again in search of a kind heart for a meal a warm clothing or even a shelter. Sitting dejectedly after fruitless search for food falling prey to the heartless. The northern Nigeria educational backwardness is a case study for reviewing and restructuring which is caused by factors such as economic barriers, sociocultural norms and practices that discourages attendance in formal education for especially the girl child. The closure of schools due to insurgency aggravated the state of emergency in northeast educational systems because the schools were the first victims of attacks and the pupils kidnapped with pupils the Chibok Girls in Borno state Nigeria became the first victims of such a terrifyingly actionable move to close all schools and keep the children safe under the bed of their parents, kidnapping of school age children is by the day sending rippling fears down the very spine of parents and caregivers that is successfully crippling all their strong wills to keep their kids in schools. Northern Nigeria is breeding and breathing life into a generation of illiterates; the world must come to the rescue of the northern Nigerian child, a life without security no education no assess to health facility no hope and no future is a ticking time bomb ready to explode and no one absolutely no one will be spared because the world is a global village. The world must not neglect any part of the world because the several generation of humans are coming up with out the simple necessities of life, no part of the world can live in isolation but if the world decides to look away at such an ugly scenario then a time will come that the same world will be forced to look back in regret for not doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. The child is the future and the great future the world is seeking is with the child of today. There is the urgent need to create an enabling environment for education, improving the quality of education, increasing demand for education and humanitarian assistance by ensuring safe and protective school environments. An urgent actions by all stakeholders involved in providing the minimum and adequate funds for that basic level of education must be provided. A future without education for the child is no future at all. The causes of the child educational hindrances in southern parts of Nigeria are many poverty, divorce, lack of good teachers and uncontrollable corruption.
End discrimination, violence and harmful practices for every child irrespective of gender; every child irrespective of gender deserves the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. The female child faced discriminations right from birth because in Nigeria the male child is most favored, the same happens in work places where her gender is an instruments for negotiations, and the girl child faces a lot of gender based risks and violence in schools, market places, on the go, anywhere and every where; seen and perceive as a lesser human being. The practice of Child marriage in most parts of the uneducated northern Nigeria has traditional, customary, cultural and religious backings with children as young as 8 years of age betrothed or married off to powerful or rich suitors as against the child rights act; the girl child must be protected from all forms of abuse and must be allowed to grow before bringing another life into the world as a child bride and mother.
Clean Water And Sanitation
Access to households water supply will prevent the child from walking long distances in search of water and hence missing out in school; thereby giving the child more time and energy for quality education. The provision of contaminated water and poor sanitation caused by over population, the rural-urban drifts in search of improved livelihood are the leading causes of inadequate water supply and environmental pollution which puts a lot of children at risk of preventable diseases.
Affordable And Clean Energy
The children are seen all around picking out sticks woods and polythene used bag for their parents used for the cooking o every meals while the child in the villages walks barefooted for several miles all the way in bushes and farms in search of firewood for cooking. Hence keeping the child away from school in order to provide fuels for cooking facing a lot of risk in the bushes from animals and man with the inherent danger of kidnapping and sexual abuse all over the society thus making the child vulnerable to attack and assault.
Decent Work And Economic Growth
The goal will assist the child with the proper education and training helps also to eradicate forced labor; child soldiers as seen in the northeast where vulnerable children are forced into insurgency through drugs and swearing an oaths to fight a war they know nothing about. Help to eradicate trafficking of children into modern slavery of doing menial jobs and engaging in prostitutions for their masters, also to end child labor completely.
Industry, Innovation And Infrastructure
The child must also benefits without bias from because the world today is technologically driven, and the growing population of the Nigerian children must not be left behind from the modern digital world. Children must be protected from watching pictures and videos that are not legally acceptable for their young ages such as online pornography, crimes and violence. Cyber security and safety for children is absolutely important because children fall prey to hackers and scammers online often the first victim in the family to divulge sensitive information to strangers online who are on a mission for cyber phishing and thereby bullying such kids into submission; kids security must be protected online and offline.
All forms of inequalities against the child must be curtailed by providing the enabling environment for gender equality; for no reason must any Nigerian child be cut out of essential care and services on the bases of gender, disability, ethnicity or state of origin which most often than not happens during the allocation of resources; Nigerian Federal Character Policy is to strengthen and ensure adequate representation among the different sections of the country for peace and progress.
Sustainable Cities And Communities
children faced a lot of risk not only in the cities but in every community which is worsen in the northeast due to the displacement of rural communities into towns and cities from their ancestral homes due to attacks; there is a need for safe and child friendly public transport and provision of electricity and street lighting. A good housing and peaceful home must be provided for the children for a conducive environment to thrive and strive as happy children.
Responsible Consumption And Production
Climate friendly consumption behaviors must begin with the children by re-directing their consumption patterns to avoid plastics and to use better alternatives to the plastic, such as degradable materials that are used for child friendly tools and toys which create less toxic waste, thus the use of recycled products as being much more preferable in order not to affect the child by its negative environmental impacts of global production and consumption patterns.
The children must be guaranteed a safe and clean environment to live; the children must be at the heart of a global world free of climate crisis which has started in Nigeria with the kids going around to pick out the plastic for metals and plastic for recycling all at a token fee but the health of the kids must be protected from any environmental harm and hygiene related diseases. Thereby, solving issues that can affect any child such as floods, droughts and disaster which can also increase child labor and abuse.
Life Below Water
The reduction in pollution and control of over fishing can greatly improves on the lives of the children living in the oil producing states of the Southern Regions and the drought that is affecting fishing in the Lake Chad Regions of Northern Nigeria.
Life On Land
The sustainable use of ecosystems will benefit all children living in areas affected by damaged ecosystems due to landmines caused by insurgency in the northeast, drought in all of northern Nigeria and oil spillage in southern regions of Nigeria; food insecurity caused by the attacks and killings of farmers from their farms by herders and terrorists, land degradation and deforestation caused by the activities of man on land. The goal must involve the Nigerian children to protect, restore, combat desertification and halt biodiversity loss for a world that is safe to survive, grow and thrive as a human being.
Peace, Justice And Strong Institutions
The goal will ensure every child knows their rights through the birth registration and certificate for access to education, healthcare, and protection from child early and forced marriages. Ending violence against children must make an all inclusive provision for the gender sensitive child protection.
Partnership For The Goals
Government policy makers and stakeholders must understand the impacts of all 17 SDGs on the lives of the Nigerian children by a proper and strong implementation in order to achieve all the goals not only for the rights of the child but for the human rights of every single Nigerian because human rights for all human beings begins with the child rights for a beautiful and bright future for generations yet unborn! Happy Human Right Day!!!