Delay by state governments to domesticate Child Rights Act has been described as a great hindrance to the development and protection of Nigerian children.
Chief of United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF), Bauchi Field Office, Mr Bhanu Pathak, stated this while speaking to journalists and school children on the celebrations of the 2018 Children’s Day Celebrations at UNICEF office in Bauchi on Wednesday.
He said despite the enactment of the act by the federal government, some states are yet to domesticate it for implementation.
“24 states have signed on to them – We want to see all 36 states sign on and implement. Signing on is important because it shows political engagement, but the most difficult part and yet most important is the implementation, as this is really where we are reaching out to children and families,” he said.
According to him, there are many challenges facing Nigerian children which are needed to be addressed which include out-of-school children, early marriage, violence against children and other issues.
He said children need to be protected against harmful practices and violence while they should be provided with health and educational needs as part of their rights.
Mr Pathak informed that failure of the states to domesticate the Child Rights Act is affecting the implementation of many UNICEF and other agencies programmes on children because there are no laws backing them in the states.
He said that UNICEF is collaborating with governments at various levels in areas like health, education, water and sanitation and other areas.
He lamented that although progress is being made, a lot is needed to be done by government in many areas to strengthen institutions for better service delivery.
According to him, reports have indicated that, in Nigeria, there are over 10 million out-of-school children, a large percentage of which are in the North East with Bauchi state alone having over a million children that are out of school.
He also disclosed that the North East region also has the highest prevalence of early child marriage.
The UNICEF chief however said that only 40 percent of children were immunised with Penta 3 vaccine and only 25 percent of the population have access to proper hygiene.