Plans are afoot by the government to shift policy on children from “welfare” to “rights issues.”
President Goodluck Jonathan made the disclosure on Thursday in Abuja at the special sitting of the National Children’s Parliament (NCP) as part of events for the 2011 Presidential inauguration ceremony.
Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark Children’s Day on Friday.
Jonathan said the shift in policy is to ensure the development of Nigerian children and their preparation for a future responsive leadership roles.
Jonathan, represented by Women Affairs and Social Development Minister, Josephine Anenih, noted that children are a veritable resource base of the nation who are referred to as the leaders of tomorrow.
“The administration is leaving no stone unturned towards providing an enabling environment to ensure the maximum and holistic development of the Nigerian child through well articulated policies, programmes and projects,” Jonathan said.
He described the NCP as the next most important institution of promoting national unity after the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and Unity Schools, especially because of the mix of its members and national spread.
“From the presentation of members of the NCP today, I am assured that Nigeria has a great future.
“All we need do now is ensure that the rights of our children to protection and participation are guaranteed, as well as provide the right atmosphere of peace and security for them to grow into dynamic and focused leaders of tomorrow,” he added.
The day was marked with fun fair across the country with series of social and educational activities held across the country.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, in recognition of the day commended the National Assembly for passing the National Health Bill into law while calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to quickly assent to the Bill for immediate implementation across the country.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Suomi Sakai added: “The National Health Bill is the best gift to Nigerian children as they celebrate their day.”
“The health status of children and women in Nigeria remains poor but we believe that with careful implementation of the National Health Act, along with sufficient funding for and close monitoring of the National Strategic Health Strategic Development Plan, Nigeria will take firm steps to reverse this trend.
“We expect the National Health Act to translate into the release of much needed funding from national revenues for the health of children and women. Its focus on an essential minimum package of care to tackle the health problems which cause the highest number of death and illness in children and women is highly commendable,” he said.
Sakai pointed out that scaling up the implementation of an essential package of proven, cost-effective and high-impact interventions in all primary health centres will bring Nigeria closer to attaining the health related MDGs.
She said in doing so, “we encourage the government and its partners to leave no child behind, as this momentum is really about securing quality primary health care with equity for every woman and every child.”
May 27 is Children’s Day in Nigeria. It was created in 1964, inspired by the United Nations children’s efforts, and it’s a school holiday for children in Nigeria.
Nigeria holds many challenges for children. According to the CIA Fact Book, 42 percent of Nigeria’s more than 138 million residents are children. Seventy percent of them live below the poverty line, despite Nigeria being one of the world’s leading oil producers. Nigeria also has a very high infant mortality rate–93.93 per 1000 births. (This compares to 6.3/1000 in the United States.)
There was celebration across the country to mark the occasion.
In Lagos State, thousands of children defied the heavy rain to celebrate this year’s Children’s Day at the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
The children undertook the march past and other activities in the rain while Governor Babatunde Fashola who took the salute charged them to work hard in their studies so that they could be great in the future.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Omolara Erogbogbo, also charged the children to be great ambassadors of their families, schools, the state and the nation.
She called on parents to ensure they monitor their wards’ performance in school.
Kazeem Ugbodaga PM News
PHOTONEWS: Nigerian Children Day In Lagos
Nigeria’s Children Day celebration took place at Police College Ikeja in Lagos Nigeria,
Pix stream: SR. News: PM News, Punch