By Talatu Maiwada
Abuja – The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development on Tuesday in Abuja, advocated full implementation of the Child’s Rights Act 2003 by all states of the Federation.
Sen.Aisha Alhassan, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development said this in Abuja at a Two-day National Conference on the rights and welfare of the child.
Alhassan said the gathering was aimed at enhancing understanding on the provisions of the Child’s Rights Act and facilitating its passage by the states.
She was represented at the occasion by Mrs Jummai Mohammed, Director Child Development in the Ministry.
The minister said the conference was organised to strategise for the wellbeing of the Nigerian child and increase awareness on the rights of the child, especially the girl-child.
Alhassan noted that due to the federal system of government and the nature of the country’s constitution, every state was expected to pass similar laws within its territorial jurisdiction.
She, however, said the adoption of the Act by states would ensure that children at all levels, particularly those at the grassroots, enjoy their rights to survival, development, protection and participation.
Alhassan further expressed her concern about certain portion of the Act which she said had been uttered by some states.
“We are aware of and appreciate the concerns and apprehension about certain portions of the Act by some states during the advocacy visits by the Honourable Minister.
“It is for this reason that we have strived to encourage each state to make such amendments as are necessary to accommodate their peculiarities without losing the spirit and essence of the law.
“The conference would however examine the areas of contention in the Act such as child marriage, female Genital mutilation, and street children for amicable and mutual resolution,’’ she said.
Alhassan said children as well as the futureleaders of the country.
The minister commended the international community for clearly demonstrating and increasing awareness, acceptance and importance of children, to ensure their survival and wellbeing.
She said in recognizing the role of children in national development, the government of Nigeria endorsed the UN Convention on the rights of the child, Africa Charter on the rights and welfare of the child among others.
She also said Nigeria was morally and legally bound to implement the provisions of the treaties.
“The convention in its article four stipulates that “States shall undertake all appropriate, legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of rights recognised in the convention.
“Nigeria enacted the Child’s Rights Act on July 31, 2003, which states the rights and responsibilities of a child in Nigeria and provides for a system of justice administration, care and supervision.
“It specifies the duties and obligations of government, organisations, parents and other authorities involved in child’s rights promotion and protection.
“The Act also enables children with disabilities to enjoy their rights fully as it provides special measures for their care and protection’’.
Alhassan also commended the contributions of different arms of government, NGOs and private individuals, adding that they all had critical role to play in the discharge of international obligations. (NAN)