SPEECH OF THE HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER, KADUNA STATE MINISTRY OF WOMEN AFFAIRS AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AT THE FOUR DAY MEETING TO DEVELOP THE KADUNA STATE PRIORITY ACTION DOCUMENT ON ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN
3rd – 6th JULY, 2017 – TEEJAY HOTEL, ZARIA
First, I would like to say a very warm welcome to all participants to this noble event. This is an important event in the history of our living because history will remember us on its right side for being a part of this milestone discussion.
The situation of our children today leaves more to be desired. An avenue such as this will certainly not be enough to mention the gory situation of our children today. Our children are continually being subjected to the most despicable levels of treatment by all of us. From sexual molestation through rape and homosexuality to drug abuse, physical and emotional violence to outright neglect, daily, we have witnessed a rapid drift and degradation in the moral upbringing of our children, their level of vulnerability remains alarming and calls for urgent intervention.
Since inception of this administration, His Excellency the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufa’i has left no one in doubt on this government’s concerns on this appalling trend. The government has made some noteworthy efforts to intervene and arrest this negative trend. Provision of free education for Kaduna State children up to junior secondary school level and for girls up to senior secondary level is one, another area of government intervention is the provision of free meals in our primary schools in order to provide for the nutritional needs of our children. Efforts have also been put in place to prevent the spread of destitute children in the state through the government’s on-going enforcement of the law prohibiting street begging and hawking. This has yielded positive results in helping to reintegrate and rehabilitate street wandering children within Kaduna State who are continually exposed to societal violence and other ills too numerous to mention. Another lofty achievement awaiting celebration is the near passage of the Child Rights Law by the Kaduna State House of Assembly. Debate on this law is at its conclusive level and in a short time, will be graced by His Excellency’s assent. Today, we are gathered here to discuss yet another onerous cause, still in a bid to uplift the lives of our children. Developing the Kaduna State Priority Action on Ending Violence Against Children will be the icing on our historic cake, the impact of which will resonate in times long after us.
Nigeria is the first country in West Africa to undertake a national survey on violence against children. The Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey (VACS) is a continuation of the successful partnership between United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF), the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEFPAR) and Together for Girls Initiative to assist countries worldwide in conducting national surveys on violence against children. The Nigeria 2014 VACS follows and builds on the methodology of the surveys completed in Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malawi.
National Population Commission (NPC) of Nigeria authored the Nigeria VACS report. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF provided technical support to NPC throughout the development and implementation of the survey.
The Nigeria VACS was commissioned between May and July 2014. The survey consisted of a cross-sectional household survey of females and males aged 13 to 24, designed to produce national-level estimates of experiences of violence.
In response to these findings, the Office of the President launched the Presidential Year of Action to End Violence Against Children on 15th September 2015, elevating ending violence against children to an issue of national importance and demonstrating the commitment of Nigeria. At this event, national Priority Actions were launched that not only set out the actions to be taken by each Ministry and Agency, but also NGOs, religious groups and the media, to more effectively prevent and respond to violence against children, recognizing that ending violence against children must be a collective effort of all Nigerians.
The Priority Actions were developed over the course of one year by the Technical Working Group on Violence Against Children (TWG), with support from UNICEF and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, through CDC and USAID, to respond directly to the findings of the VACS. The Technical Working Group was convened and chaired by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and included government representatives from key MDAs – Education, Health, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Social Welfare, Justice, Information, National Orientation Agency, National Human Rights Commission, National Bureau of Statistics, National Population Commission, National Emergency Management Agency, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, National Prisons Service, Police, Attorney General and Judiciary. The Technical Working Group also comprised of civil society, including legal aid providers, NGOs and religious groups. In addition, consultations were undertaken with Ministries and NGOs from 19 States and religious leaders representing 24 groups in Nigeria. This action led to Nigeria being recognized among the five fact finding countries in the world.
The Technical Working Group recognized that significant steps had already been taken by many sectors and in many States in Nigeria to strengthen prevention and response mechanisms, but that those efforts needed to be enhanced and scaled up throughout Nigeria; in every State, Local Government Area, Ward and community.
To this end, it became a clarion call for Nigerian States, especially the serious ones to create a forum and develop state based priority actions on ending violence against children. I’m glad to mention that the outcome of your deliberations here will make Kaduna State the sixth Nigerian state to develop this noble document and all of you here shall be remembered as heroes of our time who have etched their names on the sands of this historic effort of alleviating the sufferings of our children.
I won’t conclude without specially commending the tireless efforts of our development partners UNICEF particularly Mr. Utpal Moitra, Mrs Margaret Duniya, Mallam Rabiu musa, Mrs. Joyce Eli and also, Mallam Bashir Abubakar from STEER who have stood through our thicks and thins to ensure our efforts in making children safe remain on course. I want to also appreciate the rousing response of all sister MDAs in Kaduna State, our Civil Society Comrades, the media and all other stakeholders who have answered our call to become parts of this noble event. I wish us all a most memorable and successful deliberation.
Thank you and God bless.
Hafsat Mohammed Baba (Mrs)
Commissioner, Women Affairs and Social Development
Kaduna State of Nigeria