Headline National News Nigeria

Minister appeals for state children parliament elections

Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen has urged state governments that have not yet conducted Children’s Parliament elections to do so.

Dame Tallen said the elections would help in promoting the rights and protection of children against violence and harmful practices.

She made the call in Abuja during the swearing in of the newly-elected principal officers of the 7th National Children’s Parliament.

The Minister called the children’s Parliament a “platform for promoting child rights”, saying it facilitates their participation in all matters affecting them, in accordance with the child rights Act and the United Nations Convention On the Rights of the Child.

“I wish to use this platform once again to passionately appeal to the remaining States to conduct election of their State Children’s Parliament,” she urged.

“(Also) to send their representatives to join the 7th National Children’s Parliament as we do not wish to leave any State behind.”

The Director, Advocacy and Campaign, Save the Children International, Nigeria, Amanuel Mamo urged government to “double investment” in children’s rights and prioritise poor implementation of child-sensitive policies and strategies nationwide.

“Children are experiencing several challenges, including sexual abuse, molestation, violence including rape and other challenges in the country,” Mr Mamo noted.

“We would like to urge the national children’s parliament to be part of the discussion regarding the next generation that we would like to see in this country” he demanded.

Similarly, UNICEF’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, represented by Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, Godwin Chinedu-Odo, appealed to the newly-inaugurated parliament to review the content of the seven-point agenda of commitment made by the Nigerian government to Nigerian children and demand “prompt implementation”.

“Look at which aspect has been implemented and then demand implementation. That is how you can now say ably representing all the children in Nigeria as their representative in the children’s parliament,” he said.

In her inaugural speech, the newly-elected Speaker of the 7th National Children’s Parliament, 13-year-old Umeh Progress, from Akwa Ibom state, said a lot still needed to be done to ensure the survival, security and equality of the Nigerian child.

“We must ensure that Female Genital Mutilation, Child Trafficking and labour, sexual exploitation and harassment of children and other harmful practices that impact the lives of the Nigerian children become an issue of the past,” Ms Progress said.

“We must go beyond just domestication, but ensure each and every state begins to implement the Child Rights Law,” she insisted, saying: “Our administration will create a platform that, with the support of key stakeholders, allow children to express their concerns about their development, survival and participation.”

Ten members of the 7th National Children’s Parliament were elected as principal officers, including, Sulaiman Zannah from Borno state as Deputy Speaker.

Reporting by Azizatu Sani; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino and Tony Okerafor