I switched on the TV in my hotel room yesterday after a long but interesting day at the Reflection and Action training being organised by ActionAid Nigeria’s Impact and Shared Learning (IASL) unit and on the news was the story of children slain in Yobe. My heart bled…some even went further to post pictures on Facebook…children lying on the ground covered in blood…
According to the media, another 29 children were slained in the dead of the night as they slept in their school dormitory. I began to wonder ...are we going to turn the blind eye again and allow innocent, harmless leaders of tomorrow to be cut short in their prime?
Right now I am taking the government out of the "we" equation and demanding accountability from organisations that programme on the rights of children; I am questioning human right activists, I am demanding intervention from the UN and I am questioning myself and others working to achieve the Rights of the Child.
Nigeria signed the International Declaration on the Right of the Child in the year 1999 and ratified it in the year 2000. The document is a universal set of standards for children's survival, development, protection and their participation; recognising children as human beings and subjects of rights. Nigeria's Child’s Rights Act states in one article that no Nigerian child should be subjected to abuse, inhuman attack on their honour, but not only has the State failed in their duty to provide protection for these children, they have made them vulnerable to attacks. Even more sad is that such incidences go by with little acknowledgement and in few days are completely forgotten by the duty bearers and most everyone else.
It is very obvious why children in this part of the world have remained voiceless and invisible from time immemorial, worse than even women … they are made invisible and silenced by tradition and made susceptible to all kinds of abuse including rape, battering, early marriage, mutilation, trafficking and are almost always at the receiving end of all transferred aggression at home and everywhere else.
If this continues to happen and we turn a blind eye, then what is the core of our programming on child protection and rights? Why do we talk about child participation when they do not even have the right to their own lives, no protection what so ever…
Where are the ombudsmen on the implementation of the instrument of rights of children, the committee on the right of the child, child right agencies like ActionAid and the UN…we need help now!
Wrtitten By: Toyin Expeneidua