Launch Of Situation Analysis And Multi-dimensional Child Poverty Reports
KEYNOTE REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE LAUNCH OF THE SITUATION ANALYSIS OF CHILDREN IN NIGERIA EVENT ON THE 27TH OF MAY, 2022
Before I begin, I think we should all rise (except the children) to give the children a round of applause on this very special day. Thank you very much, happy children’s day!
The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and UNICEF and other collaborating CSos and development partners deserve our commendation for their hard work and resourcefulness in researching and producing these seminal reports. It is impossible to conceive and implement effective policies without a well-rounded view of the challenges on the ground. Particularly in a country as complex and nuanced as Nigeria.
It is clear from the Situation Analysis and the Multi-dimensional Child Poverty Reports that we still have vast amounts of ground to cover, and the urgency with which we need to do so is evident to us all.
Every child we lose to preventable causes diminishes us greatly. Every child that fails to live up to their potential because they did not have access to basic education and the tools needed to rise to the stature of their dreams, indicts every one of us and takes away from the sum of who we are as a people. We understand the cost of failure on a very visceral level and this is what has driven our commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the decade and to safeguard the future of every Nigerian child.
We can speak quite eloquently about the federal government’s National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy and its wide-ranging implications for creating decent livelihoods for millions. About the At-Risk Children’s Program, ARC-P, it combines formal education, skills and health as a multi-faceted community intervention led by the States and coordinated by the Federal Government.
We can speak about the urgency with which Nigeria’s SDG Implementation Plan (2020-2030) is being executed and the improvements we have made, in spite of the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in creating social safeguards for the family through the delivery of basic services, especially in water and sanitation. There are also the positive improvements we have witnessed in the provision of Universal Health Coverage and the increase in the attendance and care of women at birth.
We can also speak with some pride about this administration’s substantial progress in raising the number of States that have now enacted the Child’s Right Law from 23 to 30 in just two years.
We can speak about how our community-based nutrition screening of children has enhanced support for quality services, thereby reaching thousands of children, and how simultaneous comprehensive public policies are making vast improvements in nutrition and safeguarding education. Policies like the North East Nigeria Maternal Nutrition, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Guidelines, including protocols, indicators and evaluation strategies; the National Policy on Safety, Security and violence-free schools, the guidelines which have been developed by the Federal Ministry of Education, and of course our continued engagement of the media and civil society in sensitizing the public on critical needs and conducting campaigns aimed at behavioural change as a prerequisite for improvement across all indices.
But as long as we still have an estimated huge number of out-of-school children, many more with severe and acute malnutrition, forced into early marriages, recruited into armed conflict, denied access to safe drinking water and hygiene, and subjected to sexual and gender-based violence, exploited, deprived of access to health and other rights, as long as we still have even just one child in deprivation and at risk, our work is certainly not done yet.
And this is the sense of urgency with which we receive the Situation Analysis of Children in Nigeria and the Multi-dimensional Child Poverty Reports. One that frankly challenges and calls to action every stakeholder, from the Federal Government to the States and local governments, from the media and civil society to development partners, caregivers and parents.
The current number of children under the age of 5 stands at nearly 31 million, with an additional 5 million being added each year. As Nigeria’s population continues to surge, especially in regions where early marriage is prevalent, we find ourselves caught in a vicious cycle, where population growth outstrips economic growth and deepens poverty.
The socio-cultural and socio-economic factors that allow for these continued impediments to the well-being of our children are well within our control and we must rise up to our duties and responsibilities as governments and citizens to roll them back and roll them back speedily.
Statistics show that 60% per cent of out-of-school children in Nigeria are girls. The lack of access to education further inhibits their ability to access quality healthcare, gain information about sexual and reproductive health and rights, make informed decisions or have stable family relationships.
This lack of education and agency for the girl-child ultimately shapes the outcome of her adult life and translates into her own family, children and community, perpetuating a vicious cycle, sowing of the wind that portends looming whirlwinds that will eventually sweep us all if we do not rise up to challenge it.
Of course, there are political decisions that must, and that are being taken, by the Federal, State and Local Governments across the country to reverse this, particularly in the North-East and North-West, which are most hit by these incidences. But all of these must be complemented by moral and cultural changes, a rethinking of the value systems that subordinate the education and general well-being of children, particularly the girl-child, to diverging adult interests, and changes that are more effectively carried out in the community and family level.
The Federal Government will continue to lead the charge and our commitment and work in this regard will be all the more data-driven, helped along in no small way, by the reports being presented today.
There is a dire need to increase children-focused interventions, especially where challenges of insecurity persist, and we need every hand on deck.
For many of these children, formal education remains an illusion. Skills are virtually non-existent, many face exposure to physical and sexual abuse, exploitation, inhuman conditions, and vulnerability to criminal networks, with deteriorating security situations leading to food shortages, were children being the most vulnerable, suffer most.
Sustainable solutions to these challenges require an interplay between poverty reduction, the digital economy, health and employment, and a multi-stakeholder approach to tackling them. There are situations regarding the well-being of our children that can only be effectively dealt with at the level of caregiving and parenting, some at the level of the community, and this is where we as Africans have been historically known to excel.
And so our communities everywhere must rise up to the challenge because the survival of our children, our future and our continued existence as a people, depends on it. Again let me commend the Honorable Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, the Permanent Secretary and all the collaborating MDAs, CSOs, and development partners for their commitment and effective coordination in delivering a comprehensive analysis of the state of the Nigerian child.
I believe that we can in this decade permanently end child poverty and deprivation in Nigeria. The key task is to converge the political, religious and cultural wills to the resolution of this existential challenge.
We must not rest until the future of every child in Nigeria is guaranteed.
Happy Children’s Day once again!
Thank you for your kind attention.