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Nigerian children’s future, our top priority – UNICEF

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

The United Nations International Children and Emergency Fund, UNICEF, says it is committed to ensuring a better future for all Nigerian children in line with the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC), submitting that their welfare and development remained a top priority.

The chief of UNICEF Enugu Field Office, Dr Ibrahim Conteh, made the remarks in Calabar at the weekend during this year’s World Children Day celebration, organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Cross River state ministry of women affairs, and which had the theme ‘A Global Day of Action for Children by Children.’

Conteh reiterated that the concern for better future for children globally caused the international body to adopt the Declaration of the Right of the Child on November 20, 1959 and subsequent adoption of Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC) in 1998 by the UN General Assembly.

“As we mark World Children’s Day 2020, we face a very different situation to previous years. COVID-19 is a child rights crisis and I thank you all for your commitment to protecting children from the impacts of this pandemic.

“Our post-pandemic rebuilding must meet the scale of this moment by overcoming our differences and working across generations to shape a world fit for every child to grow, develop and thrive.

“Children may be masked, but they are not muted. This World Children’s Day, we follow their lead and commit to working together to reimagine a better future,” he said.

Conteh, who was represented by Mr Victor Atuchukwu, child protection specialist, noted that UNICEF has four guiding principles to ensure implementation of these goals. They include non-discrimination of children no matter colour, tribe, religious belief; taking the best interests of the child into consideration in all things; the right to life, survival and development; and children’s right to express their views in all matters of issues affecting them.

“World Children Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated on 20th November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness amongst children worldwide and improving children welfare,” he said.

The state commissioner for women affairs, Rita Agbo Ayim, in her remarks, urged children to come forward with ideas on how government could impact on them for a better future but lamented that the lean resources at government’s disposals were hindering many development plans to give the leaders of tomorrow what could constitute an ideal world for them.

In their different reactions, children who were drawn from many secondary schools in Calabar, opined that their ideal world entailed drastic reduction in mass suffering, elimination of pervading corruption and insecurity in the country, and creation of political atmosphere to enable youths be at the helm of affairs politically and economically.

“The old generation in government has refused to retire. They would always have old mindsets which are not in tandem with the 21st century internet world.

“Lack of electricity in our cities, worsening bad roads, high level insecurity, collapsed educational system and many other challenges are legacies of the old generation. We appeal to UNICEF to talk to our political leaders to give us an opportunity to reverse the trend for the sake of our future,” Faith Otu, an SS III student of Sacred Heart Girls International Secondary School, Calabar, said.

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