His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Aso Rock Villa Abuja/FCT
16 June 2022
Open Advocacy Letter to H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari
Our warmest greetings to you on this very special day, The Day of the African Child, 2022! We are so excited to be able to reach you today not only as our President, but as a dear father and loving grandfather who listens to us, your children. Why we celebrate The Day of the African Child The Day of the African Child is celebrated to remember hundreds of school-children who lost their lives during a peaceful protest for their right to education in Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976. To honour their courage and in memory of those killed, the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union), established The Day of the African Child. First celebrated on June 16, 1991, the Day has continued to be an opportunity for African children to advocate and campaign for their own rights.
As we celebrate The Day of the African Child this year, we would like to very sincerely engage with Your Excellency our dear President on how we can jointly set a national development agenda specially tailored for children that ensures our rights are protected, respected and fulfilled at all levels.
On behalf of Nigerian children, we would like to appreciate your determination over the last seven years towards the development of our great country. We recognize, in particular, the policy provisions under your leadership, including but not limited to the Safe School Declaration (SSD) and the National Health Insurance Authority Act (NHIA) that will contribute towards the improvement of the lives of many children and their future. Your Excellency, in celebrating the 2022 Day of the African Child, children all over the continent are calling on their governments to protect children from harmful traditional practices and end all forms of violence against girls and boys.
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) indicates that harmful practices include all behavior, attitudes, and/or practices which negatively affect the fundamental rights of women and girls, such as their right to life, health, dignity, education and physical integrity. In our country, we are exposed to and affected by the high prevalence of harmful practices including child marriage, forced marriage and female genital mutilation, among others. These practices, behaviors and discriminations are constructed based on gender, age, and other structural barriers that often result in childhood emotional and physical injuries of life time.
Therefore, today, we stand with one voice, from Soweto to Sokoto, demanding an end to all forms of harmful practices and violence against children in Nigeria and Africa.
Nigerian children are, by this letter, joining in this call and using the opportunity to draw your attention to some of the issues that are of great concern to us. We hope that you will find the time to look into them and address them urgently.
Protection of Children from Harmful PracticesWe applaud the federal government of Nigeria for the provisions of laws to protect children’s rights, such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) (2015) and the Child Rights Act (2003). We appreciate all state governments that have domesticated the VAPP and the Child Rights Act. However, unless these bills are supported by the development of implementation strategy and plan as well as backed by the allocation, timely release and utilization of adequate domestic funds, we will not be able to feel, experience and enjoy the fulfilments of our rights as articulated in the bills. Therefore, we would most sincerely request your commitment to address these issues before the end of your leadership terms – which will be remembered as one of your legacies.
Safe and Quality Learning Environment for all ChildrenChildren are under attack by the increasing number of sexual abuse, molestation and violence, including rape, early child and forced marriage, child labor and trafficking, making us feel more unsafe, unprotected and experiencing different forms of trauma. Moreover, schools, students, teachers and generally education have been targeted by armed groups. Our right to safety and protection are therefore at higher risk.
Our ‘Ask’ We would like to be a part of discussions regarding the Nigeria we want to see in a decade or two and beyond, as the country’s future depends on how the government invests in us today. We call upon the government to double its investment in children and prioritize the full implementation of child sensitive policies and strategies nationwide.
We are appealing for the establishment of at least one specialized children’s court and dedicated law enforcement units within the Nigerian Police, Security and Defense forces, agencies and services in each of the six geo-political zones of the country to fast-track the full implementation of the VAPP (2015) and Child Rights Act (2003). We would like to sincerely request the government to design a child-led, comprehensive, multi-sectoral, national development agenda and plan for children.
The government, at all levels, should prioritize the implementation and domestication of the Child Rights Act 2003. This will provide children in Nigeria with the necessary legal policy framework for seeking justice when our rights are denied or abused.
We, the children, represent the future, and we deserve an opportunity to realize and release our full potentials. Your Excellency, the Children of Nigeria, will continue to look up to you and your administration for our growth and the development of our dear country at large. We thank you in advance for your kind consideration and response to our letter. Yours sincerely, Madina Abdulkadri, Member, State Children Parliament, Borno; Girl Champion, SCI;Ibrahim Zanna Sunoma, Rt. Hon. Speaker, State Children Parliament, Borno;Aisha Idris Nakano, Former House Leader, State Children Parliament, Child Rights Activist, Katsina;Purity Oriaifo – Rt. Hon. Speaker, Children Parliament, FCT, Girl Champion, SCI; Maryam Ahmed – Youth Ambassador, SCI Nigeria;
Save the Children International Nigeria