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HomeNewsKADUNA STATE: ADVOCACY FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CHILDREN’S PARLIAMENT

KADUNA STATE: ADVOCACY FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CHILDREN’S PARLIAMENT

By Yusuf Ishaku Goje

In Kaduna State, according to the National Bureau of Statistics 2022 MPI Survey, multidimensional poverty by age group between 0 to 17 years is 4.3 million. The State is also among the four States in Nigeria with over one-quarter of poor children under 5. Currently, there are about 660,000 out-of-school children in the State.

UNICEF during a recent visit to the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Uba Sani, said 60% of children suffer from acute malnutrition in the State. Not to forget children that suffer from insecurity and sexual violence.

The above data should cause sleepless nights for any well-meaning administration. More so, for a State that has a high dependency rate with 49% of its population below 14 years old. Also, despite the passage of the Child Welfare and Protection Law, 2018, there is much to be achieved in terms of its implementation.

To address the myriad of challenges confronting children in the State and accelerate the implementation of the law, it is imperative to give those that are directly affected a formal platform that empowers and amplifies their voices. A platform that will ensure that they are not just beneficiaries but stakeholders in the decision making process. The most viable safe space to actualize this is the children’s parliament.

The previous administration under former Governor, Malam Nasir El-rufai, made a commitment that a children’s parliament will be inaugurated before he leaves office and will enshrine it in the State laws to become part of the legal system. This statement was made when he received a delegation of pupils, supported by Save The Children International, from Kaduna State public schools in commemoration of Children’s Day Celebration in 2022.

Unfortunately, even with a budgetary allocation of N12.7 million this year, that commitment was not fulfilled up until when he left office on May 29th, 2023. In line with his continuity mantra during the gubernatorial election campaigns, we hope that the incumbent Governor will translate this important commitment made to children from mere rhetoric to reality, in this case the accelerated establishment of a children’s parliament in the State.

In addition, the current administration in its SUSTAIN blueprint committed to a social contract to ensure that every child in the state continues to enjoy free Primary and Secondary Education. In addition, reduce child mortality, ramp up enrollment in contributory health insurance and thereby sustain care for pregnant women and children in public hospitals.

In its 2024 budget, the administration has allocated N24.6 million for the establishment of a children’s parliament in the 2024 budget. Other children-specific budget line items under the Ministry of Human Services & Social Development are the Child protection services, N60.2 million; At Risk Children Program (ARC-P), N288 million; repatriation of foster and destitute children, N60 million. This is a addition to allocations that directly and indirectly affect children in education and health sub-sectors.

The Governor has not failed to remind residents of the State of his passion as a campaigner for social justice from his days as a civil society activist. Therefore, it is time for him once more to go beyond rhetoric by accelerating the approval of cash-backed budget release and mandating the Ministry of Human Services & Social Development to establish the Kaduna State Children’s Parliament.

This action if taken will put the Governor in good light as an ambassador for child development. The children of Kaduna State are looking up to the Governor to give them a voice and make it count. Just like their peers at the National and other sub-nationals, they await when the first children parliamentarians will be sworn in. The time to act is now!

Goje is the Head of Leadership, Governance & Advocacy of the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED)

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