The House of Representatives has urged stakeholders to take urgent actions against child destitution and street begging to avert the looming danger posed by the menace.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, at a public hearing on the matter in Abuja, described child destitution and begging as a keg of gunpowder waiting to explode.
Gbajabiamila said this at the hearing organised by the House Committee on Poverty Alleviation on a motion earlier adopted by the House titled: ‘Need to Eradicate Child Destitution and Remove Beggars from Nigerian Streets Through Provision of Standardised Education System and Improved Livelihood’.
The Speaker recalled that in 2003 when the Child’s Rights Act was assented to by former President Olusegun Obasanio following its passage by the National Assembly, the federal legislature had domesticated Nigeria’s adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Unfortunately, 17 years later, about 11 states have yet to enact the law. The Child’s Rights Act is the basis upon which the Nigerian child ought to be protected and its implementation means a lot to the future of the Nigerian state,” he said.
The Speaker also noted that in addition to the Child’s Rights Act, the Universal Basic Education Act was also enacted to make provision for compulsory, free and universal basic education for all children of primary and junior secondary school age in the country.
He said it further sought to provide punishment for parents for failing to comply with its provisions.
Gbajabiamila stated, “The notion canvassed by the UBEC that about 13.2 million Nigerian children are out of school is no doubt worrisome. It presents a clear picture of the 21st and 22nd Century Nigeria, where a large part of the population or the labour force may not be employable.
“With the array of stakeholders expected to gather here today, I am positive that the discussions that will ensue here shall be rich and contribute immensely in assisting the legislature to, once again, intervene adequately in this regard.
As we commence activities here in earnest, I wish to enjoin all the participants to consider the issue of child destitution as one that requires urgent steps. It is like a keg of gunpowder waiting to explode. It requires urgent steps to tackle this obvious menace.
“At the end of the day, it is expected that we shall all come to consensus as to where we need to take further actions that will see us embracing those decisions that are in the best interests of the child.”
The Chairman of the committee, Mr Abdullahi Salame, noted that the public hearing was organised in fulfilment of the legislative procedure that was required to assist the House in taking far-reaching and adequate resolutions on the issue of child destitution and street begging.