The Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, OFR, KSG has stated that the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerian Children have left the country’s leaders including herself, with no choice than to ensure that there is a re-assessment the commitments of the leaders to the promotion of the rights of the child in line with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution and other Regional and Sub-Regional Declarations on the Rights of the Child to which Nigeria is a signatory to.
According to her “It is a time for stock taking and assessment of the current challenges that affect our planning and implementation strategies in view of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all facets of our national life.”
Dame Pauline Tallen, OFR, KSG stated this while delivering a keynote address on the occasion of the 2021 National Children’s Day which was celebrated jointly with the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory at the International Conference Centre, Abuja on Thursday, 27th May, 2021.
At the occasion, there select representatives of Nigerian Children present in their colours and shades.
The 2021 theme for the celebration which is “Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic on the total wellbeing of the Nigerian Child: The way Forward”, the Honourable Minister said, finds its relevance in the COVID-19 crisis which has resulted in a child rights crisis. “The effects and impact of the pandemic for children are immediate and, if left unattended, may remain with us for long.” Dame Tallen stated that as a result of the aforesaid, “It is a time for stock taking and assessment of the current challenges that affect our planning and implementation strategies in view of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all facets of our national life.”
Identifying the challenges faced by the Nigerian children during pandemic’s lockdown, Dame Tallen said it includes many children who were locked out of their physical schools and also could not afford to buy personal laptops, or afford data to participate in online schools; children whose parents lost jobs as a result of reduction in workforce/retrenchments following business losses in their parents’ places of work; some children who were sexually molested and many others.
The Women Affairs Minister disclosed that “In a Survey conducted by Save the Children on the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Children in West and Central Africa in 2020 indicate that, 92% of surveyed households struggle to pay for food, health care, rent, fuel, nutrition and other essential needs. While UNICEF also projected that about 950 Nigerian Children could die every day from preventable causes over the next 6 month as the COVID-19 Pandemic disrupt routine services and threaten to weaken the health services.” Such were the plights of the child facing survival struggle in Nigeria.
For these reasons, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, the Minister disclosed, “is deliberately engaging a participatory approach that aggregates the concerns and priorities of Nigerian children, while ensuring that their human rights concerns are systematically protected.”
The Minister again analysed the grim reality of these identified challenges and concluded that “This means that we need to take into cognizance the poorest of the poor children who do not have access to basic facilities in the rural areas, nor have ever seen been exposed to any ICT facility. Imagine how truncated their lives were with the lockdown measures put in place to curb the rise of the pandemic.”
The Honourable Minister of Women affairs therefore said it is time for all hands to be on deck to help each Nigerian child to realize his or her potentials. She called on Communities and well-to-do individuals, churches, mosques and religious leaders to join forces with Government to help the Nigerian children.
At the celebration arena, the gathered children received gifts of branded exercise books from the Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari who was represented as well as listened to inspiring address of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR who was also represented by Mallam Muhammed Musa Bello, the Honourable Minister of FCT.
Jointly, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory and their partners such as UNICEF, Save the Children, UN Women, UNDP, UNFPA and others ensured that the Children present and other guests were feted sumptuously.
Dame Tallen expressed appreciation for the efforts of the State Governors, their Wives “for making our work seemingly simple.”
There were speeches of goodwill from several organizations which have things to do with children and there were prices given for various competition held before the D-Day of National Children’s Day. Prices were given for cultural dances, Essay Competition, Poetry and other activities. There were also cultural dances to break the boredom that might otherwise be experienced by children who are natural excited and wouldn’t have been kept in a place for long.
The 2021 edition of the National Children’s Day couldn’t be celebrated differently because of the pervading effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which prohibits the way such day was celebrated in the past with march past at stadia across the country and at Eagles Square in the case of Abuja, FCT.
There were several dignitaries from all works of life too numerous to mention, who turned out to celebrate the day with the Nigerian Children as hosted by Dame Pauline Tallen and her Counterpart Ministers of Federal Capital Territory.