The Lagos state government on Tuesday launched its report on the financial benchmark and economic burden of violence against children, reiterating its resolve to spearhead the fight against the phenomenon in Nigeria.
UNICEF’s recent finding indicates that six out of 10 Nigerian children experience some form of violence, one in two children experiences physical violence, one in four girls experiences sexual violence, one in ten boys experiences sexual violence, one in six girls experiences emotional violence while one in five boys experiences emotional violence.
According to the Lagos state government, however, the trend is disturbing and must be curbed in order to secure the future of Nigeria for all.
Permanent secretary for the state’s ministry of youth and social development, Bola Balogun, said at the occasion that time had come for all government ministries, departments and agencies to work together at achieving the objectives aimed at the curbing violence against children in the state.
“It is a huge task without doubt but we owe it a duty to our children and their future,” she said.
Balogun, who observed the enormity of the job due to varied interests involved, lamented delayed release of funds which said hampered previous activities.
“Funds take cumbersome processes to get released. Even though they still come in the end, but they came late,” the permanent secretary also said, while tasking stakeholders not to get discouraged by the trend.
But the permanent secretary in the state’s ministry of finance, Olufunmilayo Balogun, said the ministry was resolved to support any initiative that aimed to improve the lot of children in the state, despite odds.
“We would support efforts that target sustainable success, but only when such efforts are coordinated in ways that the stakeholders realise that they are working towards achieving a common purpose,” the finance commissioner said.
A representative of the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning in Abuja, Grace Obi-Ukpabi, urged the stakeholders on the need to be prudent with funds amidst reports of what she called funds’ diversion. “This specially pertains to schools’ heads who use funds meant for child’s protection to construct fences and gates,” she said.
Education officers, health officers and social services providers for childrenat the occasion lamented persistent poor funding for their activities which they said threatened wholesome protection for children against violence.
However, UNICEF’s child protection specialist, Juliane Koenig, warned that overdependence on donors’ funds could jeopardise Nigeria’s quest to curb violence against the child.
“The fact is that donors are finding it hard to meet commitments these days and this is why government must realise that it has a huge to play in this aspect as no donor can be bigger than the government,” Koenig said.
The UNICEF expert said the international children’s body expected the benchmark report to be launched in all the states in Nigeria in the months ahead.
“This is necessary to measure the work done with previous interventions. We plan to work with all accountants-general of Nigeria and the National Assembly with a view to including funds for child protection in the budgets with a five-year implementation plan into the 2020 budgets. In addition, we would organise refresher workshops that ensure adequate dissemination of advocacy materials, form task teamsand work with the media,” she said.
PHOTO: Permanent secretaries of Lagos state ministry of finance, Olufunmilayo Balogun, her counterpart in the ministry of youth and social development, Bola Balogun and director of welfare, Olabode Ajao, at the launch of financial benchmark and economic burden of violence against children in Lagos on Tuesday.