By Joyce Remi- Babayeju
United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, yesterday lit Abuja City Gate blue to raise attention to the need for government and other stakeholders to renew their commitment to the realisation of Children’s Rights in Nigeria.
UNICEF’s Chief of Communication in Nigeria, Eliana Drakopoulos, who spoke at the symbolic ceremony stressed the need for Children’s Rights to take centre stage in the country’s efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, by 2030.
Drakopoulos said: “We are lighting up the Abuja City Gate blue as a symbol of our commitment to children in this country. Every nation including Nigeria has improvements they can make on the realisation of the rights of children.
“So, it’s important that we look at these rights when we are seeking to achieve the SDGs. We have till 2030 to achieve these goals but we need to step up progress on the realisation of the rights of children to access quality education, healthcare and play.”
Also Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF’s Communication Specialist Abuja, noted that iconic buildings around the world such as the New York Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal in India and the Sydney Opera would also be lit blue for a similar purpose.
Njoku called on the public to sign an online petition on Children’s Rights published on UNICEF website which will be presented to Heads of State at next year’s UN General Assembly to extract a fresh commitment from them towards realising these rights in their respective countries.
Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, further urged parents to avail their kids the opportunity to be part of the Children’s Parliament in Abuja and to use the platform for aggregating their voices towards the realisation and protection of their rights.
Some children and adolescents, present at the event urged government to give children quality education, and asked for reduction in the age of consent for access to sexual and reproductive health, eradication of stigma against young peoole suffering HIV/AIDS, and removal of user fee for access to antiretroviral drugs amongst others.