A group of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Gombe state, have advised the state government to prioritise the domestication of the Child Rights Act in order to tackle the menace of early marriage in the state.
The NGOs made the call in separate interviews with Our Correspondent in Gombe on Tuesday.
They spoke on the sideline of a round table meeting organized by Save the Children International to deliberate on the best approach to tackle Child Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM).
According to them, it had become imperative that the Acts be domesticated if Gombe hopes to address the issues related to child rights violation in the state, adding that without the Acts, nothing would work.
Altine Lewi, Gombe State Project Manager, Save the Children International, said that the committee set up by the previous administration had concluded and submitted its report to the Office of the Secretary to the Government.
“ So we are appealing to the new administration which has proven to be a listening government with its approach to responding to issues, to quickly do something about the domestication of the Act in Gombe.
“ It is key for the rights of Gombe State children to be protected by enforcing their rights to education, health and many others that will make them better representatives of Gombe in the future,’’ she said.
Dr Cletus Ifeka, Adolescent and Sexual Reproductive Health Co-ordinator, Save the Children International said a programme geared towards ending early child and forced marriages were on-going in Dukku and Balanga local government areas.
“The project came up based on the data that shows that Northern Nigeria especially Northeast and Northwest were encumbered by many problems around children not going to school or when they go to school they don’t finish.
“The project is working with every stakeholder from parents to the community, religious leaders, media and the government. If the Acts is domesticated it will go a long way in addressing these issues.
“We are looking at it from the point of view that if every child especially the female is allowed to finish school, then the ability to develop comprehensively is ensured.
“When they eventually marry, they have knowledge of how to take care of the family. This increases the probability of their own children going to school because if you educate a woman you educate a nation.
“If she is allowed to go to school it allows her to have the ability to have the skills to contribute to the productivity of the country,’’ he said.
Ifeka emphasised that where there is no law, there is no offence, adding that “ the Acts will remind people that there is a law which must be obeyed and the consequences of breaking the law.’’
Hajia Zariyatu Abubakar, Chief Executive Director, Wildan Care Foundation said that in the world, every two seconds, a girl is being married off before she is physically, psychologically and emotionally matured to become a mother.
Abubakar decried the menace adding that it contributes to the high rate of the out-of-school syndrome as the girl-child were often married off instead of the opportunity to get good education.
She added that early child marriage reduces the chances of the girl-child escaping poverty, adding that no society could truly make progress without educating all its people irrespective of gender.
“When a woman is educated, the chances of her children getting the education increases by 10 per cent,” she said.