By; Jacob Onjewu Dickson.
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and some of his colleagues spent the whole of Friday celebrating children of various ages, as part of activities to mark the 2016 Children’s Day.
According to a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, which New Nigerian got a copy of, the school pupils and secondary school students who arrived the Senate at 9am and took a tour of the Senate Chambers.
Saraki later received them in his office and thereafter read to them from a story book Titled: “Ngozi Comes To Town” written by Fatima Akilu and published by Cassava Republic.
The Senate President admonished the children to read and take their studies serious so as to grow to become great leaders. He also presented packs of gifts, consisting reading materials to the children.
After the reading session, the Senate President and other Senators including Chairman Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Summonu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND, Senator Binta Garba Masi and Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, held another session for secondary school students drawn from Shining Star College, Abuja and Government Secondary School (GSS) Jabi, Abuja.
At the session with the students, Saraki presented them each with a “Children’s Handbook on Nigerian 1999 Constitution” and advised them to read it as a preparation towards playing important roles in the society in future.
Saraki had earlier on Thursday held an interactive session with students from various secondary schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja as part of activities to mark this year’s Children’s Day, where he called for the strict implementation of the Child’s Right Act to guarantee security and safety for the Nigerian child.
He noted that the theme for the 2016 Children’s Day which borders on protecting children against violence and early marriage are issues that are very dear to the Senate.
He said the Senate would henceforth ensure, through its relevant committees that those found to have infringed upon the rights of children are made to face the law and appropriate sanctions meted out to them.
“I want to first of all reassure you that we believe the future belongs to the children and there is no society that can flourish if the future is not better than the present and for the future of Nigeria to be better than the present, we want all our children to have a greater future and that is our own responsibility”, he said.
On the implementation of the Child’s Rights Act, the Senate President said: “We are going to engage with legislators from the different states to see how those who have passed the Child’s Rights Act can begin to implement them and to make those in the remaining 12 states who have not passed it to understand the need for them to pass it.
“We are going to do a lot of advocacy and consultations and we are hoping to have a kind of conference with all the states, so that the entire 36 states would have the law. Clearly, it is a task before us to ensure that the laws we passed that have to do with the safety of our children are adhered to. We must today as part of the ceremony for this year’s Children’s Day, make a commitment to see that through oversight we ensure the implementation of laws meant to protect our children from abuse and violence.
“I think it is also the responsibility of the supervising ministries to engage us and bring some of these cases of abuse to the attention of the relevant committees so that we can through our oversight function address them.
“No matter what we do in any other aspect of this society, if we cannot achieve the basic things of providing safety for our children then we cannot say that we are one of the top 20 economies in the world. A country does not just achieve that status by GDP measured on the scale decided by economic forces. The quality of the future life for our children is very important,” he said.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs, Binta Bello, who represented the Minister of Women Affairs at the interactive session, said the theme of this year’s celebration is “Protect the right of the child in the face of violence and insecurity and end child marriage.”