Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Honourable Lola Akande has reiterated the commitment of His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration to child protection, survival and development in the State at the 2016 Day of the African Child Celebration at the Combo Hall, LTV 8 Complex Ikeja.

The Commissioner stated that Lagos State tops the list of child-friendly states in the Federation for ensuring that their rights’ are adequately protected, adding that policies have been enacted to make life comfortable and safe for children whilst guaranteeing their rights to survival, protection, development and participation in issues that ensure a dignified life.

Hon. Akande said this year’s theme “Conflicts and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights” is a solemn look at how government and other stakeholders can collectively take urgent actions to mitigate the negative effects of conflicts and war on children.

She opined that “current studies have shown that in many conflict zones, children account for the majority of the casualties. Most die not from the weapons themselves, but from preventable diseases which ravage children because of the disruption of medical services and lack of parental care during the crisis.”

She urged all stakeholders to see the celebration as a clarion call for all to come together for urgent actions with children as the main focus, emphasizing that the conditions of many children today is pathetic. They are victims of sexual abuse, forced marriages, child labour, inadequate parental care, economic exploitation, deprivation, denial of rights and lack of access to good medical care and education.

Hon. Akande disclosed that Lagos has eleven family magistrate courts and six family high courts to prosecute offenders; the child’s rights law also contain protection orders such as emergency protection order for a child at immediate risk to access protective custody; the child assessment order to investigate a family in order to ascertain what is happening to that child, and the care and supervision order for care and protection of the child.

Speaking further, Hon. Akande said that “many children have been rescued and errant parents and guardians prosecuted, with robust and qualitative advocacy on-going through the wide circulation of yellow card and simplified child’s right’s law, creating appreciable awareness on the existence of the Child’s Right’s Law.”

Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, wife of the Governor, represented by Mrs. Rhoda Ayinde, speaking at the occasion said “it is painful that many years after the independence of South Africa, where the incident that gave birth to the idea of the Day of the African Child took place in1976, the main issues of injustice against African children are still here with us, this include low quality education, or outright discrimination in opportunities for good education, abysmally low education budgets of many countries, poor school environments, prioritizing war over education and health among others.”

She further averred that “legislations protecting the rights of the children have been enacted in many states, but the real challenge is that we can only hold countries down to effective implementation of these instruments in an atmosphere of peace.”

She also stated that when a country is at war or undergoing an emergency, it becomes extremely difficult to effectively monitor and push for honest implementation of the child’s rights, this is why we need peace in Africa and indeed the world.

However, the Day of the African Child provides a window of opportunity for countries, international institutions and communities to renew their commitment towards improving their performances in the area of child’s rights.

Lagos State is the first State in Nigeria to respond to the Federal Government’s call for States to initiate their own action plan or campaign to end violence against children, Mrs. Ambode added.

Honourable Funmilayo Tejuosho, one of the discussants who spoke on the effects of Child Marriage on the Family and the Society, disclosed that Child Marriage is barbaric, illegal and should be discouraged and condemned in its totality.

Speaking further, she said that child marriage can lead to the death of mother and child during delivery and this affects the income generation of the State in several ways.

Dignitaries at the occasion include the wife of the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA), Chief Mrs. Olusola Obasa; wife of Deputy Speaker, LSHA, Alhaja Aramide Sanni Eshinlokun; Commissioner for Youth & Social Development, Pharm. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf; Mrs. Adebimpe Akinsola; Special Adviser on Arts & Culture; representatives of Development Partners and members of Children Parliament amongst others.