From: Ali Abare, Gombe
Gombe State has joined four other states in the country to launch the End Violence Against Children Campaign (ENDVACNgr) initiated in September 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The cermony and official unveiling of the Gombe State Priority Action Plan took place at the Gombe State University on Wednesday.
In an opening address, Country Representative, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Mohamed Malick Fall congratulated Gombe State for joining Lagos, Cross River, Benue and Plateau states in the collective effort to end violence against children.
Fall descriped as critical that the initial momentum by the President’s initiative in 2015 is sustained in order to achieve the 16.2 target set by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children.
Represented at the event by Dr. Abdulai Kaikai, Chief Field Office at the Bauchi Field Office, the UNICEF country representative noted that as shown by Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey 2014, “violence impacts millions of children’s lives every year across Nigeria.”
“You cannot help but be shocked by the huge numbers of children experiencing violence. The survey findings indicate that violence against children is a problem that transcends social and economic status,” Fall said.
He expressed hope that the energy generated by the launch and the recognition of its significance will inspire govetnment, non-governmental organisations, religious and traditional rulers, media among others to take action to ensure that all children in Gombe can grow up free from violence.
In a keynote address, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo described children as a gift from God as well as the most important asset for sustainable development.
Represented by his deputy, Charles Iliya, the governor said the event will further highlight the importance of child protection, survival and development.
He assured that government would work assiduously towards implementing policies and programmes aimed at ending violence against children.
Dankwambo however warned that any individual or group found wanting will face the full wrath of the law, stressing that it is an obligation the society owe children in line with the rights guaranteed children in the 1999 constitution.
“We should also encourage our children to speak out whenever they are abused or feel threatened by someone or situation around them,” he said.
The governor called on traditional rulers, religious leaders, civil society groups, human rights activities as well as other partners to redouble efforts to stem what he described a unacceptable rising cases of violence against children.
“I enjoin the mass media to promptly report cases of violence against children and assist in sensitizing the general public against stigmatizing victims,” he said.
Earlier in a welcome address, state Commissioner Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Rabi Daniel said the priority action plan unveiled is a robust mechanism put in place as response to violence against children in the state.