Paul Orude, Bauchi
The wife of the Bauchi State Governor, Hajia Hadiza Mohammed Abubakar, on Monday officially launched the Enhancing Child Care, Protection and Accountability Parenting in Nigeria (ECCAP-N) project in the state to abolish child street begging and the stigmatization of children as witches.
The ECCAP-N project was initiated by ActionAid Nigeria and launched by the governor’s wife in partnership with a Bauchi-based NGO, FAHIMTA Women and Youth Development Initiative.
The Advisor, Partnership and Local Development of Action Aid Nigeria, Hajara Adamu, disclosed that the ECCAP-N project cuts across the six states of Bauchi, Gombe, Kebbi, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna and Kwara.
Adamu stated that the objective of the project is to senstitise parents on their religious and constitutional responsibilities in providing care and protection for their children from vices of abuse, neglect and abandonment.
Other objectives of the project, she said, include the integration of street children and children labelled witches back to their families, provision of livelihood support to mothers of street beggars, and to support child education within their environment.
While launching the ECCAP-N project as part of activities to commemorate the 2018 Children’s Day, Abubakar lamented that, “over 17.5 million children are categorised as orphans and vulnerable, while a quarter of these children between the ages of 5 to 15 are actively involved in child labour, experiencing abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect.”
Abubakar, founder of Bauchi State Women Economic Empowerment Project (BSWEEP), went on to add that: “The figure is alarming. This menace not only exposes them to multiple risks, but also results in loss of dignity and sometimes death. The plight of children in Nigeria has been a great source of concern to us and we are worried not only because of the high level of vulnerabilities these children are exposed to but because of what the future holds for these children who are future leaders.”
She also lamented that despite the many programmes put in place by government in support of orphans and vulnerable children, many children are still exposed to various forms of discrimination, neglect and abuse, noting that the ECCAP-N project was timely and a step in the right direction.
Expressing her delight that Bauchi State is one of the states of coverage, she pledged:
“I therefore express my commitment as a person to support this project. I am also committed to using my position as the Chair of the Northern Governors’ Wives Forum to mobilise other first ladies to join hands together in achieving the objectives of this project.”
The launch was attended by various stakeholders, including the representatives of the Country Director and Head of Programmes of ActionAid Nigeria, Suwaiba Yakubu-Jibril, traditional and religious leaders, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, civil society organisations, Community Representatives and the media.