The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said the economic burden of violence against children in Nigeria amounts to N1.42 trillion, which is equivalent to 1.6 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This was stated in its Consolidated National Financial Benchmark Child Protection Report in Nigeria, for 2019, which was launched and released to stakeholders in Lagos recently.
Presenting the report, the Child Protection UNICEF Specialist, Juliane Koenig, explained that physical violence against children costs Nigeria an average of N1.008 billion yearly, as 52 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls are victims prior to age 18; sexual violence accounts for N307 billion yearly, with 11 per cent of boys and 25 per cent of girls as victims, while emotional violence cost the country N91 billion yearly, with 20 per cent boys and 17 per cent girls as victims, prior to age 18.
The report maintained that based on the current levels of consolidated child protection expenditure in the country, reallocation of just 0.1 per cent of Nigeria’s budget would increase total child protection expenditure by 63 per cent across all levels.
On the state level, the report said additional N2.98 billion or a growth of 0.4 times expenditure would help fill the funding gap in child protection expenditures.
According to her, the report on the economic burden of violence against children in Nigeria represents the first assessment of Federal and State Ministries, Departments and Agencies expenditure on child protection services and programmes in the country.
This, the agency said, is part of the wake-up call by President Muhammadu Buhari in September 2015 for the National Campaign to End Violence Against Children and the launch of its Roadmap in 2016, which identified a number of multi-sectoral priority actions and need to increase the level of public fund allocations for child protection services.
Reviewing the progress made so far in four states – Lagos, Cross River, Gombe and Plateau – the report noted that Lagos budgeted N42.5million in 2018 for child protection, while it requires N5.21billion or an increase of 0.50 per cent to meet up with the requirements in child protection funding.
Cross River budgeted N1, 017 million in 2018 and what they needed is an increase of N1.72billion or an increase of 0.24 per cent. Plateau budgeted N57.5 million, but they need increase of N1.34billion or an increase of 1.66 per cent.
Speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Youths and Social Development, Dr. Bola Balogun, said: “The findings in the two reports launched serves as a wakeup call for all stakeholders to return to the drawing board and chart a new course towards increased funding for child protection and prevention services in their respective ministries, agencies and organisations, with a view to improving the safety of children as well as reduce the cost on response service in the long-run.”
She said the first part of the study was in financial benchmark on child protection to provide evidence of the actual budget allocation and expenditure on child protection services between 2014 and 2016, while the second report was on economic burden of violence against children on the cost of inaction of violence against children, and this she said would help deepen the evidence of the quality of protection for every Nigerian child.
Representing the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Abuja, Grace Obi-Ukpabi said the economic and insecurity challenges experienced today are a product of many years ago, noting that if the country refuses to invest in our child “someday they will kill us.”