In Nigeria, May 27 of every year is observed as International Children’s Day.
On June 1, 1925, during the World Conference on the welfare of children in Geneva, May 27 was declared International Children’s Day.
Each year has a theme that looks at the specific plights of children around the world.
The theme for 2022 is ‘Investing in our future means investing in our children.’
In 2018, a UNICEF survey showed that the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria had risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, the highest in the world with about 60% in the northern part of the country.
An analysis by EduCeleb.com in 2019 reveals that Northwest Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children with 3,490,671 children. It is trailed by the Northeast with 2,001,01 children and the Southwest with 1,451,740.
The Northcentral has 1,328,111 while the South-south and South-east have 1,208,182 and 713,176 respectively. There are no signs of these figures reducing any time soon. Rather, these out-of-school children in huge numbers are turning into beggars, hawkers, and miscreants on the streets across the country.
In desertion, children are usually neglected by parents, they get deprived of all family, cultural and societal norms leading them to streets begging in search of livelihood; in the process, a majority of them are introduced to substance abuse, phone snatching, petty stealing, breaking and entry, and other heinous crimes.
Child Street begging has health and socio-economic implications and consequences such as terrorism, kidnappings, and banditry.
In Kano, government has made efforts to return some of these children begging in the streets to their parents during the peak period of the global health pandemic – the Covid-19, but these children somehow found their way back to the streets.
In February 2022, the Kano government established an agency for the evacuation and emancipation of beggars, under the leadership of Mallam Albakari Mika’il.
The organization was tasked with clearing Kano roads of young children who are endangering their lives by begging and cleaning car windshields.
Despite the laws and multiple interventions by the government, street begging persists and is becoming a menace in Kano state.
The Secretary, International Federation of women lawyers (FIDA), Barr. Katumi Oboiren in an interview with Stallion Times in Kano said government enacted the street begging probation law of 2013 and Section 3 prohibits street begging.
She said FIDA has been conducting sensitization campaigns and advocacies to create awareness of the law by visiting relevant stakeholders to reduce child street begging to the barest minimum by catering to their wards.
She said: “As part of its mandate, FIDA visit LGAs and communities to enlighten parent and children about these laws.
“In the past, ‘FIDA visited primary and secondary schools to enlighten children about their human rights, engage them in career talks as well as sensitize community members on the need for children to be in school.
To commemorate the 2022 Children’s Day celebration, FIDA is working to collaborate with the Kano State Ministry of Women’s Affairs to conduct some activities like visiting Remand Homes’ where Juveniles offenders are kept to monitor and encourage them to be law-abiding and conduct series of sensitizations.
Katuma said since Kano is a commercial hub, it attracts most of these juveniles from other neighboring Jigawa and Katsina states.
Meanwhile, Implementing the legal framework has become a major challenge.
She said Child Street Begging Probation Law has been around but has no proper implementation because different organizations’ mandates seem to be overlapping.
For example, Section 5 of the law gives HISBA the mandate to prosecute offenders, as well as any other relevant law enforcement agency that apprehends an individual who violates the law; such individual will be brought before sharia or a magistrate court through a direct complaint.
Anti-bara is also another agency created by the state government to equally look into child street begging.
According to Katuma, rather than partnership, unhealthy competition has become a major challenge amongst these organizations.
“Though FIDA will continue to use different mediums like radio, print, and strategic visits to Mai-ungwa’s to advocate for parental care.
“A child looking for a means of survival can do anything and everything, so, to reduce child street begging, it is very important to invest in the child’s future.
“Parents must be more responsible and ensure that they are close to their children rather than neglect them.
“We may as well be sitting on a time bomb that is just ticking. This will not only affect the North but Nigeria as a whole,” she added.
Since education is free for everyone, parents should utilize this opportunity judiciously, she advised.
Kano state has the ‘Child Protection Law’ and the ‘Child Molestation Prohibition Law’ and many other laws, what remains is the implementation by relevant constituted authorities.
Happy Children’s Day! Let’s invest in our future by investing in our children.