The Senate, on Thursday, tasked the Federal Government to intensify effort to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi schoolgirl yet to be released by her abductors.
It would be recalled that on Feb. 19, 110 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents from Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe.
In addition, the upper chamber also urged the government to ensure that the remaining Chibok schoolgirls, among those abducted in April, 2014 and still in Boko Haram custody, were released.
On March 19, the Federal Government secured the release of 105 of the girls through negotiation with the insurgents. Four of the girls reportedly died during the operation, while one, Sharibu, was not released.
The girl, a Christian, reportedly refused to renounce her faith as demanded by her abductors and has remained in their captivity.
The resolutions of the lawmakers were sequel to a motion on “2018 Children’s Day Celebration” by Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Sen. Binta Garba, at plenary.
Garba explained that the Nigerian child played a significant role in the development of the country, adding that there was the need to lay a good foundation for them and secure their future.
“We recognise the importance of developing the Nigerian child through the passage of legislation such as the Child Rights Act, 2003.’’
The Act defines a new child protective system and allows opportunities for the participation of children in matters that concern their rights and welfare.
The Act has been domesticated and operational in no fewer than 23 states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory.
She said that there was also the Universal Basic Education Act, 2004 which made education of the Nigerian child compulsory and enforceable rights, with penalties for parents and guardians who fail or neglect the obligations.
The lawmaker also stated that a proper system of education and good health care were indispensable towards making the Nigerian child relevant in the global scheme of things.
She raised concern over infant mortality rate in the country which, according to her, has risen to one million deaths per annum as a result of poor nutrition and poor medical facility.
“Nigeria is the second largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world.
“Under the National Health Act, 2014, all pregnant women, the elderly, the disabled and children are to be exempt from paying for services in public hospitals.”
Garba, however, said that contrary to the Act, children and pregnant women still paid for medical services in public hospitals.
In her contribution, Sen. Rose Oko (PDP-Cross River) decried the number of out-of-school children across the country, saying that the Nigerian child was still a basic target of all sorts of violence, including kidnap and rape.
Decrying that the menace had persisted without abating, Oko, therefore, called for commitment in the implementation of the various Acts related to children issues, to stem the trend.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, urged his colleagues to continue to live up to the responsibility of ensuring that they showed love and care to the children.
He also called for the laying of a foundation for a bright future for the children, saying “as we celebrate, let us take up the responsibility to improve the health of our children.
“With the one per cent we have put for primary health care, and with proper implementation, we can see full coverage of immunisation of our children.
“This will go a long way in reducing the mortality. Secondly, we should look at the UBEC Law and see how we can ensure that there are many more years of free education. This is because education should be very important.
The Senate President added: “That bill has already passed; we are waiting for concurrence from the House of Representatives. It is the kind of gift that we can give our children to lay a bright foundation”.
On the Child Rights Act, Saraki queried why some states are yet to domesticate it and called on those states to ensure speedy passage of the Bill.