A Consultant with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Rita Fele, said annually physical, sexual and emotional violence against children resulting to deaths and disability costs Nigeria N1.42 trillion.
She also said over 50 percent of boys and 50 percent of girls suffer physical violence in the country before they get to the age of 18.
On the other hand, she maintained that 11 percent of boys and 25 percent of girls in the country are victims of sexual violence prior to the aforementioned age.
Fele who disclosed this during the official launch of Reports of Financial Benchmark and Economic Burden of Violence Against Children in Nigeria, held in Jos, for Plateau and Gombe States; added that 20 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls in the country suffer emotional violence before they turn 18 years.
“On the average, deaths and disability resulting from acts of violence against children costs Nigeria N1.42 trillion annually; this is equivalent to 1.6 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”, she explained.
According to her, “On average, the total consolidated Child Protection expenditure in Nigeria amounts to only N10.1 billion annually. This equates to a mere 0.2 percent of average annual GDP for the years reviewed in the Financial Benchmark for child protection in Nigeria.
“Currently, only 14 percent of Child Protection expenditure in Nigeria is devoted to critical prevention services”, she lamented.
“A strong shift in budget allocation and expenditure towards prevention services is required to create a more holistic Child Protection system.
The Consultant called for the establishment of a Violence Against Children (VAC) toll free helpline , to improve the delivery of child protection services across the country.
Earlier in a keynote address delivered by the Chief of Field Office UNICEF, Mr Bhanu Pathak, said, “Both States are two out of the four States in which UNICEF has worked very closely with the government of Nigeria in Child Protection System Strengthening (CPSS).
Pathak who was represented by Amos Kudzala, Officer in charge, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, maintained that, “The launch of the two reports today affords us the opportunity to know first hand, what we are putting into Child Protection as well as the high economic cost of violence against children in Nigeria.
“In further support of the long process to get to the 2030 target, UNICEF supported both the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, to conduct complementary studies, two of which reports constitute the subject of today’s launch as mentioned already.
He said, the aforementioned States are already embarking on a journey, “I am certain, will push harder than ever, to end violence, exploitation and abuse against children; as a core duty to children.
“What we do today will affect tomorrow as a duty, we cannot fail the children.
“We must therefore protect them through adequate budgetary provisions, allocations and releases to ensure their protection from violence”, he stressed.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Plateau State Ministry of Women and Social Development, Hassana Ayika, who launched the two reports supported by other officials from Gombe State, said Plateau State has gone far in the area of child protection and is the first state to domestic the child protection law in northern Nigeria.
Ayika also said a judge is in place in the state for any matter on violence against children.
Also an Assistant Director, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Abuja, Grace Obi-Ukpabi, said 41 percent of the country’s population are children and their potential needs to be harnessed.
Ukpabi maintained that, “Rather than making investment in infrastructure, more investment should be in the children; as ending violence against children is a collective endeavour by parents and government”.