1.1 Background to the Study
The strength of the economy of a country is said to be dependent largely on the mental
and social health of women and children of that country. This implies that the
prosperity of a nation invariably rests on people-oriented governmental policies for the
posterity of that nation, Olamide (2013). Therefore, it is incumbent upon the
government of the given society to formulate policies that will foster and enhance
children‟s well-being and education. Findings have shown that most thriving countries
in the world are those that place high priority on the well-being of children in the
process and practice of governance. Research has also shown that children and women
occupy the highest percentage of the population of a given society. Various population
censuses that have been carried out in Nigeria have shown that Nigeria is not exempted
from the above projected studies. Unfortunately, over the years, this all-important
group of people has suffered mostly of the societal ills as a result of lack of legislative
policies, legal instrument and ethical framework that support, promote and protect their
well-being, Olamide (2013).
According to ladan (2007), the Nigerian Constitution under Chapters four and two on
Fundamental Human rights and on fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of
State Policy respectively, is not child rights specific; he further stated that, the various
State Children and Young Persons Laws are largely Juvenile Justice Administration
biased and not necessarily child’s rights and responsibilities specific, as well as not
being CRC/AU Charter friendly in terms of modern conceptions/principles of Juvenile
It is evident in our society that this category of human beings faced peculiar problems
which they are unable to solve themselves as a result of the state of their immature
minds and the positions they occupy in their homes and society at large. Special
Problems faced by millions of Nigerian Children range from problem of disadvantage,
discrimination, abuse and exploitation sometimes in appalling circumstances. These
problems not only compound the risks of survival and create formidable obstacles for
the development of children, but are major challenges in their own right, requiring
special protection measures if they are to be addressed effectively, UNICEF and FGN
Among several international humanitarian bodies across the globe, UNICEF has played
major role in agitating for the right of children. The United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF) is a United Nations Program headquartered in New York City that provides
long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in
developing countries. It is one of the members of the United Nations Development
Group and its Executive Committee, (Undg.org. Retrievedaugust 2014).
UNICEF was created by the United NationsGeneral Assembly on December 11, 1946,
to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been
devastated by World War II. In 1953, UNICEF became a permanent part of the United
Nations System and its name was shortened from the original United Nations
International Children’s Emergency Fund but it has continued to be known by the
popular acronym based on this previous title.
Most of UNICEF’s work is in the field, with staff in over 190 countries and territories.
More than 200 country offices carry out UNICEF’s mission through a program
developed with host governments. Seventeen regional offices provide technical
assistance to country offices as needed.
On 20 November 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention
on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Shortly afterwards, in July 1990, the African Union
Assembly of Heads of States and Governments adopted the African Union Charter on
the Rights and Welfare of the Child (CRWC). Nigeria signed both international
instruments and ratified them in 1991 and 2000, respectively. Both instruments contain
a universal set of standards and principles for survival, development, protection and
participation of children and recognize children as human beings and subjects of rights.
However, since Nigeria operates a Federal system of government where the states are
autonomous and equal, with each state operating its own legislative system many states
are yet to enact state legislations on child rights. In these states the Act has not been
given its due recognition which has made its enforcement far from being functional.
Children are a vulnerable group, they must be protected. Let us accord them their
Children are precious assets and sources of joy not only to their parents and immediate
families but to the entire society. As an upcoming generation and potential leaders of
tomorrow, they have rights that need be protected. They have to be cared for and
nurtured to develop their potentials so that they can contribute to the development of
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Despite the signing into law of the child right Act in Nigeria, its implementation and
enforcement hasbeen far from functional due to a number of problems faced in this
study. These problems includetraditional and cultural beliefs. The family and by
extension the society have failed to come to terms with the fact that children have
rights. It is a taboo for the Nigerian child to sue or seek redress against their parents;
therefore even where children are aware that their rights have been infringed upon or
violated, especially by their parents, it is an uphill task to have such rights enforced.
More so, Religious diversities especially between the Northern and Southern part of the
country are a major challenge to the enforcement of the Act. The definition of the child,
marriageable age and adoption remain areas of controversy which has not allowed for
effective enforcement. Furthermore, the Act provides for the establishment of family
courts for each of the States ofthe Federation and the Federal Capital Territory for the
purpose of hearingand determining matters relating to children. These Courts are
virtuallynon-existent in the states. The few in existence are not well
equipped.Generally, the role of the courts and law enforcement agencies is to carry
outtheir duty of law enforcement. The court also has a role while performing itsduty to
educate citizens in the voluntary and conscientious observance of laws.Unfortunately,
due to lack of training and poor funding, the judicial arm of thegovernment as well as
the police force are yet to be fully sensitized on theprinciples and content of the Act
thereby making enforcement difficult. Finally, majority of the populace are not
conversant with the content of the Act due to illiteracy. Thelegal framework for the
protection of the child is not only unknown by thechildren or their parents, but also
social welfare agencies and all other personsor bodies who are in a position to protect
the rights of the children. It is on this basics, this study targets to throw more light on
the UNICEF governance and the child right act.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main purpose of this research work isto perform a study on UNICEF and the child
right actin Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
i. understand the content of child right of Nigeria and its importance to the
development of the Nigerian child;
ii. Identify reasons why the child right act in Nigeria is not getting the
desired support within theStates in Nigeria;
ii. Clarify the efforts of UNICEF in the enforcement of the child right act
in the states of Nigeria; and
1.4 Research Hypotheses
H1: UNICEF child right act has been significantly effective in Nigeria
H0:UNICEF child right act has not been significantly effective in Nigeria
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study is significant in the sense that it will provide relevant information on the
child right act to the public. The study will in addition, serve as a raw material for
researchers who may wish to conduct research into areas covered by this study on
UNICEF, governance and the child right in Nigeria, vis-à-vis the statutory law
provision for the child, opinion and preference of child in the states and customary law.
Another significance of this study is that many parent are not familiar with the
importance of the child right act in particular. Therefore, this study will be significant
to the parent also making them to know the right of their children in their homes and
environment. Other researchers and the government can use the suggestions or
recommendations made by the researcher in this study regarding UNICEF, governance
and the child right act in Nigeria.
1.6Scope/Delimitation of the Study
Although, the study is to cover UNICEF and child right act in Nigeria, the researcher
will focus on the child‟s rights. Furthermore, this study will consider the factor
responsible for the slow implementation of the UNICEF child right act in Nigerian state
and its importance to governance and the economy of the country.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
The study focuses on the UNICEF and the child right act of Nigeria. This study cannot
be carried out in the 36 states in the country. Selected states will be used as study case
for the research work. In view of that, the child, their right, responsibilities and
preferences of in Nigeria will be illuminated. Due to time and money constraint the
study is concentrated on thechild. The choice for the study is because the researcher
knows the importance of children as the potential leaders of the country and the effort
of UNICEF in the implementation of the child right act in the country.
1.8 Definition of the Terms
Child:a child as one who is below the age of eighteen (18) years. A child comprises of
male and female
Right: a claim recognized and delimited by law for the purpose of securing it or the
interest in a claim which is recognized by and protected by sanctions of
law imposed by a state, which enables one to possess property or to
engage in some transaction or course of conduct or to compel some
other person to so engage or to refrain from some course of conduct
under certain circumstances, and for the infringement of which claim
the state provides a remedy in its courts of justice.
Act: is a bill which has passed through the various legislative steps required for it to
The child right act: (CRA) is a legal statements or document that incorporates all the
rights and responsibilities of children; consolidates all laws relating to
children into a single law; and specifies the duties and obligations of
government, parents and other authorities, organizations and bodies.
Governance: refers to “all processes of governing, whether undertaken by a
government, market or network, whether over a family, tribe, formal or
informal organization or territory and whether through laws, norms,
power or language
UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations Program
headquartered in New York City that provides long-term humanitarian
and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing
countries. It is one of the members of the United Nations Development
Group and its Executive Committee.
Nigeria: is located on the west coast of Africa. It is bounded on the east by the
Federal Republic of Cameroon, on the west by the People‟s Republic of
Benin, on the north by the Republic of Niger and on the south by
Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria covers an area totalling 356,669 square miles
or 923,768 square kilometres (African Development Bank Group,
2005), with a staggering population of 132 million people (US-based
Population Reference Bureau, 2005). Two seasons mark the Nigerian
weather. The dry season begins in October and ends in March, and the
rainy season commences in late March and ends in late September.
Because the country lies near the equator, it has equatorial or tropical
climate, with an average temperature of 320C in the south and more in
the north. Humidity is sometimes nearly 100%.
Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development, Abuja:- National Report
to follow up to 1990.
Ladan M.T., An Overview of State Obligations in respect of Children‟s Rights in
Nigeria. A paper presented at the National Stakeholders Forum on the passage
of the Child Rights Bill, 2003, at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja,
March 18, 2003, pp31-38
OlamideBakare 2013 Child labour: A threat to national development
UNICEF and FGN: (2001), Children‟s and Women‟s Rights in Nigeria: A wake up
Call-Situation Assessment and Analysis, pp 1-12.
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