The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, has thrown the Federal Government’s might behind the campaign to end child marriage. He was emphatic, as he gave this assurance at the launch of the strategy document and the campaign to end Child Marriage, on November 29, 2016, at Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton in Abuja.
“I hope that my presence here today underscores the fact that, as far as the Federal Government is concerned, the campaign is not just for Ministry of Women Affairs alone. It is a task for every Department of Government, our position is clear, NO CHILD MARRIAGE”, according to Prof. Osinbajo.
Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo stated that there is evidence that there is a positive correlation between child marriage and poverty. According to him, “there is unassailable proof in the vast majority of cases, that early marriage affects the physical, mental and psychological health of a child bride; many end up with VVF and other ailments”. Many of them are unable to live normal and fulfilled life when they have been forcefully robbed of their youth.
Acknowledging a drama-sketch of “the Children Parliament” staged at the event, Prof. Osinbajo, said the case against child marriage was clear and compelling and so well depicted by the children Parliament. To buttress this statement, he further stated that, “there is evidence of a positive correlation between illiteracy, the promotion of early marriage, poverty and poor health”.
Furthermore he said Nigeria had sometime in 2014 joined the campaign to end child marriage, along with some other African States across Africa. He further noted that, that campaign was largely successful and stated that, this initiative is in support of the campaign.
The Vice President also noted that Nigeria has made fairly positive advances, in the struggle to end child marriage, especially as it had assented to the child rights act, which is one of the most progressive pieces of legislation on the subject in Africa.
He further appealed to individuals who believe that, for one reason or the other, child marriage is right. In his words, “the battle is now for the minds of men and women, who for one reason or the other still believe that child marriage is right; unfortunately their views cannot be ignored or waved aside, they must be understood and rebutted by the overwhelming case for the healthy, happy and prosperous future of girls and the Nation that suffers the loss of their talents and skills”.
According to him “laws and institutions are only as effective as what societal beliefs and customs allow; good laws or right rules especially on societal matters largely depends on societal consensus or buy-in otherwise the laws will not be enforced or will only be enforced halfheartedly”.
He therefore implored the members of the congregation that as a Nation, Nigerians must persuade by constant advocacy, moral suasion and consistently make the case for end of child marriage, until the last vestiges of this practice dies.
He commended the States that have already established schools and centres for continuing education for women and girls, especially for those who have had their educational pursuit interrupted. He urged the other States that are yet to imbibe this idea, to give it consideration “regardless of the reasons why girls are not in school, it is our responsibility as leaders to ensure that opportunities are available for them to have a re-start” the Vice President said.
Prof. Osinbajo, after declaring the Launch of the campaign to end Child Marriage and the Strategy documents open, he commended the Minister for Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Alhassan and her team at the Ministry, for the creativity, commitment and resourcefulness they brought to bear on the initiative.
Present at the event were, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs. Ayo Adesugba, who represented the Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Women Affairs, Ms. Phylis Nwokedi, High Commissioner of Canada, His Excellency Christopher Thornley, Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development, Emir of Shonga, representative of the view of Islam, Dr. Mustapha Hussain and the representative of the view of Christianity, Bishop Adegbite among others.