A senator, Kabir Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central) tackled his female colleagues on Thursday asking them to take the issue of insurgency more seriously.
Mr Marafa said this while contributing to a motion to celebrate the 2018 Children’s Day by Binta Garba (APC, Adamawa) and eight other senators.
He argued that the female lawmakers and Nigerians have been quiet to the cries of the victims of insurgency in the north and other parts of the country. He said strangely, they were quick to protest a Senator, Ahmed Yerima’s marriage to an underage.
Mr Yerima had in 2009, married a 13 year old girl, an act which attracted condemnations from all over the country.
Leading discussions on the motion, Mrs Garba recognised the importance of developing the Nigerian child through the passage of legislations such as the Child Rights Act, 2003 and the Universal Basic Education Act, 2004 which aims at protecting the interests of children.
She also stressed that a proper system of education and good health care are indispensable towards making the Nigerian child relevant in the global scheme of things.
Mrs Garba decried the high rate of infant mortality in Nigeria which has risen to one million deaths per annum as a result of poor nutrition and poor medical facility.
In his contribution, Mr Marafa however accused the female lawmakers of being selective with the children ”they care for”. He urged them to help the women and children in Zamfara State for instance.
“I expect the women especially of this Senate to stand up shoulder to shoulder with women in Zamfara state. A situation was raised where a commissioner’s wife and her six children were kidnapped in their house and three days into the journey, nobody knows where she is. This catches the attention of the media and everybody because it is a commissioner’s wife. But the issue of kidnapping is a daily thing in Zamfara State today.
“There is an estimated 5000 victims of rape and we have said it in this chamber but up till now, the women have not stood up to say ‘enough is enough’ of this very bad incident.
“Whereas in the 6th assembly when my colleague and my leader, Senator Ahmed Yerima, fulfilled one of his religious rites by marrying a lady with the consent of her parents, almost the whole of this chamber was pulled upside down. That he married an underage, which is nobody’s business in anyway because her parents’ consent(ed) to the marriage and Yerima is a Muslim and he married the girl according to Muslim rites.
“But so much noise was made in this country to the extent that they staged a protest on the streets of Abuja. Today, their sisters are going through hell in Zamfara, most of them, victims of rape.
”There are about 10,000 widows and 20,000 orphans as we speak. I am celebrating you, the mothers of the children but unfortunately, you are selective in the choice of your children. You are talking of child rights; we in Zamfara are talking of child’s survival. I want to see you stand up to say the children of Zamfara have the right to survive because what we are not talking is schooling. There is humanitarian crisis in Zamfara,” he said.
He said he would not be surprised if the Senators from North-east are not in support, “because their own problem has been solved largely by the people of North-west”.
“They provided a commission for them, we listened to their problem but when it is our turn now, for them to reciprocate, the senate leader is looking at me, I don’t know him, the truth of the matter is that you have not done enough and I want him to skew the hand of the women in this chamber to see that justice is done to the children of Zamfara State,” he said.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki congratulated the Nigerian children and urged all the lawmakers to continue to hold on to their responsibilities to ensure that the children are loved and cared for.
“We’ve all seen the statistics that Nigeria accounts for 10 per cent of the total world infant mortality, total world maternal maternity. These are not figures we should be proud of; where one in four children get immunisation. So I believe as we celebrate them, let us take up the responsibility to improve the health of our children and I’m happy that with the 1 per cent that we have put for primary healthcare and with proper implementation, we can see full coverage of immunisation of our children.
“We also need to look at the UBEC law and see how we can create more years of free education because it is very important. I think these are the kind of gifts we can give our children.
”Thirdly, is the Child Rights Act which is yet to be passed in some states. I’ve engaged the speakers of some state houses of assembly and I appeal to some senators here to ensure that we pass child rights acts,” he said.
He urged his colleagues to ”support their words by actions”.
The Senate, thereafter, felicitated with the Federal government and the families of the Dapchi Schoolgirls that have been released. It urged the federal government to intensify efforts to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi Schoolgirl that is yet to be released.
The Senate resolved to urge the Federal Government to come up with a dedicated fund to assist the various ministries of social welfare in the states affected, ”with a view to setting a platform to educate and care for the children”.
It also resolved to urge all the senators to pledge support in cash or kind for the vulnerable children and orphans in Zamfara State.