The Sustainable Development Goals roadmap vision 2030 as contained in goal 16 is important in safeguarding the rights of the citizenry against every form of violence, exploitation, and trafficking which is often carried out against women and girl child.
Violence against women and girl child manifests in various ways which could be physical, sexual, economic, psychological, and emotional.
Violence in whichever form it manifests its ugly head, constitutes a grave infraction on the fundamental right of a person. It destroys the identity of a person and often leaves the victim with an indelible mark as a result of the experience. In Nigeria which is the focal point of this write up, violence often goes unreported as a result of some archaic cultural practices which permit such nefarious acts, lack of proper legislation on the subject matter, and absence of efficient enforcement mechanism of the existing laws (where they exist) are some of the major reasons why violence is fast spreading like a wild fire in Nigeria. Violence can be identified in the following acts:
vi. Forceful administering drug/alcohol use
vii. Assault with a weapon.
ix. Trafficking for sexual exploitation
x. Verbal and non-verbal abuse.
xi. Assault with a deadly weapon
xii. Chemical attacks
Violence also happens within families which could be between husband and wife, parents and children and within societies. The worst form of violence as presently been experienced in Nigeria is domestic violence. This form of violence is the most brutal as many times the victims despite the obvious signs of violence and actual violence on them, stay in the relationship due to societal perception of a single parenthood as been promiscuous.
Physical violence may or may not result in an injury that requires medical attention. Physical violence may also result in death of a victim.
The focus of this project is to end all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation, trafficking and torture especially against women and girl child.
The project also focuses on promoting the rule of law as a lawless society cannot guaranty safety of its citizens. It is trite that Nigeria as a country has laws covering most aspect of human interactions but enforcement of our laws has often been the problem. Our laws are regarded as the proverbial toothless dog that can bark without any commensurate biting ability which is required to deter offenders and reduce the rising rate of social vices within the society. Access to justice is also another issue which requires urgent attention if Nigeria is to attain her goals and objectives for a better Nigeria.
Nigeria is a signatory to many treaties, conventions and declarations both at the continental stage and global stage. This appears to be a step in the right direction which must be commended, but of what use is an international instrument which has no force of law in Nigeria. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria being the supreme law of the land places a condition on the international instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory that unless and until such international instruments are domesticated through local legislation they would not be recognised by our courts i.e. they lack the force of law in Nigerian courts. This copious provision of the Constitution has hindered access to justice as most of the instruments which were geared towards making government responsible and responsive to the yearnings of the citizens through people-centred policies and purposeful leadership have been rendered redundant and worthless.
Provision of legal services to the indigent members of the society is also lacking. A concerted effort should be made towards provision of legal services for those who cannot readily afford the services of a legal practitioner. Access to justice also entails access to legal representation and where government fails to guaranty this right, anarchy and jungle-justice would be the order of the day.
Corruption is the greatest threat to every modern society. Corruption constitutes a serious problem bedevilling Nigeria. It entrenches impunity and encourages nepotism. It breeds anarchy, occasions social vices and enthrones unemployment. Funds that were appropriated to alleviate the sufferings of the citizenry through provision of basic amenities are been looted by government officials. Projects which could have improved the living conditions of the people like access to good roads, affordable health care, employment opportunities, well-equipped security agencies, portable water, and qualitative education have been rendered impossible. The effect of corruption as a result of unbridled stealing and diversion of public funds for personal aggrandisement is unimaginable. The fight against corruption has also been impeded by lack of political will of those in position of authority who primarily ought to champion the course. Corruption cannot be fought wholeheartedly without the family not playing a key role. It is trite that charity begins at home as socialisation of a child is formed right from the home. The need to also consider the role of religious and educational institutions in the fight against corruption cannot be over-emphasised. Accountability to the people should be encouraged at all levels of governance. An effective, accountable and transparent institution at all levels is required to drive the fight against corruption to a logical conclusion. Eradicating corruption may be a tough call but reducing it to the barest minimum is attainable with purposeful and decisive leadership. Hence, leaders should be accountable to the people they swore to serve as it is essential in a democracy where report of stewardship is vital.
The Freedom of Information Act was passed in 2011 but its applicability depends on domestication by the State Assembly. Only few States have domesticated the Freedom of Information Law while many including Lagos State have deliberately refused to consider the law which ordinarily was so bridge the information gap between leaders and followers. Access to information from the leaders to the followers must be encouraged. The more Nigerians are carried along in governance through relevant information sharing, the better it is on the long run for the country.
Insecurity has reached an all time peak due to illicit flow of funds, arms, and ammunition in the country. Loads of arms and ammunitions imported into the country were intercepted by the Nigeria Customs Service last year. The fact that lives are been cut down in their prime by unscrupulous elements is indisputable due to the proliferations of arms by persons not legally permitted to wield such sophisticated weapons. The rising rate of insecurity has crippled economic activities in most parts of the country as currently been experienced in some parts of the country. Insecurity has also occasioned migration of people from one area to another thereby creating problem of insecurity because the more concentrated people are in a geographical location, the greater the rate of social vices in that location. There is need to synergise with the relevant law enforcement agencies through information sharing to effectively combat insecurity in whichever form it appears.
In furtherance of the aforementioned issues affecting the realisation of sustainable development goals of Nigeria, we intend to embark on the following programmes:
1. Ensuring prompt domestication of all international treaties, conventions, and declarations which will help in the fight against violence and other crimes bedevilling the human capita development of Nigeria.
2. Strengthening our porous borders (both land and sea) to check the inflow of illicit arms and ammunitions by funding and providing the Nigeria Customs Service with the essential gadgets and training to combat this nefarious activities which will be achieved through media advocacy and letters to the respective authorities.
3. Embarking on sensitization outreaches, seminars, and town hall meetings with the relevant stakeholders in the society on the evils associated with corruption and ways of effectively combating it in collaboration with the Network of Universities Legal Aid Institutions (Law Clinics).
4. Access to justice will also be canvassed in collaboration with the Office of Public Defender (OPD), Legal Aid Council, and Law Clinics all over the country.
5. Access to information through accountability and transparent institutions will also be supported by ensuring that government revenue and expenditure are made available to the public at all times by liaising with the relevant government ministries and departments.
6. Domestication of the Freedom of Information Act at the State level and strict compliance with the provisions at all levels of government will be supported vigorously.
7. Abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence should be discouraged through the strict implementation of the existing laws (where available) or proper legislation (where not available) to stem the rising spate of human right abuses. Laws are not meant to be made alone but implemented to achieve the principal reason for its enactment. A collaborative effort with the relevant agencies like Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Police, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), and Nigeria Immigration Service shall be prioritised.
8. Birth registration of Nigerians in every part of the country will also be given special attention by collaborating with the National Population Commission and other relevant agencies in the sector in order to meet the 2030 goals on birth registration of all Nigerians.
9. Legislations imposing penalties on parents who fail to take birth registration of the children seriously would also be canvassed for us to have an accurate data of Nigerians for developmental programmes.
10. Discrimination in enforcement of the laws due to social status, race, gender, political, religious and ethnic affiliation should be discouraged as it engenders violence, strife and national disintegration. Laws should be a respecter of nobody except those exempted from the implementation of the law by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue of the office they occupy as what is sauce for the good should equally apply to the gander.
The above-listed steps will be considered in the implementation of goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 as applicable to Nigeria.