The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that about 35,031,047 under five years old Nigerian children are faceless and non-existent.
This they say is because this number of children do not have their births registered and thereby not recognized by the Federal Government.
According to them, the information is gathered from the RapidSMS information tracking tool, a data collection website that collects information of birth registration through SMS or Text Messages, from mobile users.
This tracking tool allows real time tracking of local and regional birth registration activities in 774 LGA’s across the country/nationwide.
Speaking at a two day media campaign for birth registration in Lagos, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Sharon Oladiji stated that RapidSMS allows data to be collected in real time to enable LGA, State, Federal and partners to collect, analyze, and react to data more quickly.
According to RapidSMS dashboard only 8% of under 5 children are currently registered in Nigeria, presently on the RapidSMS dashboard, 3,046,178 under 5 children have been registered leaving out about 92% of unregistered births which when calculated sums to 35,031,047.
Statistics shows that the number of children under 5 in Nigeria is projected to increase from 32 million in 2015 to 58 million by 2050.
It states that Only 44 per cent of Africa’s births are registered, leaving an estimated 85 million children under 5 unregistered, 70% of children in Nigeria still do not have their births registered. (Source: NDHS 2013).
Oladiji stated,” For a child without birth certificate, the record is not with the National Population Commission register and it will be difficult to plan for such, so when we depend on age affidavit, when there is a commission set up by the constitution to register children, we are doing a lot of deservive to that generation of children.”
UNICEF Communication specialist Geoffrey Njoku said that since data states that Nigeria births seven million children every year, the country must ensure it registers seven million children and not less.
His words, “It is a right, according to the convention and rights of a child, a child must have a legal identity that makes him or her a Nigerian, you have to have an identity so that in the system you will not be an unknown quantity, a faceless human being? That is why we work on the rights of a child and the right to an identity is one of the rights.
“We will continue fighting until every Nigerian child is registered, it is going to be a continuous and permanent registration that means as you have children, you register them. Data says we have 7m children every year in Nigeria, that means every year we must work to register 7m children.
“I can talk about people not being aware of birth registration, people not having the awareness of the importance of birth registration and on their own inadvertently making their children faceless and non existent is a lot of ignorance that we need to create awareness for. We need to start with public awareness and see how it goes, when someone does not know the benefit of something, it is easier for them to not adhere to it.”