UFUK Dialogue: Advancing The Rights Of Children And Family In Nigeria, By Joshua Ocheja


With 18 international experts on family and children’s rights, from 18 different countries, an International Not-for-Profit Organisation, UFUK Dialogue Initiative had lent her voice to promoting rights and privileges of children in Nigeria, when it organized a 2-day International Conference on Children’s Rights and Family in Abuja-Nigeria.

Even though children all over the world are seen as the leaders of tomorrow, millions of them across the world suffer, treated with reckless abandon and impunity, or sold into child slavery. The need to ensure these future leaders are protected and catered for, the United Nations General Assembly on the 20th of November 1989, adopted the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC). Similarly, the then OAU Assembly of Heads of States and Government adopted the African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in July 1990. And Nigeria ratified both Conventions in 1991 and 2000 respectively.

The International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) defines a child as “a person below the age of 18, and urges all governments to increase the level of protection for all children under the 18, regardless of their race, religion, or abilities, whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from”

“It’s in line with these proclamations and to further advance the rights and privileges of children in Nigeria, that UFUK Dialogue in collaboration with Arigatou International Prayer and Action for Children, the African Union (AU) and the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) organized the 4th International Family Conference on Children’s Rights and Family in Nigeria,” says Mr. Kamil Kemanchi, the president of UFUK Dialogue Initiative. “UFUK Dialogue intends to open the ground for an academic discussion for the full realization of the rights and capabilities of children” he further added.

The well-attended conference which held at the main auditorium of the Nile University of Nigeria had representations from the government, private sector, religious organizations, civil society organizations, students, parents, and guardians.  Some of those in attendance were the Wife of the President who was represented by the wife of the Governor of Nasarawa State, Hajia Mairo Al-Makura, harped on the need for children to be accorded their pride of place in the society. “This conference is well-intended and highly useful. We all know that the family is the first place of contact for children and whatever they become is always a product of the influence of family” she stated.

There was also representation from the wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki., Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs Princess Adejoke Orelope was represented by the Deputy Director/ Desk Officer (Youth) Mrs. Olaopa, O.M. and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hajia Khadija Bukar Ibrahim was represented by the Director General of Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) Prof. Oshita O. Oshita

Senator Binta Masi Garba Chairman Senate Committee on women affairs who was in attendance, in her remark, stated that, “it is essential that a child must be helped, supported and protected against labour exploitation, violence, kidnapping, ill-treatment, molestation, and we all have a role to play” she further averred that parents, guardians, the community and religious institutions must play a part in an attempt to revive the communal upbringing of our children”

The organizers of the event, UFUK Dialogue Initiative agrees less. Mrs. Ayse Yigit, the coordinator of women affairs of UFUK Dialogue is of the opinion that UFUK Dialogue understands the role of the community and family in the lives of children, that is why it brought under one roof 18 international experts on children and family to the International Conference on Children’s rights and family, to provide intellectual answers to some of the burning issues that concern children, and the various factors inhibiting their progress in the society.

“UFUK Dialogue has been in the forefront of promoting peaceful co-existence among Nigerians. This year, we decided to do something different, which is looking at the family and family value system” she stated.

UFUK Dialogue Initiative was founded in 2011 in Nigeria with the mission to foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue, stimulate thinking and exchange of opinions on supporting and fostering democracy and peace all over the world and to provide a common platform for education and information exchange.

Also in attendance at the conference were representatives of the Sultan of Sokoto, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, as well as the representative of Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah. The speakers at the event were Mr. Ignacio Socoas, director of International Relations of the International Federation of Family Development, Mr. Iyad Dweika, co-founder of Ramallah Centre for Human Rights Studies and Mr. Daniel Binge, a lecturer at the Federal College of Education, Pankshin, Plateau State.

Mr. Ignacio Socias in his presentation titled Children and Youth Well-Being, is of the opinion that effective measures are needed to support the psychological well-being of children and youth with sensitivity to family situations. “the world is still falling short in its promise and commitment to ensure the right to a safe childhood.”

Other speakers at the conference are Ms. Asma Shadid Kazi, an assistant professor at the Lahore College for Women. She delivered a remarkable paper on Children’s Education.  Another speaker at the event was Yusuf Ozdemir, adjunct professor of education at the Meviana Rumi University; Turkey gave a paper titled “Home Visit’s Effect on Child’s Behavior and Academic Improvement.”

“the status of the child at home and the communication typeset by the parents are two of the major factors that affect the child’s success. In a family, centered socialization process, children gain more skills and manners from which they draw behaviors and patterns that they must pursue. Therefore, it is crucial that family lives support school lives.”

Professor Tawanda Runhare of the department of educational foundations of the University of Venda, South Africa, delivered a paper on the traditional child rearing beliefs and parenting styles and the implication on human developmental needs. “poor parental upbringing, especially erratic parental discipline; parental rejection or low parental involvement in the life of the child can be predictors of social maladjustment or anti-social behavior of the child in the future.”

The International Family Conference is a biennial international academic conference which is organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), which holds general consultative status at UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Its aim is to stimulate interdisciplinary and cross-national collaborations and approach to various family issues.

“at JWF, we think sharing best practices from all over the world and expanding on those best examples for family policies is crucial to keep the family in the core of women empowerment and human rights discussions,” says Nuray Yurt, the vice president of JWF. “I would like to express gratitude to UFUK Dialogue Initiative and Nigeria for hosting the 2016 International Family Conference” she added.

The event also pulled together dignitaries from other countries, and they include; The Minister of Civic Education, Culture & Community Development in Malawi, Dr. Annie Patricia Kaliati MP, the Ghana High Commissioner to Nigeria, Williams Azumah Awinador Kanyirige, The Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, His Excellency Miguelangel Della Vecchia, and The Ambassador of Ecuador, who was represented by the Deputy Head  of Mission, Mr. Jaime Campas.

Also in attendance, were His Royal Highness Dr. Olusegun Salau Oba Yoruba of FCT Abuja, His Royal Highness EZE Dr. Nwosu Ibe Igbo Abuja, His Royal Highness Alhaji Umaru Mohammed Sarki Hausa Abuja, The Vice Chancellor of Ndjamena University Chad Prof. Ali A. Ifaggar, Programme Manager of Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) Dr. Ukoha Ukiwo, The Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission Prof.. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, and the Chairman of First Surat Group of Companies., Mr. Hikmet Coban.

Other speakers at the conference included Muhammad Obaidullah, an assistant professor of Islamic studies at Manarat International University, Bangladesh, Henelito Jr Sevilla, adjunct professor and associate dean for administration and public affairs at the University of the Philippines Asian center. And Alexander Schuster, an Adjutant Professor and Lecturer in Law at the University of Trento. He is also the European coordinator of the EU co-funded project “Rights on the Move-Rainbow families in Europe.

Reverend Hans Ucko, the co-chair of the Council for Prayer and Action for Children New York, in his presentation “The Family and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, emphasised on how the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) underscores the important role of the family in raising the child and in respecting and protecting children’s rights”.

He further harped on the roles and duties of the government in supporting the family, and the potential role of religious leaders and faith communities as advocates for children’s rights.

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