Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has asked political leaders, especially Northern governors, to join the campaign against child marriage by creating educate opportunities for the girl child instead of rushing them into early marriage.
Mr Ortom made the call in Makurdi, the Benue state capital at a meeting organised by the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, to mobilise support for sound educational and economic base for women in the state.
The Minister, who sought Governor Ortom’s support against child marriage said that the Federal Government had prepared a 1.6 billion Naira empowerment fund for women in 2017.
She also told the women at the gathering that 40 women had been trained in key areas of trade.
She encouraged them to be prudent with the fund, to enable the government increase the allocation subsequently.
Child marriage has assumed alarming rate in Nigeria, particularly in Northern Nigeria where the practice created national outcry in Katsina State recently.
The campaign against child marriage and women empowerment enjoys massive support in Benue, but it remains to be seen if the support will spread across the entire Northern Nigeria, where child marriage practice is high.
Deadline For Child Marriage
In November, the Canadian government appealed to the Nigerian government to come out with concrete plans to end what it described as huge burden of child bride on Nigeria.
Canadian High Commissioner, Mr Christopher Thornley, made the appeal at a meeting held to discuss more efforts needed to end child marriage.
According to him, two in every five girls in Africa are given in marriage before they attain age 19 and Nigeria has the highest record of such marriages.
“In Africa, two out of five girls are married before the age of 19. In Nigeria, I’m sorry to say this, but I’m also very heartened that we see people here, like yourselves, who are addressing the issue.
“In Nigeria there are more child brides than in any other country. Part of that is that Nigeria is such a huge country. Absolutely the numbers will be high, but there are massive numbers of young girls being married in this country as children,” he told a gathering of government officials, representatives of different organisations and right activists.
After that appeal, the Nigerian government launched a campaign to protect the girl child, setting a deadline to end child marriage.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo explained that all departments and agencies would be made to ensure compliance as the country has set a 2030 target to totally end child marriage.
The campaign, which is launched alongside 15 other African Union member countries, is to highlight the physical, mental and social effects of marrying a girl before the age of 18.