Overcoming low birth registration in Bauchi
By Patience Michael, Bauchi
Aliyu Abdullahi is happy to have obtained birth registration certificate for his children in Toro town, Bauchi State Nigeria during the house-to-house birth registration.
The four children of Abddullahi, Suwaiba, Aminat, Saratu and Yahaya, were among over 700,000 children under the age of five targeted under the birth registration exercise.
"I have not heard about the birth certificate until now. They told me it's an important document that will give my children identity because my children lack identity without acquiring birth certificate," says Abdllahi.
Abdullahi, a father of 10 said, " I was told to laminate the certificates and keep them for my children for future purpose as they will need it for school registration.”
The 10 days birth registration was conducted by EU-UNICEF in collaboration with National Population Commission (NPC) and Bauchi State governement.
According to UNICEF report, “Only six percent of under five children acquired birth certificate in Bauchi State.
Birth registration is the first step towards recognizing a child’s inalienable right as a human being.
“In Nigeria, about 70 percent of the five million children born annually in Nigeria are not being registered at birth. They have no birth certificate and in legal terms, they do not exist. Their right to an identity, name and nationality is denied and their access to basic services is threatened." Abdullahi said that the remaining of his children would be taken to National Population Commission office to obtain birth certificate.
His words: "I was told that the exercise was meant for children under five so my elderly children were asked to come to NPC office for their registration because they are above five years old".
The Village head of Shira and Toro LGA, Shehu Mohammed Yana, and Inuwa Ahmed Toro commended EU-UNICEF and government for the birth registration .
The traditional rulers, who pledged their support for the success of the exercise, urged the authorities concerned to sustain the exercise in all the 20 LGAs of the state to ensure that all children are registered.
They also assured to embark on continuous sensitization exercise in their various wards on the importance of birth registration. "We have been informing our people in the mosque during prayer and we are happy for their cooperation and we promised to continue sensitizing them to register their children.”
Hadiza Sani , a resident of Shira, who registers her 7 months old baby, Aisah Shehu, during the exercise said though she delivered her baby in the maternity, she was not given the birth certificate.
She said, "When I gave birth to Aisah who is my first child, I was not aware that I would collect birth certificate for her until the NPC official came to our house demanding we register our children to enable the government plan for their education and other needs.”
In Toro LG, about 35,000 children are targeted to be registered during the exercise while Shira targets 30,000 children under the ages of 5.
National Population Commission (NPC) Comproller in Toro LGA, Adamu Musa Tilde, described the exercise as a huge success following the prompt response of parents registering their children and wards.
He said that about 185 ad hoc staff had been deployed to all the 17 wards in 3 discreet area of Toro LG which are Toro, Lame and Jama'a for the registration. "Our staff are on the field conducting the exercise and the feed back is encouraging," he said.