Columnist: Children’s day: Beyond ordinary celebration

- in World News


Children are the asset of any nation, the future of a country and the hope of its tomorrow .

Nation prospers and progresses if it is able to develop the hidden potential lying untapped in her children.

In Nigeria, children make up a good percentage of the population.

According to World Health Organization (W.H.O) there are 100,000 live births against 814 deaths, hence, the need to give much attention to their all-round development and a day like children’s day is a step forward toward this direction.

The genesis of children’s day, dates back in Geneva in 1925, when 54 representatives from different countries gathered together in Geneva, Switzerland to convene the world conference for the wellbeing of children during which Geneva declaration protecting children was passed.

The proclamation made a strong appeal for the spiritual needs of children, relief for children in poverty, prevention of child labor, reassessing the way that children are educated and the other issues related to the welfare of children around the world.

May 27, is dedicated and set aside to celebrate children, it is usually a work free day for the primary and secondary school children traditionally decked out in their uniforms for competitive march past in open fields or stadium with top government officials on ground to acknowledge their salute as well as provide a platform for interactions and understanding among them.

The day teaches several important values. It is a call to protect little ones from all harm and save them from the negative impact of industrialization, digitalisation, industrialization, commercialization and gross materialism at large.

Today, many children are thrown open to the anomalies of the society and exposed to the negative side of the internet such as blind dates, pornography sites, instagram, facebook to mention but a few.

Also they are let out to the evils of drug, alcohol, hard labor, early marriage abuse, and violence among others.

It is quite disheartening that Nigeria remains one of the countries with the highest number of school drop outs roaming the streets.

In some parts of the country they have taken alms to be a profession while they ought to be in school or learning a particular trade.

In the south-east, south- south, they are mostly found on the streets hawking usually a variety of petty items.

It is instructive to note that children have come under additional pressures as a result of upsurge of violence, especially the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East which has claimed and uprooted millions of people from their homes.

A recent report by the United Nations Refugee Agency states that a sharp increase in women and children being use as human bombs by Boko Haram .

In 2017 the use of children in attacks was up four times over the previous year.

However, Boko Haram remains a substantial threat and has conducted a string of violent attacks so far in 2018, including the high profile kidnapping and subsequent release of Chibok and Dapchi girls.

This insurgency has destroyed so many of them in three core conflicts states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

Many of these children have been living in internally displaced camps(IDP’s) in many parts of the country and have been out of school for upward of three years or even more which has not prevented further attacks on them due to poor security.

Another red flag is the massive killings by the Fulani herdsmen which needs to be addressed as urgent, as thousands of children have become orphans and many expelled from their homes.

According to daily post Executive Secretary State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) gave a staggering statistics of children numbering 10,000 have been forced out of school, became orphans, displaced from their homes while death toll has been on the increase.

Children have lent themselves to agents of terror in Northern Nigeria by becoming suicide bombers. This is a stern warning of how not to be neglect on cultural, religious ,or moral values as this can come back to haunt the society.

The alarming rate of child labor remains a major source of concern in Nigeria, in spite legislative measures.

Child labor is defined as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and deprives them of opportunities for schooling and development.

According to International Labor Organization, the number of working children under the age of 14 is alarming and estimated at 15million. The high level of diverse and tedious jobs that children execute in dangerous circumstances is worrisome.

Therefore, beyond the traditional and conventional way of commemorating the day, government should look inward and do much more, than just mere match past; they should embark on empowerment programmes that will resonate in the minds of the children.

Such programmes should include vocational training; skill acquisition and providing qualitative and affordable education if not totally free at all government levels (Federal and State).

As part of broader efforts towards durable solution to abolishing child labor, implementing various welfare programmes must be done with full transparency and honesty, so that all eligible ones get benefits.

Happy Children’s day!!!

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