We gather together under the tree listening to stories or words of wisdom from the elderly ones without any fear; we ran to streams or visit friends freely; we role play detectives, family roles and give ourselves titles when we were growing up. As children, we care for each other and love our communities. Recalling this, I realized that growing up in those days was indeed a great experience compared with this deteriorating times.
The international day of the African Child is to honor those who were either killed or participated in the Soweto Uprising of 1976 and those courageous to march for their right to education. No doubt that education is the sure foundation and bedrock of development for any nation. Today as we commemorate the 2020 day of the African Child amidst the COVID 19, we remember that at least 90% of learners which is majorly children and youths around the world have stayed out of school for more than 8 weeks. The global scourge has given rise to child labour, sexual exploitation and as the number of deaths increase, more children will be orphaned and vulnerable.
It’s disheartening that in the midst of this uncertainties Nigeria government slashed the budget for education and basic health in favour of the refurbishment of senate building. Despite having more than 10 million out of school children prior to the pandemic. We have seen the promotion of tribalism, religious bigotry and divisiveness by some politicians which sows negative seeds in our upcoming generation.
NACTAL members across the thirty-six states of Nigeria on the occasion of this year’s commemoration with the theme ‘Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa’ frowns at this disdain position of our government towards our education, basic health especially in relation to children’s health, delay justice and inadequate child friendly systems.
It therefore calls on the government to have a quick rethink and double its effort in the education of our upcoming generation. Equip our children to be entrepreneurs that can compete in the international space and be relevant to meet the yearnings of tomorrow in place of the celebrations around certificates and white collar jobs.
We enjoin the government to reconsider its priorities and pay attention to the issues of justice for children who have been molested or raped and facing derogatory situations. It can create child friendly space to cater for orphaned and vulnerable children during and after this pandemic.
We call on all irrespective of status, religious or political affiliation to support our children and build the next generation of patriots who will believe in the national togetherness not in stealing of our common wealth for selfish benefit. The next generation who will stand against injustice, corruption and oppression not in covering of rapist, kidnappers and terrorist. Let us promote the Africa values, norms and traditions which encourage integrity, hard work, patriotism and commitment both to each other and our nation, not enslaving some children because they are less privileged through child trafficking, child abuse, amongst other ills.
Let us all teach our male children to use their strength to protect the girl-child and not to attack or oppress them in the name of rape, sexual abuse, bully and domestic violence.
Let us give the girl-child the right space to exhibit and fulfil their God given potential and not leave them as objects to be toiled with.
May we use the opportunity of this year’s commemoration of the Day of Africa child to gaze into the future and consider options for a greater future through our children.
Happy commemoration to all black, beautiful and intelligent children of Africa.
Mr. Emmanuel Adaramola,
NACTAL National President