Story By: MUSTAPHA Y. OLATUNJI
The familiar cry of “cold pure water” or “buy your groundnut”and all sort is not all that is strange to a commuter on the street of Lagos and Nigeria.
The street is characterised by various kind of products being hawked by innocent looking young children. This has come to be the norm. The authorities looked the other way, well-meaning Nigerians and average Nigerians proudly and openly patronised these innocent lads without any empathy; it’s the norm after all. The law enforcers are nothing to write home about too, they have sold their official calling and constitutional power for 50naira and the likes from so called thugs at the expense of safe guarding the lives of innocent citizens.
The above begged the questions of what has happened to the Childs Rights Act of 2003 which gives enormous right to the Nigerian child among which are:
a. The right to compulsory basic education and subsequently, opportunities for higher education;
b. Rights to recreational activities and rest;
c. Rights to good food, health, protection from illness and proper medical care for survival from various diseases;
d. Rights against indecent and inhuman treatment through sexual exploitation, drug abuse, child trafficking, child labour, torture, maltreatment and neglect, tribal marks etc.;
e. Rights to protection from any act that interferes with his/her privacy, honour and reputation;
f. Rights to life, survival and development.
Are these rights not enough to ensure the safety of the Nigerian Child? The innocent children’s conditions are a result of what our society has turned into. We place less value on lives and humanity while paying more attention on accumulation of wealth and vain gains. We have lost morality for materialism. We will do anything to get what we want but we can’t do everything to save the lives of the common.
Are we going to blame government for this precarious situation? What about our own lackadaisical attitude and nonchalant behaviour towards one another? Can we take an honest look at ourselves and ask some fundamental question?. Whose right is it really to protect the child? Should we fail ourselves because government has failed us?
No nation will experience development if the rights of its children cannot be guaranteed and protected. These children will no doubt grow up to be the future of the nation. What then would their seed yield?
A fruitful yield or a kwashiorkor growth?. Would they ever have a normal adult life when it is so glaring what their childhood state was?
The situation is so gory when statistics has shown that 12 million children of school age in Nigeria are out of school. Should we not then question the CRA (2003)? Children are the future of any society and therefore must be nurtured and lavished with lots of love, care, affection, attention they can get.
The CRA (2003) has yet to be adopted by all states of the federation and no one or little persons seems to be advocating for this. Children are made to go through all sort of abuse on daily basis as a result of their rights not being protected and safe guarded.
A child that is out of school would be useful for all kinds ranging from labour, ritual, thuggery and the likes. These children might not get a second chance once they are on the street and those that are lucky enough to be presented with a second chance often go through traumatic experience. Every Nigerian child should be everybody’s child. They should be important to us and they don’t have to be ours or from our family. They just need a little care, a little smile, patience, respect, endurance, tolerance. They are like us because we passed through their stage. If only we can give them the attention they deserve, then they would make us proud in the future.
Let us all make it a point of duty to care and love every child we come in contact with. Let us voice out any case of child abuse we witnessed. Let us make it our responsibility to see that every Childs rights is protected. Let us say no to child abuse of any kind.