Nigeria Celebrates Children with Pomp

BY: Isaac Yeboah

In thousands, they filed out  Monday to various fun spots and stadia to savour their day. They were the guests of top political office holders, including President Goodluck Jonathan  and governors who hosted them as part of their state duties for the day.

As part of the celebration of the Children’s Day, parades were held in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and many state capitals, where the children also listened to speeches from Jonathan and the governors on efforts being made to give them a better life.

In his speech, Jonathan assured the children that the federal government would establish a child helpline to protect their rights.

The president, represented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala  Mohammed, remarked that the toll-free helpline would enable the children to promptly report any case of abuse to the appropriate authorities.
“The project is to enable children in any kind of crises to call a toll free number to find help.

“I therefore urge parents/families to inculcate decent moral values in their children and to provide adequate protection for them to safeguard our future,” he said.

In line with section 13 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003, the president noted that Nigeria had shown keen commitment to promote and protect the rights of children to basic health.

“Section 13 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003 provides for the right of the child to good health and health care services, and impose this duty on all levels of government and other stakeholders responsible for health care and welfare of the child,” he added.

Jonathan listed efforts by his administration to give the children better future to include its determination to ensure the completion of the National Children’s Resource Centre by 2014 and setting aside fund for the establishment of the National Model Child Development Centre in Abuja to provide vocational skills for almajiris, street children and those out of school.

In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, restated the commitment of his administration to well-being of the children.

He said the massive investment of his government in free education, free health services, sports, among others, were geared towards ensuring total child development in the state.

Amosun, speaking at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta during the celebration of the Children's Day, urged parents and governments to see the annual event as an avenue to review the needs and aspirations of children and make projections for the future.

His wife, Olufunso, seized the opportunity of the celebration to promote the Green Education for the Youth (GEFTY) initiative among the children with the aim of equipping them with the tools of green education to enable them nurture the environment for their future benefits.

She advised children and youths to support and promote her campaign for the going green initiative through tree planting to ensure a sustainable and healthy environment.

At the celebration in Lagos State, the Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), urged students to stay away from drug addiction and shun cultism, noting that such practices could cut short their dream.

The governor who gave the warning after inspecting the  parade at the Police College, Ikeja also admonished the children  to remain focused in their studies and avoid distractions.

Fashola advised the children to join Boys’ Scout, Red Cross, Traffic Club, Power Kids Clubs, saying that government has endorsed and empowered these clubs to function in the state.

The governor while commending the performance of students in last year's West African Examination Council (WAEC) results urged them to strive hard to better the overall performance recorded in the state.

Fashola’s counterpart in Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, assured the people that his administration would continue to accord high priority to the welfare and development of children.

Fayemi, who gave the assurance in Ado-Ekiti during the Children’s Day celebration, said the government would also create an environment in which every child has healthy and safe childhood.

“We must all strive to ensure that children’s rights are respected, promoted and protected.  My administration would continue to take concrete actions in ensuring that we live up to our obligations in promoting the well-being of our children, including those children who for one reason or the other are vulnerable”, he added.

The governor appealed to parents, guardians, faith-based organisations, the civil society and other stakeholders to join hands with government in shaping the future of the children.

In Oyo State, the Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, summoned heads of 15 out of the schools that participated in the march-past to mark this year’s Children’s Day celebrations to his office for improper dressing of their pupils.

The governor, while speaking shortly after taking the salute at the march-past,  indicted the headship of the schools for the appearance of the pupils, which he said was below standard.

Ajimobi said he took particular notice of the affected schools, which comprised 11 nursery/primary schools and four secondary schools, during the march-past, saying that the dressing of the pupils was unacceptable.

Schoolchildren from both the public and private schools in the 31 local government areas of Akwa Ibom State  converged on the Uyo Township Stadium to take part in the Children’s Day celebration.

The Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, after observing a colourful march-past, stressed the need for government to invest heavily for the well-being of children whom he described as the backbone, hope and future of the country.

Akpabio, represented by his deputy, Mrs. Valeria Ebe, urged that government policies, legislation and budget should be children friendly.

His administration, the governor said, would constantly mobilise resources towards addressing the needs of the children.

In celebrating the occasion in Benin City, the Edo State capital, the  Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, called on voluntary organisations, traditional and religious institutions as well as corporate bodies to invest in the upbringing of children, especially in the environment where the children learn and play.

Oshiomhole who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu, said everyone had a collective responsibility to bringing up children to be good, productive and law-abiding citizens.

He explained  that the state government had made efforts to achieve this through its developmental projects such as renovation of schools,  provision of infrastructure and sports development, among other activities aimed at preparing the platform for parents and children to be part of the sustainable growth and development of the state.

The governor however  warned  pupils against wanton destruction of school property as the state government would no longer tolerate a situation whereby schoolchildren destroy public property during a protest.