On Friday, October 28, 2011, I was a guest of the Lagos State Ministry of Youth, Sports and Social Development at its Family Value Townhall Meeting held at Adeyemi Bero Hall. It was an attempt by the Lagos State government to pay needed attention to building healthy families in the state.
It is an established fact that the family is the foundation of any meaningful society. The family is the reflection of the society. I was at the programme to discuss Family Values and Child’s Rights.
It gladdens my heart that major stakeholders from the government, private sector, social service sector, the private and public school system were not only on ground to learn but to also contribute their quota through their goodwill messages. I believe with this kind of efforts and related one, the dignity of the family unit will be established and entrenched in Lagos State.
I proceed today to discuss the 30th Human Hindrance. Please follow me closely.
30. The passive professionals: These ones do not see themselves as social service providers, who must always act in the best interest of the child. They do not take out time to counsel parents, who by omission or commission fail to act in the best interest of the child. These are doctors, who aid abortion, despite its illegality.
For example, parents come to a doctor with their 4-year-old son, who is seriously ill and almost at the point of death. After proper diagnosis, the child is said to need blood transfusion. The parents say their religion forbids them from blood transfusion and therefore they would not allow their child to be transfused with blood.
What is the role of a medical doctor in this kind of situation? Should he allow the parents to go on with their decision without making an attempt to counsel the parents or where they would not heed his counsel report the matter to the police? But do you know, what I have found is that a lot of children social service providers lack a sense of mission to act in the best interest of the child. They are merely perfunctory.
31. The lip service political office holder: To these ones the child is a campaign item as they seek political office. They make all kinds of promises, which only proceed from their lips and have no root in their hearts. Therefore, when they take charge of the seat of power they do nothing about their promises to the child.
Please note, it is not that they forgot their promises, they were never in their memory in the first instance. The child has become a tool to tune the minds of the electorate in their direction. They call them all kinds of names. Some say they run a child-friendly government and they watch teachers in the public schools go on strikes for months, without concrete efforts to meet their demands, which in most cases are not only reasonable, but they are the least human dignity demands.
32. The child unconscious media: Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives a clue to the role of the press in a civil society thus: “The Press, Radio, Television and agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.” I must say that, when it comes to protecting the rights of the child or upholding the responsibilities of children, the media in Nigeria has not done too well.
I once ran a weekly column in a leading newspaper on the rights of the child. I ran that column consistently and met all production deadlines. The Executive Director woke up one morning without any reason or prior warning yanked off the column. I have found that when the media carries a story on child abuse, they hardly follow up to the end as watchdogs, doing their constitutional responsibility. The story becomes attractive to the editor or producer of the programme because of its sensational value, which in turn increases readership, viewership or listenership.