It is Children’s Day in Nigeria and I woke up this morning thinking about the work the Lord committed into my hands in the last 15 years, which is ‘to bring to the very front burner of private and public conscience and consciousness the rights and responsibilities of the African child for due respect in the best interest of the child.’
I must say with all humility that I have not been disobedient to this heavenly mandate. As a matter of fact my obedience has not been without priceless sacrifices. Again no matter how sacrificial my obedience has been, I do not count it to be anything because necessity is laid upon me…woe unto me if I do not stand and defend the cause of the African child.
Why is necessity laid upon me? It is a long story but I will cut it short this way: I was a victim of child abuse. There are four ways a child could be abused, I suffered them all in abundance. As I have said at many fora, my childhood was a bountiful basket of abuses. I was abused physically in the name of disciplined. I was abused sexually as I lost my virginity at the age of 6 to a neighbour, a woman, who my mother left me with when she went to the market. I was abused emotionally as I was chastised for everything I did wrong and never commended for anything I did right.
Many abusive and wrong words were said to me. At age nine, my teacher in school had nickednamed me Satan or the devil when i lost a friend during our favourite game of tree climbing. Unknown to my handlers, they did not know that fact that for every one wrong word you say to a child, you need seventeen to correct it. I was abused by neglect. My handlers were not available to lead me. My father died at the age of 82 when I was 39, I cannot remember him sitting down to instruct me on how to handle any issue of life. I grew up with any knowledge of life skills. Unfortunately, I followed the pattern of lives of my handlers, which was not anything but disciplined.
I was on the path of destruction until age 27 when I gave my life to Christ and He began to make all the difference in my life. In my expression of gratitude to God for coming to my rescue, I answered His call to tell my story of childhood abuse, rescue and hope. I call it story, senses (principles and lessons) and stone (instructions). I accepted the responsibility that the world has a lot to learn from my story on how to train children. For me, If do not live to tell this story; I am not fit to live.
If I stop telling my story, then just know that I signed up for suicide. I am therefore not a Child’s Rights Advocate as people call me, I am a witness. I am a steward and trustee of the message of hope for a great future for our children. For me, the law is not a profession, it is a platform. I am therefore the voice of a Street Advocate, crying in the wilderness, saying give our children a hope and a future.
I am also committed to helping those who experienced one form of abuse or the other to start a new life as God helped me to. I am committed to helping them to see that they can take responsibility for their lives today and that they cannot continue to reproduce themselves in their children and others in their areas influence. The bulk must stop at their table as they must as matter of a commitment to save humanity begin a new generation. God having helped me to a good level, I can say that the task of shaking off the impact of wrong upbringing is a seemingly impossible task. It requires, first of all the help of God and the commitment of the victim to God and change.
It is in this same spirit of necessity that I write today as a life stakeholder as we ‘celebrate’ Children’s Day. Please note that I used the word, ‘celebrate’ consciously. I used it to carry you along as many of us believe we are celebrating Children’s Day. I used it more as a positive confession and not as reality.
I used it because I know that if there is anything the Nigerian Child can boldly celebrate today, it is the mercy, grace, goodness and faithfulness of God. I make bold to say that having been on the field for the past 15 years, the Nigerian child has never been under the kind siege it is in today. The Nigerian child is troubled on every side.
In the year 2010, I began to think that the state of our nation is the state of our children. I began to say that if a nation does not have as one of its core values the dignity of human person, it will not respect the rights of any member of the citizen, including children. I began to make it clear that any advocacy for a better life for our children that is not interested in the state of our nation will not only be an exercise in woeful futility but also a grand self or public deception. We are all products of our environment. When an environment is not enabled through an effective system of respect for the dignity of human person it will not produce complete children.
What is the state of our nation today? Let me illustrate it thus: Somalia has been characterized as a failed state and is one of the poorest and most violent states in the world, having been at civil war since 1991 and has no central government control over most of the country’s territory. But do you know that life expectancy in Somalia is higher than that of Nigeria? Life expectancy in failed state Somalia is 48. 2 in general, 46.9 for men and 49.4 for women while in Nigeria general life expectancy is 46.9, men, 46.4 and women, 47.3. Life expectancy in Sudan, which has been at war since 1955, a year before its independence in January 1, 1956 is 58.6 in general, 57.1 for men and 60.1 for men. Considering the foregoing social index, could it be that our nation is at war? I have told as many as care to listen that the abject poverty in our land is a major threat to child protection.
My charge today as we ‘celebrate’ Children’s Day is that we should take time to consider the present and the future of our nation. We must begin our consideration from asking what our personal role is in national change. It is important that we begin to be concerned about the state of our nation as the foundation to the security and welfare for our children. The truth is that we do not inherit the world from our forefather but we borrowed it from our children. In what form do we plan to return it (world) to them? The former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once opined “We, the grown-ups, have failed you (children) deplorably… One in three of you has suffered from malnutrition before you turned five years old. One in four of you has not been immunized against any disease. Almost one in five of you is not attending school…. We, the grown-ups, must reverse this list of failures.”
My charge today is a call to personal change, which will translate to national change. My call today is not for you to change the world but to change your continent and if your continent is too big for you, please attempt your country. If your country is too big for you, then focus on your state and if your state becomes too big for you, then focus on your local government area. If your local government area gives you problem then focus on your ward. If your ward is too big for you then focus on your building. If your building becomes a problem, all hope is not lost; you still have your room, room and parlour, flat or duplex. If the room, room and parlour, flat or duplex is too big for you focus on your bed and if your bed is too big, please focus on your bed space and if your bed space becomes a difficult task, please focus on yourself.
The long and short of my admonition is that you are the change our nation is waiting for. The truth of the matter is that if we can be committed to personal change, we will see family and national change and great shall forever be the peace of our children.
On the final note, I invite you all to join us as we pray for the peace of our children on the Day of the African Child, June 16, 2012 at Chrisland School, Ladipo Oluwole, off Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja, Lagos from 9.30 AM.
As I sign out today I enjoin you all: Think Today…Think the Future…Think the Child…