As we celebrate the 57th flag independence of our great nation, Nigeria, I think there is no better determinant of the state of our nation than the state of her precious children. According to Dr. Nelson Mandela, ‘there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.’
Dr. Nelson Mandela is very rights. And I think taking a careful look at the state of the precious Nigerian Child under this government and successive governments since our flag independence scores our society very low. Permit me to submit that in Nigeria, like many African, we take only take mental notice of children and not actual notice. Mental notice is never deliberate; it is an accidental affair, often authored by circumstances not within our control either by virtues of our ignorance or negligence. Actual notice speaks of conscious efforts of caregivers, aimed at achieving adequate care. What is CARE in the context? It is to anticipate the needs and threats to a child and make adequate preparation to meet the needs and mitigate the threats before they arise.
The report on Violence Against Children in Nigeria of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), National Population Commission of Nigeria and supported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which published the findings from a National Survey in 2014 and launched in 2014 found that ‘there is a high prevalence of violence against children in Nigeria.’
The survey, which provides, for the first time, national estimates that describe the magnitude and nature of sexual, physical and emotional violence experienced by under-18 females and males in Nigeria submits as follows: approximately 6 out of every 10 children experience some form of violence; one in two children experience physical violence; one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence; one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence. It is also found that children are exposed to multiple forms of abuse, therefore ‘violence against children is rarely an isolated incident.’
The report found that ‘children are not disclosing violence and not seeking or receiving services.’ It is further disclosed that children are not disclosing abuses because they will not be believed.
The disposition of children is a reflection of our culture of silence when it comes to addressing the issues of abuse, which children are exposed to.
In response to troubling findings of the survey, priority actions were developed to stem the ugly tide of the present situation of the precious Nigerian child. The lead priority action is establishment of system’s approach to the protection of our precious children.
Beyond the report, it is today an open secret that Nigeria holds the world record of the number of children out of school. Nigeria is responsible for fifty percent of the total number of children out of school in the world. The BCC, in July 2017 reported as follows, ‘acknowledging the scale of the problem the education ministry’s permanent secretary Adamu Hussaini said it was “sad to note” that Nigeria had 10.5 million children out of school.’ The other question is that what kind of education are the children in school receiving?
I wonder what the future hold for a nation, which cannot educate her children. I wonder what the future holds for a country, which is not at war on the face of it but beats war-torn countries like Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yeme, Iran and other in the number of children out of school. It seems to me we are immersed in another kind of war, which our handlers are yet to define and the world is yet to take the needed and critical look at
Having being on the field for close to 20 years, pleading the cause of the Nigerian child, it is my conclusion that the foundation of every response must be enlightenment. Thus I say, ‘enlightenment is superior to enforcement,’ noting that both as primary and secondary caregivers, we treat children as we see them and we see them according to our dominant value system as a people.
I think the foregoing must form a critical part of our concern as we spare a thought for our precious children as we celebrate our 57th independence.
While we must hope for the best for the precious Nigerian child and commend present efforts at preserving his/her present and future as we mark our flag independence, I wonder if I can really from my conscience, wish the Nigerian child happy independence.
But I reaching to the deepest level of my heart, I am hopeful for the Nigeria hope. It is in fact hope against hope but resting on the word of Clare Boothe Luce ‘that there are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people.’ In the spirit of this hope, I wish the Nigeria Child, Happy but Sobering Independent day.
I am Taiwo ‘ODINAKACHUWU’ AKINLAMI, Total Childhood Management and Child Development Expert, 2348033620843, 08056979605 W: http://www.taiwoakinlami.com B: taiwoakinlamiblog.com T: @taiwoakinlami E: Principal@taiwoakinlami.com