‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children. ‘Nelson Mandela
On October 1, 1960, a series of nebulous negotiations between the colonial masters and our Nigerian independence negotiators, delivered on our laps as peoples of many nations, earlier amalgamated for economic and convenient administrative reasons what we today refer to and hypocritically celebrate as independence.
The arrangement as we can see has not delivered much in terms of the dividends of a modern state under a social contract. A social contract has one major provision: the welfare and the security of the people shall be the primary aim of government at all levels.
What we have today as the evidence of that 1960 arrangement are awfully unreliable social services, which I refer to as factory rejects, which emanate from the foundational errors of the production lines of state and governance as established by negotiators of the so-called independence and their protégés they handed over
The production plant of state and governance obliviously was not
properly set up on and before 1960. I think those who worked out the arrangement were either myopic in their understanding of the requirements for setting up a working state for peoples with diverse social, political and economic identities or they were distracted by their personal interest to bequeath to us a liability as a state.
‘If the foundation is faulty, what shall the righteous do,’ so says the book that I read. The righteous today seems not to have come to the realization that our fundamental problem is our foundation as a nation and until we revisit that foundation for the purpose of rebuilding it, we will continue to go in directionless circles, pretending that all is well, expect the best from a dysfunctional system of state, erected on a faulty foundation by those who negotiated the 1960 nebulous arrangement and gather every October 1 to pretend to celebrate an arrangement that has not in any way delivered social, political and economic freedom, which should be the vigorous
goal of a truly independent state.
Having pioneered a Social Empowerment Advocacy aimed at Securing A Friendly and Protective Environment for the precious African child through the STANDARDS of Systems Approach and Family Strengthening since 1997, I have come to the irresistible conclusion that the state of our nation is the state of our precious children and to change the
state of our precious children we must change the state of our nation; anything short of the foregoing remains in the social masturbating exercise in tokenism.
I have continued to postulate that until we address the issue of poverty, we cannot be serious about addressing the issues of Securing a Friendly and Protective Environment™ for the precious Nigerian children. I have said it to power many times that we cannot expect a set of caregivers, particularly parents, whose existence is abused and
do not enjoy any support from the state to be effective in protecting their precious children from abuse. There is no meaningful nation on earth where the responsibility of raising and protecting children rest solely on the shoulders of the parents and private institution.
I have continued to argue that there are four rings of protection, namely, family, community, state and international community. While it is the primary role of the family to raise and protect their precious children, it is however the primary responsibility of the community (neighbors, media, institution of learning, religious places of worship, NGOs, FBOs, CBOs, for-profit organizations and all private and para-state institutions within the community) and state to support the family and create an enabling environment for the family, sometimes with the support of the international. Once the community and the state fail in their sacred responsibilities as highlighted above, they put the family under unnecessary pressure.
Today’s Nigerian parents are nations to their precious children. Their children are their citizens as they are saddled with the responsibilities of providing for their precious children all the social services the state should provide for them. Maternal care, education, primary health care, shelter, nutrition, clothing is
provided by the parents, who have the means and those who do not have the means are left to their fate. Their precious children either suffer outright neglect or they are exposed to a kind of social services that leave them half-backed and dehumanized at the end of the day.
It seems to me that the way it is now, the parents of the Nigerian children are the citizens and the precious children are ‘grandcitizens’ and Nigeria is their ‘grandcountry’. It is just that in this arrangement the country does not support the ‘parentcitizens’ to meet the basic needs of their citizens (children) to who the state is now is their ‘grandcountry.’ The sad thing is that the state of the Nigeria and obvious neglect of her people, particularly her precious
children seem to have been accepted as the norm.
Since there is no such concept as grandcitizenship or grandcountry in the global social dictionary, the fate of the precious Nigerian child is in a horrible state of emergency.
Consider the pictures that we see where children are compelled to drink dirty water, live on refuse dump sites, pack themselves as 140 students in classroom built for 40; sit on the bare floor or used car tyres, sit under the tree to be taught, laid on plastic chairs as newborn and you will agree with me that the fate of the precious Nigerian child is in a horrible state of emergency.
Consider the fact that 13.5 million Nigerian children are out of school and Nigeria has the highest number of children out of school in the world; that one in five Nigerian children never reach the age of 5 and that nearly 20% of all global maternal deaths happen in Nigeria, the precious Nigerian child is in a horrible state of emergency.
Consider that the Nigerian children are two generations behind schedule in learning the basics and being ready for the 21st century world of work, the precious Nigerian child is in a horrible state of emergency.
Consider that we erroneously and frequently refer to our precious children, who are denied of basic needs of life like healthcare, education, shelter, food and water and clothing as underprivileged when in actual fact they are the denied, the abused and the ‘wretched of the earth,’ in the words of Franz Fanon, whose parents are the
hewers of woods and drawers of water, the Hoi polloi, who what they are actually denied of are their basic rights to livelihood and not privileges, the fate of the precious Nigerian child is in a horrible state of emergency. Privileges only kick in after universally recognized rights have been met.
The disposition of the Nigerian state today is a keen revelation of our soul as a society and if the fate of the precious Nigerian child is in a horrible state of emergency, then the Nigerian state is in a horrible state of emergency. I round up this call to action and genuine advocacy for a better nation and attention to our precious children, which I find no better day to address than today with the instructive words of V.R. Tenaja, ‘so long as there is one child who has failed to obtain the precise educational treatment his individuality requires; so long as a single child goes hungry, has nowhere to play, fails to receive medical attention he needs; so long as the nation fails to train and provide scope for every atom of outstanding ability it can find; so long as there are administrators or teachers who feel no sense of mission, who cannot administer or who cannot teach, the system will remain incomplete.’
I remain sober on my knees today, praying that God help us to accept the wisdom not to continue to sacrifice our collective future for the selfish expediency of today, playing victims of faulty past and foundation as a state.
Do have an INSPIRED day.
Yours IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PRECIOUS AFRICAN CHILD,