AUGUST REVIEW: THE NIGERIAN CHILD AND THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY

In 2018, Nigeria… a supposedly giant of Africa and the most populous black nation in the world became the country with the highest number of poverty stricken individuals in the world. A significant achievement by the ever corrupt and inept government led by a hoard of ever defecting politicians who has grappled and jostled for power of the country for close to half of a century.

According to the Mirriam Webster dictionary, poverty can be defined “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions”. A responsible state is one who ensures all its citizens have access to social acceptable welfare benefits such as shelter, education, food and health insurance. People all over the world, have their personal perspective of what poverty really is, which implies that poverty is very ambiguous to a lot of people. Our definition of poverty thus becomes shaped by our current reality and we might struggle to fathom another person’s idea of poverty.

With the median of the Nigerian population falling in active fertile ages, the country’s estimated birth rate is at forty babies per every one thousand births (www.indexmundi.com). This infers that a higher percentage of these children are born into a seemingly hopeless abyss of poverty which threatens their survival more than any disease or affliction. The infant mortality rate stands at seventy death per one thousand live births with the primary cause of these death sub-par facilities and care for these babies. The stats above shows how the Nigerian government has continually failed the innocent infant even before the open their eyes or let out their first cry in this harsh world.

When the conditions and necessary facilities required for the proper development of these children are thus missing from their infrastructure, with a steady decline yearly, we can also expect the rate of development of each child to regress yearly till eventually we hit rock bottom and have nothing but a pool of cave children around us struggling for their daily survival.

I personally believe the government and the country needs to step up. As individuals, we need to take control and realize we the masses are more powerful than the government and can effectively shape the future of the Nigerian child so he can effectively take his place in the society without shame or fear from his peers across the world. We must effectively contribute to the development of these children by placing their interests first and not just seeking for enlightening medium of developing them, but constantly effecting this medium.

Our society must therefore declare poverty as public enemy number one and see welfare and charity not as privilege but as a responsibility to fellow citizens. The country and its populace must understand this important principle to battle this menace and survive the odds against its fiery claws. The functional development of a child at home, at school, at social gatherings and even in the society, depends solely on the eradication of poverty in the country. With the prevalent scourge of poverty in the country, a child cannot be properly developed to be the best he can be, the future leader of his country.

When you care for a child, you care for a nation…

 

SUPPORTING THE CHILDREN IN AFRICA: A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIAN CHILDREN (PART 2)

CHILD RIGHTS LAW IN NIGERIA

A quick look at some of the salient Child’s right acts that I believe every parent, guardian and child should be educated with in the society are detailed below;

  1. The best interest of a child is to be of paramount consideration in all actions. This is an act that our society constantly denies our children. We are wont to see parents and guardians taking decisions for their children and wards only to actualize their selfish interests. This is utterly wrong and should be frowned upon and discouraged when it is observed in any set up.
  2. A child should be given protection and care necessary for his well-being. The reverse is the case in our society. Our streets are flooded with child-hawkers patrolling the busy highways, chasing after cars, constantly endangering their lives and finding themselves in susceptible places that could result in their kidnapping, rape, or their death. Violation of this act should be treated as a federal crime punishable with a required amount of jail time.
  3. A child has the right to survival and development. Every child has a legitimate right to be allowed to develop and survive the harsh conditions that might surround them. It is the responsibility of the parents and guardians to ensure their children and wards are given all the required resources that will see to their survival and development.
  4. A child has a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Every child has their exclusive right to choose their religion, their cognitive response to situations, and the decisions that make them happy. The custom in this part of world has seen kids being disowned by parents for switching faiths and responding to situations in ways that is different from the response their parents would probably have responded with. The initiatives of these kids are crushed from a very early stage and it’s no wonder we have more seniors (between ages 65 and above) as leaders and parliamentary members of African nations as compared to other continents.
  5. A child has the right to a private and family life. This is a malaise that cuts across the global community with celebrities turning every bit of their life to a reality TV show and invading the privacies of their kids along with it.
  6. A child has the right to freedom of movement. Kids in this part of world are used to being grounded in their homes even before they know what being grounded means. These kids eventually lack the confidence to explore and take advantage of their environments. Parents and guardians excessive grounding of children and denying them their freedom to move most often than not usually results in negative outcomes for the kids.
  7. A child has the right to freedom from discrimination. This is a challenge usually experienced in societies of different races. Discrimination, hate and bigotry are foreign to human nature. These are evil qualities that are taught to children which they play out as they grow older.
  8. A child has the right to Parental care, protection and maintenance. Every child has the right to a parent or a guardian to serve as a role model and protector to the child.
  9. A child has the right to leisure, recreation and cultural activities. As earlier stated, every child deserves and have the right to be allowed to grow up as one. They are to grow up having ample time to play and involve themselves in any other form of recreational activities they find desirable.
  10. A child has the right to health and healing services. Every child has the right to be afforded good medical services and to be subjected to good and healthy living standards. The latter is a big issue in the country as a lot of parents and guardians themselves don’t know what constitutes a healthy living.

These are a few of the important rights children have under the federal laws of Nigeria, which are backed up UNICEF and WHO. Other rights includes the under listed, but not limited to it.

  1. The right to dignity of the child.
  2. The right of a child to free, compulsory and universal primary education.
  3. The right of a child in need of special protection measure.
  4. The right of the unborn child to protection against harm.
  5. The parents or guardians are to provide guidance with respect to a child’s responsibilities.
  6. Prohibition of CHILD MARRIAGE and CHILD BETHROTHAL.
  7. Punishment for CHILD MARRIAGE and CHILD BETHROTHAL.
  8. Prohibition of tattoos and skin marks.
  9. Exposure to use, production and trafficking of narcotic drugs, etc.
  10. Prohibition of the use of children in criminal activities.
  11. Abduction, removal, and transfer of a child from a lawful custody.
  12. Prohibition of exploitative labor, buying, selling, hiring or otherwise dealing with children for the purpose of hawking, prostitution or begging for alms.
  13. Prohibition of unlawful sexual intercourse with a child, and other forms of sexual abuse and exploitation of a child.
  14. Prohibition of recruitment of children into the armed forces.
  15. Prohibition of importation of harmful publications for children.
  16. Refuge for children of risk, orphans and destitute.

 

SUPPORTING THE CHILDREN IN AFRICA: A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIAN CHILDREN (PART 1)

A leisurely drive through the mega-city of Lagos reveals one thing clearly, the city is blessed with numerous Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. A very interesting fact about the mega-city of Lagos that any country will be proud of. It therefore comes as no surprise that the mega-city of Lagos boasts one of the largest economies in Africa. The population of the city stands at an approximate of eighteen million people while the internal revenue generated by the city of Lagos stands at an estimated One hundred billion dollars per year and a per capita income of about four thousand and five hundred dollars. The city has the fifth biggest economy in Africa and if it were to be a country, it would be among the top ten countries with the highest economy in Africa and would also be in the top five countries with the biggest population in Africa.

The city boasts of a very enterprising environment, is often dubbed the city that never sleeps. Anywhere you go as you go through the city, there’s always an enterprising individual pushing his merchandise to you with pleading eyes begging for a minute of your attention and a fraction of the few naira you are carrying in your wallet. It is an enterprising attitude you can’t help but admire has these individuals courageously chase after moving vehicles in a bid to sell some of their products.

Sadly, a large number of these individuals mentioned are usually in their early teens and below. It now begs one to wonder why these kids are not in their schools. The population of the kids hawking on the streets of Lagos multiplies by the end of the school hours which simply infers the bulk of these children are tasked with hawking and being an adult before they are mentally ready. This malaise is what the enterprising Micro, Small and Medium businesses in Lagos have continually leveraged on to ensure a going concern for their businesses and to ensure their balance sheet at the end of the fiscal year stays green rather than red.

This development is saddening because people always complain about the ripple effects of this malaise but they don’t seem to find anything wrong with the founding cause of the malaise. These children are denied an opportunity to learn to grow and experience childhood. They are tasked with the responsibility of being an adult long before they are mentally ready for the challenge. A large number of them starts believing if they are ready to forgo their childhood , then they are ready to start living like adults, hence we see a lot of urchins, single teenage mothers, and a lot of young boys and girls just basically living like destitute, getting involved in drugs, prostitution, robbery and other types of disparaging behaviors. This ugly trends seems to be on the increase in the light of harsh economic realities of the country, as parents and guardians of these dependents and minors will rather concern themselves with where their next income will come from rather than the impact of denying their young child the experience of being a child.

The country adopted THE CHILD’S RIGHTS ACTS in 2003 and not until 2015 before the first state in the country attempted to implement it in the state. The remaining thirty five states have conveniently ignored these acts, while the only one to implement it have failed woefully in it the implementation of the acts. The horrendous acts against children in the great city of Lagos replicates across all the states in the country, and worse acts are being perpetrated against the girls especially in the northern part of the country. A lot of the young girls are forcefully married off to men old enough to be their grand-parents. A barbaric culture to say the least, which has been fully grounded on the tenets of religion. A campaign (#ChildNotBride) in the country is seeking to actively stop this sort of marriage in the country. This campaign is a welcome development for the female children in the country, but we also need to wake up to the facts that our children are not traders, hawkers or laborers. They are CHILDREN and should be allowed the opportunity to grow up as one.