Today is Children’s Day, a day to celebrate children in Nigeria. Although, it is celebrated on different days in many places around the world, it is set aside to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate actions that benefit and promote the welfare of children.
The Children’s Day is not just a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness to children around the globe that have succumbed to violence, exploitation and deprivation of basic needs.
In some climes, children are used as labourers, sex objects, live in the streets and are also victims of communal, sectarian and civil strifes. And here in Nigeria, one third (1/3) of 6 to 14 year olds don’t go to school, many leave school for different purposes and child rights are often violated.
Our correspondent, Tonye Ikiroma-Owiye, went to town to speak to some residents of Port Harcourt on the significance of the Children’s Day.
Here are some excerpts.
Mr Minini Georgewill- Accountant:
The day is worth celebrating as it brings children of diverse backgrounds to meet each other especially those from both the public and private schools.
I think that as a parent who was once a child, the idea of celebrating the day apart from bringing children together shows that government over the years has not shirked away from its core responsibility of organizing activities to mark the day since its inception in Nigeria.
However, there are a lot of things government should do to make children have more sense of belonging in the society. This can be by being more proactive in providing infrastructures in school, and communities like equipment and better playgrounds.
Some children don’t have the means to go to school especially those from very poor homes and I believe that if government puts its acts together by enforcing a policy of eradicating illiteracy, the society will be a better place.
Children, those of school age should always take their studies seriously if they want to be useful to themselves and the society.
As youngmen when we were growing up, we had respect for our elders, were disciplined, but today, the situation is quite alarming as children don’t respect people older than them anymore.
As children, 27th of May every year saw us welcoming the celebration with enthusiasm and I hope that present day children of school age should use the occasion to thrive for their future as between five and nine years most of them will be grown up with those younger than them looking up to them for exemplary leadership.
If we can recall the purpose of the Childrens Day, the United Nations specifically came up with six major objectives to make the lives of children easier. These include education, healthcare, improvement of skills acquired in schools as well as implementing policies that will promote peace in the society and respect for the environment.
To me, all these objectives are laudable and we as parents and government should do everything possible to see that they are achieved and sustained.
Dr Glory Worgu
It is a wonderful period for our state. The Childrens Day calls for our commitment as parents to bring up our children with the fear of God. Today, there are a lot of diverse behaviours, that is why when we impart knowledge to them when they are quite young, they will grow up with that first impression. You see a child’s mind is just like a blank board and what we imprint in them is what we expect in future.
It is also quite unfortunate that we have left the grooming of our children to the schools which to me is wrong. Parents are supposed to do that especially that of moral and spiritual upbringing. When we do all these we are in a better situation to evaluate our children so that even outside the school environment, they will only associate with those similar to them in character.
Why I am saying this is because with the right lifestyle, they will not be tempted to follow the modern western fad of lesbianism and homosexuality. Young men and women will also not see it a vogue to get married to people of the same sex.
When as parents we do the right by also supervising their school work, definitely we will be rewarded with positive outcome. The children too will not only be fulfilled but bring glory to God and their parents.
Parents should not introduce their children in their early years to things that are not of God so that life itself will be better for them as they grow up to become adults.
They are also likely not to be terrorists or associated with people of such tendencies. The government should play its part if it wants children to be useful to the society in general by providing the necessary clime for them to grow up without undue stress.
I want the government to make sure it provides the opportunity for every child to have a sound education.
To me, I believe that my future is bright as I want to be an engineer when I grow up.
I also pray that more children like me will also have the opportunity to go to school. But they can only succeed if they obey their parents.
Hon (Engr) Tominaye Toru Davies
As a father, I know the rigorous experience one passes through to bring up a child. Children are quite lovely so if as a parent you want them to grow up and be useful to themselves and the society; you have to teach them good morals quite early in their lives. You lay down the rules of dos and donts and even tell them the type of characters not to associate with.
One major problem is that the educated class or rich leave the upbringing of their children to house helps which is not too advisable. In our days, our mothers were there; even grandmothers who had time to look after us, taught us our languages, told us stories. But today, it is just nannies everywhere.
I thank God that another Children’s Day is here again which I believe both children and parents would use the celebration to take stock on how they have fared in the past one year and plan ahead for a positive future.
Children’s Day should not be seen as just the time to parade and sing songs but as a period when we as Rivers people should start asking ourselves if we have really invested in our children so that their future would be better than ours. Have we as government done our part by formulating policies and programmes that will protect their future? Have we implemented all these policies and programmes up to 80 per cent.
Are our schools especially the primary and secondary schools at both the rural and urban area up to standard? Are our children of school age going to school? Are we meeting up with their health challenges?
These are so many questions to ask, answers expected are one recalls that this year’s celebration also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the creation of Rivers State.
I begin to express worry that we might lose it all if different approaches to the problems at hand are not brought to bear.
Today, we are plagued with high incident of cultism, communal crisis, terrorism and other forms of criminality and some of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are mostly youths. We cannot afford our children to be led astray by never-do-wells in the society, that’s why I am appealing to parents to be more focused on what their children do. This also calls for a better educational programme that will keep them fully occupied.
While the government is doing its best for them, I also call on them to think more on how as individuals they can help themselves to become better because a child today is an adult tomorrow. It is not in their old age that they will start thinking of a career or vocation to follow. It is better to decide what career one wants to pursue in life in a youthful age than when he or she is already a father or mother.
Children should avoid friends that will lead them astray, be closer to their parents and obey societal laws if they want to progress in life. With the world moving on a fast lane of development they should study hard and be movers and shakers of the science and technology that is shaping the globe so that they too will be reckoned as genius and innovators in the hi-tech industry.
Lady (Dr) Ndidi Utchay
Thank God that we are in another celebration mood. This Children’s Day to me as a mother is very special as it coincides with Rivers State at 50. I wish all children happy festivities and use the occasion to call on them to think of their future as they will not be children for ever.
Whenever I see young children, it really gives me pleasure as a mother but I am also worried because of some negative happenings in the society such as indiscipline and social vices that are prevailing in the society. Today, some children are unruly due to peer pressure and I quite believe that this is as a result of some people abandoning their roles as parents. Whether as a working mother or not, we should find time to sit down with our children, interact and have serious discussion on how to live as a family. This is because a lot of households have abandoned God in their affairs. If we are really serious as parents, the church should be our primary focus; where morals are taught and all things pertaining to God, it is only when we put God first in our lives that we can really plan.
I am also not too surprised at the moral bankruptcy in the society today as some children even when told to go to church will run away. I think if children are to be of better stock, their introduction to the things of God should start quite early.
We should not wait until when they have grown up a bit and become truants that we start inviting them to the church. Since it is easier to mould one’s character in the positive light when quite young, it is better we start them early so that our children would no longer fall prey to peer pressure from people of questionable character.
What I believe should also be done to improve the situation of the children is for the government to embark on more developmental projects especially in the education sector so that every child will have the opportunity to go to school.
Children also should be mindful of the friends they associate with and avoid those who will lead them astray.
I believe that the future will be better for everyone but on the condition that we do things right and obey God.
Diocesan Children Chaplain, Diocese of Evo, Rev Canon O. E. Igbamerun
Children should learn to be obedient to their parents, respect elders and put God first in their lives. Those who live upright lives will eventually succeed in their endeavours.
Sometimes I am surprised when people say that they are too busy to interact with their children. I don’t believe it is true because we have the time. No matter the schedule we have, we must create the time to be with our children because they are our future. If our parents had time for us as children why can’t we do so for our own children?
We shirk away from our responsibilities because we have become too involved in too many activities hence the flimsy excuse. You see, someone told me that even if God extends the 24-hour day period we observe, we as mortals will still complain. We should never neglect the home as it is the bedrock of the society and our children must be protected from negative tendencies.
We should also teach them good morals and not leave everything to outside influence. It is only then and then that the society will be better. I also use the occasion to wish all children a prosperous celebration.