Published On: Mon, May 26th, 2014

Should There be Celebration on Children’s Day?

These children may not celebrate the unsual children's day

By Rufus Ibebe Akpobome
Children day celebration was first proclaimed by the world conference for the well being of children in 1925. It was established universally in 1954. Each country was given the privilege to choose an appropriate date (day) to organize her children day. Children’s day celebration is aimed at honouring children around the globe. Apart from honouring the children who are undisputed the leaders of tomorrow, it is also a day that is suppose to be used as an avenue to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children thereby creating a better foundation for the development of their future.
This annual celebration was also design to be an effective medium to initiate actions of mutual benefits and promote the welfare of children all over the world. Nigeria choose to celebrate her children on the 27th of may every year unlike Turkey, Zambia and Mexico who choose to celebrate their children on 23rd, 24th ,and 25th of April each year respectively.
Other countries like Canada, Egypt, Finland, Ireland and Israel have all adopted November 20th each year for the same celebration. United States of America often referred to as God’s own country; choose June 1st every year to celebrate her children. Children day is not simply a day to celebrate children for who they are but it is the time to bring awareness to children around the globe that have succumbed to violence in form of drug abuse, exploitation, child labour and discrimination. Children are used as labourer, immersed in armed conflict, and even live in the street. Yet, Nigeria leaders have reduced this annual event into a festivity ceremony without addressing the major issues that are of great importance to the development and growth of the Nigerian children.
The way Nigerian government celebrate their children each year, without promoting the welfare and wellbeing of her children have no doubt, reduce this august celebration into a Looking at the present security situation of this country ,the political instability and the rate at which ritual activities have increased, a lover of peace and development of this nation, would agree that for the interest of the nation,2014 children’s should not be a time for festivity but rather a time for sober reflection. We as a nation must reflect on why things are going wrong in this country. We must equally look back into the past and see where and how we started failing our children. Above all, we must use May 27th, 2014, to pray for the future of our children. It must not be business as usual. One may be forced to ask, what is there to celebrate in a country where the securities of the children to be celebrated are not secured? What are we celebrating when over 250 girls can be abducted from their school in chibok? What is the joy of celebrating children that are still used for rituals, drug trafficking and prostitution? What is there to celebrate in children who go to bed without food in the night and wake up without food to eat in the morning?
What are we celebrating in children who are exposed to polluted environment due to crude oil exploitation in the south or bush burning in the north? Should we celebrate when many parents are crying over the abduction of their children in different parts of the country? Should we as a nation celebrate when it is obvious that that our schools are mere shadows of what learning places are suppose to be? Should there be festivity in the land when we cant guarantee the safety of the lives of the children that would be attending the celebration? No! I say no, not because I don’t like festivity but because, the bible stated clearly that we should be sad when others are sad. It is obvious that Nigerian children are sad and we must not celebrate except we want them to see us as their enemies. It is only your enemy that would rejoice and celebrate while you are sad. We just can’t celebrate when Nigerian children are out of school because their parents cannot to afford to pay their school fees. These children are forced to hawk in the streets of Lagos and Ughelli main market in other to provide school fees and food for themselves. We can’t celebrate Nigerian children when child marriage is still practiced in Nigeria simply because our lawmakers refuse to remove/amend section 29(4) (b) of the 1999 constitution. This section states that,” any woman who is married shall be deemed to have come of full age”.
By implication, if an eight year old girl is married (even against her wish) to a man of eighty years, through marriage, that child automatically becomes an adult. Oh! What a shame! The state of the Nigerian children is so pathetic that late chief (Mrs.) Stella Obasanjo had admitted in 2002 in her speech at the presentation of the state of the world children report “that many children are engaged in exploitative child labour, putting them at risk of human trafficking, with ten Nigerian children daily passing the boarder into slavery in other lands”. She furthered stated that, “if you look at current statistic in the state of world children report, the situation of the Nigerian child in education, health and protection are particularly bad when compared to some other poor countries in the sub-Saharan Africa”. So if may ask again, what is there to celebrate?
Experience they say is the best teacher. This best teacher, have taught us that past celebrations have always been hijacked by politicians to sing praises of themselves and their loyalist. The children that are suppose to be celebrated on this day, are usually neglected and long speeches of promises which are in most cases not fulfilled are usually delivered by these politicians who take advantage of the usual large turn out of children and their parents to carry out their campaigns. It is on record that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan suspends an elaborate Independence Day celebration in 2011, 2012 and 2013 with the promise of a grand and elaborate celebrate in 2014 when Nigeria would be 100 year after being almagamented in 1914. If the president can do this, I see no reason why 2014 children day celebration should not be celebrated with fanfare on the account that our children are not happy. Governor Babaginda Aliyu of Niger state has canceled festivity from the children day in the state due to the abduction of school girls in Chibok. Also, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, governor of Delta state has declared that there would be no fanfare in the state to mark 2014 children day celebration. Both governors have however, called on the good people of Nigeria to pray for the country that day. Dr. E.E. Uduaghan stated “because of the situation and things in this country, we have decided that 2014 is not a year of celebration but a year of serious prayer. He furthered stressed that “on May 27th, children day, we are going to gather our children to fast and pray”. It would be highly appreciated if other leaders can emulate Alhaji Babaginda Aliyu and Dr. E.E. Uduaghan and decide not to spend the tax payers’ money in celebrating children that are not happy. The money that would have been used for the celebration should be channeled into developmental projects like renovation of school buildings, provision of writing materials for pupils/students, enhancing a better secured nation and above all, ensuring that the child right is protected. If all the above mentioned things can be put into place, Nigerian children can and should be celebrated in the future because truly children are unique and gifts from God. They would be happy then to take part in the celebration because they will have course to celebrate. Ibebe o.
Rufus Ibebe Akpobome is a journalist from Delta State

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