I watched a programme on television just the other day on the travails of street children. While the programme was unfolding, I noticed that some of these children actually found home around the beach. I saw how they live their everyday lives. It is amazing how they fought for every thing they get. It was the life of those who live in a jungle. They fought for their meals, their survival, for space to lay their heads at nights and their very existence.
At another scene, I saw a little girl who would not be more than thirteen years of age taking care of four little children and when asked who these children they were, she replied that they were hers. She came to live there because she had lost her parents and she didn’t have any relatives to go to. While she was living there, she was faced with hardship as she paid the only way she learnt how to. Unfortunately, she got pregnant with her first baby, then her second, third and fourth babies. Today, she is a mother of four children despite the fact that she is still an underaged girl. And so, the stories appeal to these young children everywhere on the streets.
Now my questions are: why are these children on the streets? Don’t we have any child welfare scheme? There is no known statistics for street
children in Nigeria, but it is known that children of under 18 years of age made up nearly 48% of the estimated country’s population of about 150 million according to the census of 2006. This estimate remains undiminished with the passage of years and associated increase in Nigeria’s population.
We all know that massive corruption combined with legendary mismanagement of the resources has made the provision of amenities impossible in Nigeria. Even with the promised provision of compulsory education to Nigerian children. UNICEF in 2005 reported that 7.3 million Nigerian children of school age were not in schools. This pathetic situation and trend has its own social consequences, one of which is the large proportion of street children or urchins in the major towns and cities of Nigeria.
From the little I know about the happenings, these children can grow up and constitute nuisance in the society. They become the ‘area boys, the arm robbers, the assassins, the militants in our communities. They will make government’s project fail. They won’t do these because they enjoy it, but because that is all they have grown to know and love. At the end, nothing will work because they will fight back because we had a chance to give them good lives but we failed to do it.