By OLASUNKANMI AKONI, UDUMA KALU, CHIOMA OBINNA, DOTUN IBIWOYE &MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
LAGOS— WIFE of Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope_Adefulire and Chief Executive, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization, CBAAC, Professor Tunde Babawale, yesterday, lent support to the implementation and enforcement of legislations that protect rights of the African child.
While holding that lack of adequate parental care was a major factor of child abuse, they stressed that parents must invest in their children to ensure safe and secure future for them.
Speaking at the first Parenting Summit organized in Lagos by Vanguard Media Limited, publishers of Vanguard Newspapers, in collaboration with United Nations Children Education Fund, UNICEF, and the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization, CBAAC, in commemoration of the Year 2011 International Day of the African Child with the theme “the place of parenting in curbing child abuse,” they held that parents must rise up and correct their children again.
Mrs. Fashola in her keynote address said: “Parents have failed our children, there is nothing wrong in admitting that we need to step up, rise up and correct them again. Let’s be the parents we should be to our children.
“We need to learn to talk to our children so that they can make you their confidant. We need to know their mood and sit back and watch how they develop. Take charge of the affairs of your children make your children your friends and let us inculcate in them the African family values.”
While noting the importance of parents in the development of children, Mrs. Fashola said those roles cannot be transferred or abdicated.
She enjoined parents to see the task of parenting as collaborative efforts of the father and mother stressing that inculcating family values in the children was a non negotiable task for both parents.
The Deputy Governor who declared open the summit noted that child abuse did not stop at sexual abuse and harassment, noting that parents who abandoned or neglected their children due to career or religious engagement; or denied them the basic fundamental rights as enlisted in the United Nations Charter on the Rights of Children have abused such children.
Adefulire said that beyond the provision of education and other basic needs of the children, parents should not only create and spend time with them but should also address the issues that affect them at home or in the school.
Victims of child abuse
She said: “Parenting is a serious business that we cannot abandon, abdicate or transfer to our house helps or relations who can easily molest or abuse our children. If we are negligent or careless we will not be guiltless if our children are victims of child abuse.”
The deputy governor said the state government was in the vanguard of formulating and implementing policies and programmes that have continued to impact positively on the development of children especially those who are socially, educationally or economically-disadvantaged.
She listed some of the programmes the state government had developed to take children off the streets and prepare them for a secure and safe future.
These include: the Yellow Card initiative, ‘No Child is Left Behind’ Basic Education policy in compliance with the MDGs Goal number two, the girl-child education project; establishment of Skills Acquisition/Vocational centres which empowers more than 9, 000 young adults annually; the construction of rehabilitation centre for victims of abuse and human trafficking as well as the provision of an enabling environment for learning and teaching.
Adefulire said that the Fashola administration affirmative action through those programmes had lowered the cases of child abuse in the state, but challenged that total eradication is the target and enjoined all stakeholders to rise up and ensure the target is met.
Director General of CBAAC, Prof Babawale, said the summit became necessary in view of the recent disturbing images of avoidable and preventable crises going on in the country and the African continent.
He explained that CBAAC’s decision to partner Vanguard Media Limited was informed by the premium it placed on the child’s growth and development.
Babawale said: “As parents we are important in determining the future of our children, the more we invest in our children, the more we guarantee prosperous future for them and ourselves.
“This summit is, therefore, a clarion call on parents to invest and give more time to their children in order to make them good and useful citizens to themselves, their parents and our country Nigeria.”
He urged parents to restore the family, African values of honesty, integrity, honour, respect and hard work “so that we can bring up our children in the right path from which they will not depart even at adulthood.”
Babawale stressed that government at all levels must faithfully implement legislations that protect the rights of the African child such as the United Nations Convention on Rights of the child, African charter on Human and peoples’ Rights and the Child Rights Act.