By Funmi Ajumobi
Nigerian children have been the worst hit in Boko Haram insurgency in the northern part of the country since 2009. Children, supposed to be in school are out for fear of being killed by this sect, and parents who have been lucky to be alive keep their children at home for this same reason. The trend continues as children who were better off at the Internally Displaced People’s Camp where volunteers taught them, stay at home now for the fear of being attacked.
According to Human Rights Watch report, one million children in Nigeria have little or no access to schools as a result of Boko Haram’s attacks, robbing an entire generation of children in the North East of their education.
Now, the new militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) have started another round of unrest in the Niger Delta area and threatens to make the country ungovernable as security forces have been dispatched to the region to secure infrastructural facilities and property of citizens as well as to contain the activities of militants. The question is, where do these security forces stay?
In spite of the Nigeria government effort to curb conflict in the North and other parts of the country, it is right time for the Nigeria government to begin to look at the security forces on deployment of using schools as military camps if they sincerely want to protect rights of children. In any conflict zone, there is hardly any rights of children respected as there is violation of their rights to education, health care, leisure, even good life, just to mention but a few.
This year’s celebration of the Day of the African Child, with theme: “Conflict and Crises in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights”, is timely for government and civil society not to only celebrate it with pop and pageantry but to remember that in bringing solution to rising crisis in any region in the country, it is protecting the future leaders’ rights especially their rights to education.
To every aggrieved group in the country, let us know that next to importance to freedom and justice is education as without it, neither freedom nor justice can be guaranteed.
The Day of the African Child is commemorated every year on June 16, by member states of the African Union (AU), and its partners. This occasion is firstly a commemoration to recall the 1976 uprising s in Soweto, when a protest by school children in South Africa against apartheid-inspired education, resulted in the public killing of many unarmed young protesters by policemen.
The DAC further presents an opportunity to focus on the work of all actors committed to the rights of children in the continent, to consolidate in addressing the obstacles for realizing these rights. The DAC also provides an occasion for governments, international institutions and communities to renew their commitments towards improving the plight of children.