By Solomon Umanah
As Akwa Ibom children joined the rest of their counterparts across the country in celebrating year 2022 National Children’s Day, a call has gone to parents, guardians, and other stakeholders to redouble efforts in meeting the needs and expectations of their families, particularly children.
The commissioner for women affairs and social welfare, Dr Ini Adiakpan, who made the call, recently, during the celebration of this year’s Children’s Day in Uyo, reasoned, “since the family is the bedrock of Child upbringing in any society, adequate attention must be given to the moral, spiritual, social and psychological needs of our children to make them useful and better adults as they grow up.”
Adiakpan, who described the theme for this year’s celebration, “Strengthening Supportive Systems for the Protection of the Nigerian Child: A Wake Up Call,” as timely and instructive, said considering the various societal dangers confronting children such as rape, child trafficking, cultism, drug abuse, gender bias, child theft and child abandonment by parents, it was incumbent on the parents, guardians and the larger society to be responsive to issues affecting the growth and development of children, pointing out that, “if this is done, it is possible that we shall begin to have less number of inmates at the state remand home and similar places,” she maintained.
The women affairs boss, who lauded Gov Udom Emmanuel whom she described as child-friendly governor, for ensuring the evolvement of policies and programmes geared toward strengthening various supportive systems and institutions in the state, observed that millions of children through such initiative had been given solid platforms to explore their talents so as to attain enviable heights in their chosen careers and other endeavours.
She noted that the Udom Emmanuel led administration in Akwa Ibom had made conscious efforts at revamping education sector through massive rehabilitation and building of schools as well as provision of state-of-the art facilities to enhance teaching and learning in the various schools.
Adiakpan further disclosed that the governor had, in collaboration with the State House of Assembly, ensured that critical children-oriented laws were made to protect children in the state, thereby giving them safe and conducive environment to live, pointing out that Akwa Ibom was one of the few states in Nigeria where the Child Rights law and related laws had been successfully domesticated.
She equally lauded the governor’s wife, Dr Martha Emmanuel, for championing the cause of children through her pet project, the Family Empowerment and Youth Re-orientation Path-Initiative (FEYReP), pointing out that the 5-point agenda of the project had impacted positively on the lives of children and other persons in the state.
While re-assuring the children of the State government’s continued protection through her ministry, the women affairs boss urged Akwa Ibom children to shun social vices such as cultism, prostitution, drug abuse, rape and other anti-social behaviours, which she observed, had currently become the norms in some schools in the state.
She however, thanked the development partners, the judiciary, FIDA and other adjudicators for their collaborative efforts with the ministry to ensure full implementation of relevant children-oriented policies and programmes in the state.
Rev Utibeno Udo, who drew her message from Psalms 127:3-5, admonished children to shun delinquent acts and take responsibilities for their lives by being obedient to their parents and constituted authorities.
She particularly urged them to concentrate on their studies in order to have a secure future, stressing, “If you don’t pass your exams, you cannot go to a higher institution or have that glorious future you so desire.
The speaker of the Akwa Ibom Children’s Parliament, Miss Rhoda Oliver, thanked Governor Emmanuel for giving members of the Children’s Parliament the needed platform for expression and learning, as well as granting approval for the celebration of this year’s children’s day.
Oliver described Child Protection as the safeguarding of children from violation, exploitation, neglect and abuse, saying it was the collective responsibility of the entire society to ensure that children were given adequate protection starting from their families to the larger society.
She listed the supportive systems for the protection of Nigerian Children as the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Justice, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Police and other security agencies as well as the schools and the family.
Oliver specifically appreciated the governor for ensuring the protection of the rights of Akwa Ibom children through the implementation of the content of the Child Rights law in the state.
The occasion, which featured traditional dances and march past by school children and voluntary organizations was witnessed by some members of the Akwa Ibom executive council, permanent secretaries, parents, teachers and some heads of participating schools.