By Chikaodi Chukwuleta, Chigozie Anueyiagu,
Vivian Onwuka and Michael Ezenwata
SECURITY agencies have been directed to improve efforts at protecting children from danger and violence in line with the 2003 Child Rights Acts, of the 1999 Constitution.
The directive was contained in President Mohammadu Buhari’s presidential address delivered by Governor Willie Obaino at the 2018 Children’s Day Celebration at Dr Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka.
The state deputy governor, Nkem Okeke delivered the presidential speech on behalf of the governor, in which President Buhari reassured that the present administration is highly committed to the protection of children, saying that the celebration affords the opportunity to reflect on the collective roles and responsibilities of parents and leaders towards the children, as well as assess how far they have fared.
Citing the home grown school feeding program, across the country, he emphasised that the present administration has lived up to one of its cardinal objectives of provision of quality education to children, describing it as a fundamental foundation for economic and social development.
While calling on stakeholders to support the home grown school feeding program to ensure that the thirty six states and capital are covered, due to its many benefits, President Buhari highlighted other issues being addressed as it concerns the children including child protection, participation and survival, among others.
Meanwhile, Governor Willie Obiano has reiterated that one of the cardinal objectives of his administration is provision of quality education as a fundamental of economic and social development.
Obiano, who was represented by his deputy, charged parents to embrace the responsibility of taking care of the children as they are their future.
The governor said that every parent and government should provide security for their children, assuring that the school feeding programme is going on in different schools across the state.
According to him, “security of children is a collective effort of both parents and government. As a parent, it is left for you to monitor your children’s movement to avoid them roaming the streets.”
In her address, the Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Ndidi Mezue, commended the wife of the governor, Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano for her special intervention on the children through her pet project, ‘Caring Enhancement Family Initiative’.
According to her, “Anambra State Government has ensured sustenance of good maternal and child healthcare programme, paying of salaries to parents for them to take care of their children, upgrade and repairing of school infrastructure to ensure conducive learning environment.”
The commissioner, who further stated that the primary function of parents is to attend to their children as it is not the sole responsibility of the government alone, stressed that government has set up committee to eradicate child hawking, as well as punish parents who force their children to hawk during school days.
The Commissioner for Local Art Works and Tourism, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, revealed that there is ongoing dialogue between her ministry and that of education to make sure that culture and tourism is introduced in the school curriculum in Anambra State.
Contributing, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mrs. Rita Maduagwu, who advised parents not to see schools as a dumping ground for their children, saying the house should be the fundamental place for learning, charged parents to teach the children good morals so they will not deviate from it in future.
In her remarks, Speaker of Children’s Parliament in the state, Faustina Okoye, appealed to the law enforcement agencies to create special child units in all police stations mainly for children to make them comfortable while reporting any abuse against them.
Miss Okoye also requested that rehabilitation and correction centers should be set up for children who have broken serious laws. “Government through the Ministry of Education should mandate all the schools in Anambra to establish the Child Rights Club as it will create forum for children to interact on what is happening in their surroundings. Corporal punishment should be abolished in all secondary schools”.
In an interview, the Pricipal, Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka, Rapheal Anaekokwu who expressed joy that his school excelled in the competition , noted that in future, assessment in the match past competition should be separated with a view to judging the male and female schools separately as obtained in the developed countries.
Earlier in a pre-Chidren’s Day Press Briefing, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare, Children and Women Affairs, Dr Azuka Ofomata, observed that a lot of children are seen hawking during school hours, stating that such children, if caught, would be sent to rehabilitation centre in Abagana, in Njikoka LGA, where they will be trained in vocational skills.
According to him, the place will serve as reforming centre where any child with medical issues and those with emotional instability will be taken care of.
He also informed that parents of children caught hawking during school hours will be prosecuted.