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“HAPPY NEW MONTH” PEOPLE!

 

Today, as usual, I have received so many “Happy New Month” messages from friend and family!

No doubt, 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging years not just for Nigerians, but for citizens of the whole world, for obvious reasons!

By the way, Christmas is approximately 54 days away so, as we begin the first day of the second to the last month of 2020, let me just drop this polite reminder here, of the statistics regarding our children!

Nigeria’s total population according to United Nations 2017 estimate is 192,222,000…

42.54% of this number comprises of children below age of 14… that means over 70 million children live in Nigeria today.

Experts say over 30 million of this number are at risk of one form of abuse or the other.

For example, more than 15 million children, surpassing the entire population of Togo, Sierra Leone and The Gambia put together, are Almajiris and destitutes in northern Nigeria.

Over 10.5 million according to the UNICEF have dropped out of school, the largest case of such in Africa and perhaps the whole world, and alarmingly too, this number comprises mainly of the girl child.

Close to 3 million girls have been given in marriage before they attain adulthood
and as a result many have fallen victim of VVF, especially in northern Nigeria again.

Over 5 million children are either artisan (mainly in western Nigeria), sold
in child factories (mainly in eastern Nigeria), forced into sex slavery,
trafficked, killed by ritualists and or are working as child labourers across the country and also in yet undiscovered places in Nigeria…

Apart from the very popular case of the Chibok girls in 2014 and Dapchi girls in 2018, over 800,000 kids across Nigeria have been abducted for various reasons, and by those we grew up refering as “gbomo gbomo” in the
last 20 years…

Now, the most depressing, for me personally is that since 1999, according to CRARN, over 15,000 kids below the age of 15 have been accused of witchcraft by religious people and medicine men, and have thereafter either been abandoned, tortured, maimed or even killed by their own family members. And this has been especially very prevalent in Akwa Ibom State, Calabar and some other States across
Southern Nigeria. Many times, these child’s accusers charge huge sums of money for ‘exorcism’ or ‘deliverance’…

As at the last count, I think over 5 million kids have been displaced by terrorism since 2011, and are scattered across various IDP camps in northern Nigeria…

In Nigeria today, 5 in 10 children under age 5 are malnourished, stunted, wasted or overweight, while 3 in 10 aged 6 to 23 months live on poor diets. In fact, we have the second-highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32% of children under 5…

The list is endless…

Just so you know, these figures are coming from a country where according to reports, senators and House of Rep members earn a total of N128 billion annually in salaries and other benefits, and over a quarter of the national
budget is spent on reccurent expenditure and another part lost to corruption, on a yearly basis.

And it might interest you to know also that Nigeria is not short of child rights protection laws both at the State and Federal level, and infact, on the 5th of December, 2008, the then governor of the southern Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio, signed the Child Rights Act into law…

Yet, cases of all forms of child abuse continue to grow across the country by the day…

A human being is a human being, no matter how small, and in fact we adults are actually outdated children…

Going forward as a people, we must all understand that “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Happy New month everyone and God bless Nigeria!

©|Albert Afeso Akanbi

 

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