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Author: Jide Dolapo
Posted to the web: 9/19/2005 8:13:42 AM

I recently read an article on this website that focussed on the challenges faced by the Nigerian Child,with a brief description of the daily hardship encountered by two examples from the numerous children, that parade the streets.I was baffled and saddened at the same time, as it appears not much is changing positively, on the contrary, things appear worse. Some years ago, i conducted a dissertation on the same Child Labour/Vagrancy/Street Children, (the list of assigned titles is probably endless) at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, unfortunately, it appears we have not really moved too far ahead from this junction.
We constantly harp on the same issue without appropriately directing the blame and possibly the solution to the right quarters. It was rather amusing that the thrust of the present efforts is towards legislations.This undoubtably has a role to play, though the underlying perenial issue of enforcement will probably cripple this and turn it into another meaningless paperwork from the House of Assembly, like many of its kind. However, I clearly disagree with the relevance of legislation instituted before the introduction of appropriate policies that consider the health and education of the children as being of paramount importance, shown evidently by allocated funds channelled by the states into these areas. I consider doing anything otherwise as simply putting the cart before the horse...an exercise in futility, making progress in such a circumstance is not a very likely option.
To further understate this, is to direct a simple question to the proponents of
legislation, which is....when street trading and child labour is made illegal, what alternative arrangements have we put in place to cater for the health,education and general well being of these children, since quite evidently the parents lacked these resources?
 
For years we have written papers,given lectures, delivered speeches on the precarious and pitiful state of the Nigerian(African) child, up to a level , i occasionally wonder if it actually is not becoming an enjoyable, meaningless rant, because, years on we have done absolutely nothing about it, only talk and write papers.There is not a doubt that we are breeding a legion of poorly educated,poorly fed, frustrated youths and a quick glance to the future is rather frightening and best imagined.
 
I believe the time to act is now. The focus should be on changes in policies to suit the needs of the children, in terms of health, education, training in vocations. When we have the appropriate and functioning policies in place, then legislations can be introduced to ensure that no child is deprived.
The era of children on street corners,begging for alms, trading on highways seemingly with a deathwish, should stop.
 
 
Jide Dolapo
Paediatrician
UK


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