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By: Ade Adeleke
Ondo state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Monday declared that the National Children’s Day celebration provided an opportunity for the state government to actualise his administration’s commitment to the promotion of children rights.
This is just as he urged parents to keep vigil and take good care of their children to prevent from taking to criminal activities such as hard drug abuse.
The governor noted that the children’s day also reflected on the role and responsibilities of government and parents towards the actualization of these rights in the past four years as well as set an agenda for improvement of their wellbeing for the next four years and beyond.
Akeredolu stated this at the celebration of this year’s National Children’s Day held at Arcade Ground, Igbatoro Road, Akure.
The governor said it was pertinent to note that the past four years had been very challenging and rewarding in the efforts to improve the welfare of Nigerian Children.
According to him, the National Campaign on Ending Violence Against Children, launched on 15th September 2015 with the aim to galvanize action to end violence against children by the year 2030 was followed by the Commemoration of the End Violence Against Children campaign in 2016.
He said “Gladly many States have followed up with their own campaigns to end violence against children. Furthermore, at the Federal level, priority actions on Violence against Children have been developed to guide Ministries, Departments and Agencies to develop interventions to respond to Ending Violence against Children.
“These efforts have earned Nigeria the honour of being acclaimed a Pathfinder Country on Violence against Children by the Global Partners on Ending Violence Against Children. Similarly, the End Child Marriage launched in November 2016, was followed up with the development of a National Strategy to End Child Marriage.
“In the same way, the Home Grown School Feeding Programme initiated in 2015 has continued to improve the nutritional intake of children especially in States where the programme is operational and has helped to enhance school enrollment considerably as well as create jobs, promote agricultural activities for food products and sales outlets.
“We will continue to expand this progamme to reach all eligible children nationwide. As we launch into the Next Level within the next four years, we hope to provide the appropriate environment for children to attain their full potential.
Akeredolu expressed dismay on how some children at all levels of education attainment were engaging in unwholesome practice which is considered a medical disease, stressing that majority of them now experience mental health challenges, temporary or permanent absence, and eventually become school dropouts.
He said other consequences include increased violence and crimes, HIV/AIDS, rape, and secret cult activities amongst others which impacted negatively on healthcare delivery system, socio – economic indices and general wellbeing of our citizens.
According to the governor “This administration is very concerned about the impact of drug and substance abuse. As Government and parents, we are desirous of building a better future for our children because children of today are the leaders of tomorrow and if we allow drugs or other ills to destroy our children today, we are destroying our future,”
Akeredolu urged all Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Civil Society Organizations, International partners, Religious leaders, Traditional rulers, the teachers and most importantly, parents and adolescents themselves to work together in commitment to address the challenges of drug abuse to avert the consequences of this social menace and secure a better future for our children and the Nation.
“We also plan to improve immunization coverage and interventions to eliminate communicable and non-communicable diseases for children as measures of reducing infant mortality.