Prominent Leaders of Thoughts including the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, the Catholic Archbishop of Ibadan, Most Reverend Gabriel Leke Abegunrin, the Chief Imam of Ibadanland, Sheikh Abdul-Ganiyy Agbotomokekere, Oyo commissioner education, science and technology, Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela as well as his counterpart at the state ministry of women affairs, Mrs Atinuke Oshikoya on Tuesday led other stakeholders to call for better child rights protection in Oyo state in order to secure the future of the country and also create an enabling environment for the overall development of communities.
Other stakeholders who also lend their voice include, top government functionaries, the state security chiefs, community leaders, interest groups, scholars, teachers, members of the academic community, women groups, trade groups, civil society groups, and various non governmental organisations.
The event was the 2018 annual stakeholders conference on action against child trafficking and labour to commemorate the United Nations World Day against Child Labour. It held at the J. Travers Place, inside St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Bashorun, Ibadan.
The event with the theme “Generation: Sade and Healthy” was organized by the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan.
While giving his goodwill message as the royal father of the day, Oba Adetunji condemned the high rate of child hawkers within Ibadan metropolis and called for stronger laws prohibiting child hawking and other violations of the rights of children with emphasis on enforcement of such laws and punishment for offenders.
He stresses that children as the future of any nation requires continuous and committed investment to secure their future. He also appealed to parents and guardians to desist from every act to reduces or exposes the children to danger and hazard.
On his part, the Commissioner for Education, Science and technology, Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela said the stakeholders meeting had achieved its objectives by giving adequate information to the people and educating them on the responsibility of every individual in ensuring the rights of any child is not violated.
According to him, whatever happens today is a product of the past and whatever people do to children today have an effect on their future.
He said, “The truth is that culture and custom often times cripple the right and privileges of children but the Oyo state government is trying all within its power to ensure that the future of children within the state is not jeopardized. There are conflicting figures on out of school children in the southwest but the World Bank has given a grant to help states curb the menace.
“It is a five-year project and government is already working on ensuring all children have access to education which is a fundamental right. The way the grant works is that if you don’t perform, you cannot access funds. And I am sure we will soon nip the menace in the bud,” Olowofela said.
The Commissioner for Women affairs, Mrs Atinuke Oshunkoya also reiterated that the state government is committed to implementing the child rights law and enforcing it across every nook and cranny of the state, adding that every effort of the ministry at present is geared towards ensuring a better future devoid of abuses for every child within the state.
Oyo state Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Odude, who was represented by the state Command’s Public Relations Officer, Adekunle Ajisebutu, stated that the police is aware of the need to protect children and is willing to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that the Child Rights Law is enforced and violators punished to ensure a better future for the children and a safer environment for everyone.
He urged people to see the police as partners in progress and work with them to ensure the complete protection of children within the state.
In his welcome address, the Director of JDPC, Rev. Fr Ezekiel Ade Owoeye stated that it is evident that the problem of child trafficking and labour and other child rights abuses are as a result of poverty, overpopulation in the family, unemployment, lack of information and a willingness to exploit children among other issues.
He stated that the 2017 stakeholders conference revealed that there is a need to create more awareness and campaign, adding that, “it is apparent that many children are still being affected and are vulnerable to child trafficking and labour. There is a need for stakeholders to come up with strategic actions to contribute to curbing the problem so that children in Oyo state can represent a generation that is safe and healthy,” she said.
The guest lecturer, a child development enthusiast expert, Mr. Taiwo Akinlami who shared his personal ordeal while growing up enjoined parents to be conscious of injecting positive values and views into their children as that would sharpen their world view in their adult years.