Dear young friends, sure we are doing well today. For me, I am doing splendid. It has been a very busy season for me travelling the length and breadth of this great nation in pursuit of your cause, preaching the Gospel According to Child Protection. Before you say, ‘but I am not a child,’ permit me to announce to you that according national and international law, ‘a child is anyone below the age of 18 years.’ This morning again, I am in the Coal City, Enugu pleading the cause your cause on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, working with UNICEF and UNFPA. Please pray for me that the good Lord will keep me and make His face shine upon this noble cause and give us wisdom and solutions in our deliberations.
Today, permit me to take a break from my series on Personal Safety and Self-Protection to bring you into the discussion this morning as to whether or not schools all over the federation should open on Monday, September 22 as directed by the Federal Government. You will recall that resumption was postponed because of Ebola.
I think two issues are of concern to me here. The first is that I have observed the situation and the heated debate and I have seen the common error. You have not been involved in the debate. Adults, who think they know better, have been speaking for you as usual. They have neglected your right to participation, which says you must be allowed to participate in matters, which concerns your throughs on varied ways of communication. I see that nobody has involved you in the matter, seeking your opinion. I think your opinion on this issue matters. You are the ones, who is being asked to return to school, your thought must be called for as a matter of urgency and necessity. I agree that parents, teacher, public health practitioners and the general public must be engaged, but I wonder why we always find it difficult to involve you in the matter, knowing that you are the primary focus of the issue at hand.
What I am doing today is to provide you a platform to project your voice. What exactly do you think about this resumption? Is it safe for you?
Permit me to round up with the second issue: I think the debate really should not be whether you should resume school or not, no matter how long you have stayed at home. Please note that in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where Ebola is spreading like wild fire, the debate cannot be how long children have been at home. The question will always be how prepared are governments at all levels to ensure that children are protected. Government at this state must answer this question in dual capacity. First, in their capacity as education providers, who run public schools and secondly as regulatory bodies, who regulate private schools. I think the question about how prepared can only be answered when we know the true state of Ebola in Nigeria. When I say prepared, I am asking what are the preventive measures, we have put in place to protect children?
I invite you this morning to join the debate. Let me have your views. I am signing out here. Greetings to you from the Coal City. I will see you next week. Stay SMART!