So many talk shops have been going on child labour, population explosion and family related matters calling for serious attention before they go weird. It is really a troublesome topic to discuss because many people have faced it with myopic perceptions while others have gone too sentimental about the whole matter.
Child labour is a universal phenomenon especially in underdeveloped countries, Nigeria inclusive. But I continue to wriggle in pains whenever I think about Nigeria finding it very difficult to develop amidst too much wealth and health. With such bounties bestowed on Nigeria by the Incomprehensible Almighty, I cannot find any cogent reason why Nigeria should have this menace called child labour on the increase as well as remain underdeveloped. I do not subscribe to some arguments that it is a curse because our leaderships had failed us.
Children below the age of maturity are exclusive responsibility of their parents. Their feeding, clothing, education, health and maintenance should be completely taken care of by their parents most especially their male parent. Duties of both parents of a child are clearly stated in Holy Scriptures and practically demonstrated by the best of humanity. Even today, some people are guided by the spirit of God and humanity, and they can never subject their God-given innocent children to hardship and the hostilities of life.
Except for a child whose both parents are dead; this is God's making and God's decision in this respect often has very remote positive consequences which man often never comprehend. And in the cause of putting up a challenge against God's decision, such child goes off-track. A child here means a grown-up. Otherwise, God will send a good Samaritan to the tender one as saviour.
In Nigeria, our streets and markets are eyesore with very small innocent children exposed to the queers of the society, hawking, stealing, pick-pocketing, wandering and even begging for food. Why? Why? Why, dear parents? If you are alive under whatever condition, why should you allow your three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten year old child to go out and hawk to feed you and pay his or her school fees? Remember that God gave them to you as trust. Remember that many people have remained sad because they cannot hear a cry from a child of their own.
There has been arguments on how many children a nuclear family should be made up of in Nigeria. It is documented on papers that each family should not have more than four children. This means that every Nigerian couple should be entitled to four children only, in an effort to control population explosion. But the questions that arise are: Will that be the solution to Nigeria's poverty pandemic, considering the fact that many African countries have little population but are worst hit be poverty, underdevelopment and child labour. Also, does it imply that Nigerian men should stop having more than one wife? And if this happens, what kind of society will Nigeria become where a quarter of its female population has no husbands?
Added to this, what is the assurance that bastards most of who are naturally the cause of our numerous societal rots will not multiply. With the set-up of today, Nigeria has a long way to go in terms of development and fight against social ills even if every family bears only one child in the next two decades. So, I think our strength for today is in our number. It is because we are many that we are blessed. It is because we are many that we have so many good heads. It is because we are many that developed countries fear us, because we cannot all be caged, monitored and undermined. It is because of this that they fear one day, one or a group from amongst the multitude will rise and change our fortunes.
However, it is quite true that poverty is the root of child labour and its attendant consequences: child abuse, child trafficking, child prostitution and even child witch-crafting. Poverty itself is the primary cause of population explosion. Find out how!
A family needs joy and social amenities. When there is no television for the parents to watch; no recreational facilities and the two monitor the movement of each other against extramarital affairs, they swallow themselves times without number and generate children. Some cannot travel outside their birth places. Some Nigerians, even married couples, have never traveled outside their villages, local government areas and states.
There is hard work that generates extra power for the men. There is idleness which invites all forms of thought. A man goes out for his daily bread but comes back without anything. The woman is angry that the family has nothing to eat in a day. There is no new experience or discussion to share between the parents. The environment is the same. All these sorrowful conditions cannot remain because human being are impatient and always in a hurry. Some people in such hurry hang themselves or abandon their matrimonial homes. Stories that attest to this abound in the cities. And other parents in an attempt to cheat and steal the time will console themselves with imaginary love. At the end, children are generated.
Therefore, the problem of child labour can only be effectively controlled when the government provides social amenities, creates jobs (not only political jobs for a few) for parents to engage, initiates and sponsors general child-basic needs and enact enabling laws to protect the child. But it must not be believed that freedom of a child should be total in such that the parents can be challenged by the child, except when the child's basic needs are not provided.
Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja E-mail: [email protected]
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