The Human Right Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has lamented the rise in the numbers of children as young as four who roam around traffic lights and supermarkets in Enugu, Owerri and Aba.
HURIWA in a statement made available to ND REPORTERS on Sunday also condemned the systematic neglect of Child Poverty in Igbo speaking areas by policymakers and government officials in the central and state administration.
“We have observed the sudden upsurge in the presence of a huge number of Children looking obviously malnourished, abused, dehumanized and criminally exploited, who are usually seen around traffic lights and are constantly running after motorists to beg for money, alms and for foods to eat.
“In Enugu alone, in a single night, we counted about 100 of such children, some as young as three, moving around the major roads in virtually all major traffic points. We had conversations with some of these kids and their experiences show that the South East of Nigeria is now actively broken down and is a society in search of rebuilding and mending up of the broken walls of economic prosperity, skills acquisitions, trading and the widespread deeply entrenched spirit of entrepreneurship for which the South East is known.”
“From our investigations, these children are not foreigners nor are they from the far North. So we wonder why all the interventionist programmes for the eradication of Child Poverty introduced and implemented by the United Nations and the European Union are concentrated in Northern Nigeria.
“It is a distorted perception for statisticians to continue to perpetuate the mathematical fraud that there are more poor children in the North than anywhere else.
“The practical and existential examples we saw on ground in Enugu, Owerri and Aba in Enugu State, Imo State and Abia State show that there are hundreds of thousands of very poor, neglected, abused, marginalized and dehumanized Children of South-East extraction who beg and live on the streets with all the attendant risks and dangers to their lives.
”These children are often sexually abused and totally alienated and the political class in the South East of Nigeria simply are doing nothing to bring these issues into the national discourse in the National Assembly and the mainstream media.
“What we have seen in the South East, coupled with the street children in the North and South-West show that the new study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, EIU, that ranked Nigeria as the worst place for a baby born in 2013 is still fresh and indeed what the World’s Richest man Bill Gates said about Nigeria as the worst place for babies to be born in 2020 tallies with the report done in 2013 by the Economist and from what we see on ground this critical human right violation of the rights of the Nigerian Children have not been addressed institutionally and programmatically,”HURIWA said.
HURIWA also noted the need to correct the wrong perception of the prosperity of the South East of Nigeria adding that the reality is that due to lack of good governance and the high rates of government corruption amongst the governors of the South East of Nigeria and the poor representation of the zone by elected national and state parliamentarians, hundreds of thousands of children are languishing in massive poverty, dehumanization and are subjected to all sorts of human rights violations including sexual and physical harassment and abuses and rapes if the most violent types.
“We are calling on all the South-East Senators, House of Representatives Members from the South East of Nigeria and the governors to tackle the growing social menace of street children of Igbo extraction in the East of Nigeria by introducing skills acquisitions training for single mothers and indigent women with kids so they are economically empowered to take care of their children and keep them away from the streets.
“The South-East should introduce social welfare centers for these kids on the streets. We expect the State governors to keep children off the streets and in their schools by creating the enabling environment for conducive learning and by adequately feeding these children in line with the UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION ACT of Nigeria which mandates governments of the States to educate their children of their States qualitatively and free of tuition charges up until their third year in high schools.