The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for extending a hand of support for two out-of-school girls in the state. The organization however implore him to put all machinery in motion to give effect to the Child Right Act that the state has domesticated more than a decade ago, noting that if it had been earlier implemented there wouldn’t be any need for him to stop his convoy to appraise out-of-school children that he found by the road side.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of the Chairman of the Centre, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “We observed the interest shown by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the plight of two out-of-school girls in the state”
“It would be recalled that the media reported that on his way to an official function recently, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu momentarily halted his convoy to attend to a disturbing situation. It was a sight of two underage girls on an errand for a bean cake vendor during school hours. The girls were expected to be in school. But, both Amarachi Chinedu, 9, and Suwebat Husseini, 12, were forced to skip school by their parents in order to serve some domestic assistance”.
The girls were going to deliver buckets of peeled beans and pepper to a grinder when the Governor sighted them at Anthony Village area. It was a glance that presented a discomforting image for Sanwo-Olu, who revved his convoy to a stop to find out the reason the girls were not in school.
Amarachi’s story left the Governor to shudder throughout the encounter. Her mother is a teacher, but the nine-year-old was not allowed to go to school because her parents could not afford the current session’s tuition fees. Amarachi would have to miss a school year because of this reason.
Suwebat’s mother is the bean cake seller for whom the girls were running an errand. Her parents, who are Jigawa State indigenes, relocated to Lagos months back. Suwebat’s four male siblings were all in school at the time she was stopped on the road by the Governor. But her parents preferred she stayed back home to help with some domestic chores.
The decisions taken by these girls’ parents, Sanwo-Olu said, “could rob the little ones of their innocence, their future and put them at a disadvantage among their peers”. The Governor stressed that his encounter with the girls left his heart bleeding.
Salvaging the situation, Sanwo-Olu, at the scene, told the girls he would personally take up the responsibility for their education and upbringing, promising to enrol them in school to continue with their education.
The anti-corruption Czar said “We will like to commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for taking this bold step aimed at returning these out-of-school girls to school. We believe there are many Amarachis and Suwebats out there who are not that lucky to encounter the Governor. To this set of children something drastic ought to be done to save them from the scourge of illiteracy.”
We also believe that if the Child Rights Acts which Lagos state has domesticated since more than a decade ago is fully implemented there wouldn’t have been any out-of-school child in the state because it would have been an offence for parents to engage their children in economic activities or for any child to roam the streets during school hours.
The CACOL Boss added, “.Section 15 sub section 1 of the Act stated that Every child has the right to free, compulsory and universal basic education and it shall be the duty of the Government in Nigeria to provide such education. Subsection (2) stated that every parent or guardian shall ensure that his child or ward attends and completes his primary and junior secondary education. Subsection (6) of the Act stipulated appropriate punishments for a parent, guardian or person who has care and custody of a child and fails in the duty imposed on him under subsection (2) of this section.
“We hope the state government would look into the implementation of this Act and all the needed financial, human and material resources would be put in place in order for the dictates of the Act to be fully implemented and thereby sow a good seed in the educational sector of the state by reducing the population of out-of-school children to the barest minimum”.