- Some prominent Africans, including Nigerians, have been recognised by an international NGO for outstanding commitment to child rights in the African continent
- Corporate organisations also were given recognition for contributing to children development in Africa
- The recognition was bestowed on the corporations and individuals by the African Child Foundation in Lagos
An international non-governmental organization, the African Child Foundation, has given recognition to prominent African leaders who have made significant impact in their various spheres of endeavours.
The event was put together by the international NGO to commemorate the 2017 international day of the African child and held in Lagos, Nigeria’s business hub.
Country director of the NGO, Mr. Donaldson Onosakponome, listed prominent leaders of thought who were honoured to include President Uhuru Kenyata of Kenya; former Nigeria’s education minister, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili; Chief Joop Berkhout; Clay Neff, president of Chevron, Africa and Latin America exploration and production and Stanbic IBTC pension managers.
He also listed renowned musician, Tee Mac; Niger Delta rights activist, Annkio Briggs; Cross River state deputy governor, Mrs. Ipalibo Banigo, Francis Agoda, aka I-Go-Die and others which the NGO said it painfully selected following their success stories from their various fields of endeavours.
He said the prize was given following the outstanding commitment of the awardees to child right issues in the African continent.
According to Onosakponome, the African Child Foundation which hosted of the African child prize, the international day of the African child is observed in June annually.
Speaking with NAIJ.com in Asaba on the conferment of the African child prize at the weekend in Lagos, Onosakponome said the theme of this year’s award is: “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunity.”
The prize was first established by the organisation of the African Unity (now African Union) in 1991 and aims at raising awareness for the situation of children in Africa as well as on the need for continuing improvement in child education.
“Today, we honour some individuals and corporate organisations that have added value to the African child. We need more people like these role models who care about the future of our children by training, empowering and equipping them; without a responsible society, sleep becomes elusive for all and a responsible society is an offshoot of good neighbourliness and parenting,” Onosakponome said
Onosakponome further said that Nigeria was chosen to host the dinner for the 2017 African child prize for her massive role in the return of the Chibok girls and called for sustained involvement of individuals and corporate organisations in alleviating poverty and empowering children and women, who are among the most vulnerable to social vices.
“There is need to create an atmosphere for the protection of the African child. There is also need to ensure zero tolerance for child abuse. We say no to child labour! It is criminal under the law to hire a child or minor as house helps and sales persons.
“It is unfortunate that research findings in the country shows that most families who indulge in child labour often ensure that their own children attend school to get quality education, leaving someone's children to do the household chores.”
He, however, warned that the innocent child hired without education will impact negatively on their lives and the lives of their children, that is, some negative values the house helps and street hawkers must have adopted in the streets as a chain reaction.
He described recipients of the 2017 African child prize as role models concerned about the future of the African child and the continent.
Other individuals and organisations that were also presented different awards during the event were Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, Adonijah Owiriwa, Mr. Tom A. O. Imokhai, Hon. (Chief) Raphael Egaga Okaruefe, Jubilee Life Mortgage Bank, Mr Julius Rone, Mrs. Joan Agha, Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited, Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo, Executive Director, Projects NDDC, Engr. Samuel Ajenakevwe Adjogbe, Chief Sir Edward Nkwegu.
The well-attended event also featured the induction of Dr Oby Ezekwesili, Chief Joop Berkhout, Dr Mrs. Ipalibo Banigo, Engr. (Dr.) Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, Annkio Briggs and Prof Oladapo Ashiru as members of the advisory board. Famous musician, Tee-Mac as well as Cobhams Asuquo and Francis Agoda a.k.a. ‘I Go Dye Comedian and Tee Mac Musician were made ambassadors of the African Child Foundation respectively.
In a remark, Oby Ezekwesili observed: “One of the critical factors that we have found responsible for the poor performance of Africa is the absolute disrespect for the dignity of human life; the fact that the dignity of human life is not in any way prioritized in our society.
“This is dangerous because, frankly speaking, the African environment rewards more of natural resources endowment than human capital. Also, when people die or people get missing, people frankly don’t care because it’s not going to stop some money getting into the public treasury.
“So, everybody just looks away; but in other societies the loss of one person means everything because they are worried about what they stand to lose in the absence of that individual.
“So, for 219 girls to have gone missing from their school hostel there was no way for all of us as a people to have looked the other way and said to ourselves that it doesn’t matter.
“For me, this society needs to keep emphasizing to our children that in this society we have got their back no matter where the child is from; whether from the East, West, North or South, they represent the best we can possibly have.”
Annkio Briggs, a Niger Delta activist, emphasized the need to increase awareness on the dangers of child labour while thanking the African Child Foundation for standing tall in the campaign against child labour.
The African child prize has previously been bestowed on former Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Prof Pat Utomi, Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Deaconess Joan Olatoyosi Ayo, Bishop Hassan Matthew Kukah, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Mrs. Joe Odumakin, among others.
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