Edo engages children on the streets, pledges commitment to end harmful child practices
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Edo engages children on the streets, pledges commitment to end harmful child practices

The Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki-led administration has begun the programme to engage children living on the street in meaningful endeavours as part of activities commemorating the International Day of the African Child.

The move via the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues in collaboration with the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin City through the Justice Development and Peace Center (JDPC), Living your Dreams Initiative and Firm Foundation is geared towards providing for and sheltering the children living on the streets as well as engaging them in acquiring skills and or education for the betterment of their future.

Addressing the children and other stakeholders, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues, Mrs Barbara Nekpen Osobajo who was represented by the Director, Child Development, Mrs. Kate Bello iterated that no child should be exempted from the protections and goodness the society has to offer, saying that "Every child has the right to good healthcare, education family life, and protection from exploitation and violence amongst others".

Decrying the hardships the children face especially in the aspect of insecurity, lack of basic education, proper healthcare alongside other societal hazards, she said that it is the recognition of these that the Governor, Godwin Obaseki tailored this year's celebration of the International Day of the African Child to the need to listen to, cater for and better the lives of these children and protect their rights.

Osobajo added that since the domestication of the Child Rights Law in the state, the government has made commendable strides in nipping practices that are inimical to the well-being of the Edo state child in the bud. She said "we would recall that this year, the State Government launched the Edo State Social Protection Policy to protect vulnerable persons in the state including children on the street and currently, the Edo state Child Rights Law is under review in a bid to explore more ways to enhance proper child welfare in the state"

As for the perpetrators of acts infringing on the rights of children, Osobajo warned that if caught, the full weight of the law will be meted out to them.

while also speaking, the Archbishop of the Benin Archdiocese, Most Rev. Dr. Augustine Obiora Akubeze represented by Rev. Fr. Benedict Onwugbenu told the children that the Catholic Church is ready to partner with Edo State Government and bring succour to the street children.

In his words, "wherever the Ministry wants the Catholic Church to collaborate in this project for street children, the Catholic Church is available to collaborate with you. If you are willing to take children off the street, the Catholic Church is ready to support and the activity of today is geared towards our children so that they will make a firm decision that they want to leave the street and the number willing to leave the street or the number willing to learn a skill will be taught skills because your life is precious." 

He further enjoined the children to pass the message to the others that apart from skills, those intending to get educated will also be given the opportunity by the church to do so for free however, they would have to pass through the Ministry for documentation before the church can take over.

He rounded up by stating the negative effects of drug abuse, hence that children should desist from such practices.

Also speaking, the Director of Colrons Construction Nigeria limited Mr. Eromosele Peter Jatto, encouraged the children to strive to become better no matter the difficulties they face, citing himself who was once a child living on the streets as an example. He further pledged his support to engage any of the children who are determined to learn a skill or get educated.

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