By Sam Esogwa
As the world commemorated the 2019 children’s day yesterday, the Rivers State government has promised to ensure that malnutrition, which contributes to child mortality, ends by the year 2030.
Wife of the Rivers State Governor, Justice Suzzette Eberechi Wike, who said this during the commemoration of the children’s day yesterday at Isaac Boro Park, Mile 1, Port Harcourt, noted that the drive to end malnutrition by 2030 was one of the millennium development goals of the United Nations which the Rivers State government, under her husband, Chief Barr Nyesom Wike, has keyed into.
The children’s day has been celebrated in Nigeria every 27th May since the United Nations adopted that day in 1964. It is a day when children are celebrated as future leaders and hopes of tomorrow while issues concerning them are also discussed.
The theme for this year’s celebration is: “End Malnutrition, Protect the Future of the Nigerian Child.”
Addressing the crowd of children and guests at the event yesterday, Justice Suzzette Wike, who was represented by the wife of the Rivers State Head of Service, Mrs Matilda Godwins, said: “We’re looking forward to ending malnutrition by 2030 as part of the millennium development goals of the United Nations, hence the need for education. Education is key to human life. To end malnutrition, we as parents should be able to feed our children well.”
Earlier, the Director of Social Welfare, Rivers State Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Mr Iminabo R. Fubara, in a welcome address on behalf of the ministry, said by ending malnutrition, the future of the children and society at large are protected since children are future leaders.
He said the ministry was working hard to protect Rivers children from child trafficking, physical and sexual abuse and also provide protection for child mothers and street kids.
Mr Iminabo Fubara added: “We would love to clean our streets of child hawkers and other street kids as they are regularly recruited into cult activities and robberies.
“But we are handicapped. The issue of abandonment of children at birth and various stages of their development means that government is regularly required to step in to protect and assure our collective future. But we have only one orphanage. The ministry must therefore partner with the private sector by giving their orphanages recognition to help narrow the gap.
“Unfortunately, some of them are in search of quick money and are lured into unhealthy practices that negate their existence. We therefore call on more voluntary organizations with the ability to come forward and partner with us.”
Immediate past commissioner for Women Affairs in Rivers State, Ukel Oyaghiri, explained that mothers will play a pivotal role in the quest to end child malnutrition.
“Mothers are the ones who will ensure an end to malnutrition by giving care to their children,” she said.
Dame Victoria Awuse, proprietress of Butterstone Primary School, advised mothers to breastfeed their babies well so that they will not lack the necessary nutrients that will protect them from diseases.
Many nursery, primary, secondary and paramilitary schools as well as voluntary organizations participated in the children’s day event inRivers State which featured debate and march-past competitions.
The topic of the debate was: “Healthy Nutrition Protects the Child’s Future.” In the primary school debate category, CPS Rumueme won the first prize while Abundant Grace Int’l school won the second prize.
In the secondary school debate category, Model Girls Secondary School, Rumueme, Enitonia High School and Wisdom Child International School won the first, second and third prizes respectively.
The Children’s Day originated in Turkey on April 23, 1920 and was later celebrated at the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1925.
However, the Children’s Day was first celebrated globally in October 1955, under the sponsorship of International Union for Child Welfare in Geneva.
The idea of a Universal Children’s Day was first mooted by Rubab Mansoor grade 8 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954.