A non-government organisation (NGO), SeeJoy Foundation International, recently held the maiden edition of the Nigerian Children Awards in Lagos to recognise and honour valiant children.
“Leah Sharibu provoked us to organise the awards. Her courage at that age to stake her life in defence of her religion shows that there are more Nigerians who are like her,” the executive director, Pastor Prosper Kanayo, said.
“We visited public schools in the riverine areas. Some of them are decrepit, yet they produce students with a lot of nerve. We had awardees from Benue, Anambra, Imo and Lagos states.”
Dean, African Institute of Spiritual Education, Rev. Ladi Thompson, said, until a nation realised that its people were its greatest assets, the nation would remain underdeveloped.
Thompson, who was the keynote speaker, said the degree of civilisation in a nation was not measured by the number of skyscrapers or flat screen television sets it has: “It is the attention it pays to the most vulnerable members of its society. The protection, nurture and care that are lavished on the aged, persons with disabilities and infants are the best measures of civilisation.”
Commissioner for Education, Lagos State, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, commended the NGO for sharing the ideals the state cherishes, which are anchored on self-belief, self-concept and positive attitude for every child to break limits.
Represented by the director, secondary schools, Mr. Awanbioko Adeyemi, the commissioner noted that: “We appreciate any NGO that is on the same page with our vision for a technologically-oriented education and not the kind of cognitive we had in the past. We want education that is creative and can bring about the total development of the child. The ministry would be ready to partner with any organisation that moves in that line.”
She said the ministry was bringing various innovations to train the child beyond the four walls of the classroom, adding that tablets had been distributed to primary school teachers.
“We no longer want our teachers to rely on markers and boards, but tablets. For the past few weeks, government has been able to build some schools, improve the classrooms by renovating them. In this year’s budget, the allocation for education is specifically meant for the improvement of education infrastructure. And before the next one or two years, the changes in education infrastructure of the state would be visible,” she said.
Speaking on the topic “Understanding the individual,” researcher, Terseer Shina Kosu, noted that no two individuals were emotionally the same. He said, “If there is a problem with an individual of a particular tribe, it has nothing to do with the whole tribe. Some of the contemptible behaviours we see in an individual from a particular tribe are not enough to conclude that everyone from the tribe does the same. Don’t see anyone from a tribal viewpoint but first as an individual.”
Motivational speaker, Eric Okonmadu, told the children that they would decide the direction of their own lives. He urged them to embrace the emerging globalisation made possible by the internet.
“The world has become a global village and many businesses are being done via the internet. It has made the world to shrink with opportunities,” he said.
He listed some principles that should guide a child who wants to succeed in life: “Guard your mind with diligence, set goals, inculcate the spirit of discipline and learn to say no.”
Emmanuel Babalola, an 18-year-old man hospitalised for six months following a surgery to remove a strange growth in his foot and back, got an award for courage and audacity. While undergoing treatment, he was able to write his West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) and got credit in seven subjects, including English and Mathematics.
Mr. Agirigba Dominic, an indigene of Konshisha area of Benue State, received an award for intercepting child traffickers, while Lillian Vincent-Odey Oluwaseun, a 400 level student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was rewarded for her regular eye screening advocacy and prevention of glaucoma.
There were awards for innovation and creativity, potential and excellence as well as children’s champions. More than 28 awards were given to children and champions of their cause at the event. Founder, Heart of Gold Children’s Hospice, Mrs. Theresa Adedoyin, was also recognised for her humanitarian work for children.