From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Emeritus Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has expressed concern over the increasing number of out-of-school children milling the streets.
Onaiyekan stated that such kids get exposed to radicalisation and other nefarious activities.
He spoke at the premiere of a movie titled, ‘The Oratory’ produced by the Salesians of Don Bosco at the weekend in Abuja.
He said, “this question of abandoned children is not new. It has been in the world almost from time immemorial just that nowadays, in this age and year 2021, there ought not to be any more children abandoned.
“Right now, where are all the criminals coming from? Go to Kuje prison and find out the ages of the people who end up in jail.
“Those who are now insurgents and bandits, information reaching us, is that many of the heads of those bandits are all young people, because of the way they have been trained.
“So, it shows immediately and you don’t have to wait for 10 or 20 years to see the implications of not doing anything to tackle the menace of street children.
A major concern for the elite in the Northern Nigeria is the fact that they have millions of young people who never went through school.
“10 years ago, these youths were children, but today they are teenagers and young men who have no skill of any sort, and they are ready to be recruited to do anything.
“Today, we are already facing it, and if we say that security is very difficult, this is one of the reasons why. It is not too late, if we decide to work seriously about it.
“It’s not only the children of the rich people who deserve to be alive, the children of the poor also have a future. Some of the poor children of today can be important people tomorrow. I think the film has made the case very strongly and very clearly.”
While congratulating the producers of the movie, he said, “the film has brought in the religious aspects, because in many of these things you need to have a religious enthusiasm, because you will not make money doing this kind of thing.
“I am happy that the work of the Salesians of Don Bosco is brought to the highlight in this film. Of course, they are not the only ones that are looking after abandoned youths and children, but they specialise in this because of their founder Don Bosco who spent most of his time looking after abandoned children.
Executive Producer of the movie, Revered Father Cyril Odia, said the idea of the movie stemmed from plights of abandoned children and how they could be assisted to become useful to the society.
He said, “The attempt of this movie is to call for action. As Salesians, we believe in faith in action. If we don’t multiply that effect and get more partners to come on board, we can foresee that there is going to be disaster. The more young people are increasing on the street, the more the threat of insecurity.
“The movie has received a very positive and heartwarming response from two categories of viewers. For some viewers, the positive ending of the story confirms the desire for good to always overcome evil especially in the light of modern-day Christian persecution.
“For other viewers the movie gives hope about the Catholic mission to young and poor people who often have little or no hope in politicians. Many got a validation of the idea that religion has a lot of capacity to bring about social change.”
“The film is produced and directed by the Nigerian director, Obi Emelonye with Rich Lowe Ikenna in the leading role.
“It also stars Rich Lowe Ikenna, an American-born actor of Nigerian and Panamanian – Central American descent and Enyinna Nwigwe, a Nigerian actor who has appeared in over 30 cinema films, including Black November, where he played a leading role alongside Hollywood great actors like Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Akon, Wyclef Jean, and Anne Heche.”