From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Emeritus Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Oniayekan, has expressed concern over the increasing number of out-of-school children in the country.
The cleric, who spoke at the premiere of a movie: ‘The Oratory’ produced by the Salesians of Don Bosco in Abuja, stated that such children get exposed to radicalisation and other nefarious activities.
“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 north is the fact that they have millions of young people who never went through school. Ten 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.”
He applauded the producers of the movie, which he said 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.
Executive producer of the movie, Revered Father Cyril Odia, said the idea of the movie stemmed from the plight of abandoned children and how they could be assisted to become useful to the society.