It is with great delight that I address you, dear promising children and the entire good people of Ondo State at the grand finale of year 2024 Edition of the National Children’s Day Celebration. I congratulate all the children on this special day dedicated annually to honour them and focus on issues bordering on their welfare and general well-being.

I am aware that the theme for this year’s celebration is “Building a Brighter Future for Our Children”. I am deeply convinced that this theme must have been carefully chosen having in mind that our children are not just the future leaders; they are the architect of tomorrow’s world. It is, therefore, our collective responsibility to provide them with necessary tools, opportunities, support and guidance to flourish and succeed, considering the envisioned future for them. This, therefore, brings to the fore the need for adequate protection for all children irrespective of their background, location, religious or ethnic affiliation so that the dream of a brighter future for them will not be an illusion.

The above assertion, therefore, means that there should be concerted efforts in investing in our children’s education, healthcare, safety and conducive environments where their potential can be achieved as there is no sacrifice that can be too big to make for them. It is in this regard that we have set machinery in motion to recruit large number of teachers in both public primary and secondary schools across the State to cover the gaps created in the learning and teaching processes occasioned by mandatory retirement of qualified teachers in our schools. It is our strong belief that the mass recruitment of teachers in schools will go a long way to prepare and secure that brighter future for our children.

Dear children and distinguished dignitaries, it would be recalled that the School Shuttle Programme became moribund shortly after the “END SARS” protest some years back. The non-availability of the services of the School Shuttle Programme, no doubt, brought untold hardship to hundreds of parents and thousands of students. In our deliberate effort to ensure that students and pupils have no excuse to be away from school as a result of the current economic situation in the country, so that the hope of that brighter future for them will not be a mirage, we decided to resuscitate the School Shuttle Programme to alleviate the burden of daily provision of fund by parents to finance their children’s transportation to school. It may interest you to note that we have recently added new fleet of vehicles to those on ground to ensure wider coverage. It is equally no longer news that the State Government paid the WAEC registration fees for all students in public secondary schools across the State for the current academic session so that no one will have the excuse of not being able to sit the examination because of inability to pay the required fees.

The issue of healthcare for children and other residents of the State is not also being overlooked. Recently, some health workers were recruited while many more are in the process of being recruited into the State workforce due to the dearth of health personnel in almost all the health facilities across the State, not as a result of our own making, but a situation dumped on us by the ‘japa’ syndrome. Closely related to this is the flag-off of the administration of the Human Papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine that we all witnessed today. This vaccine, which has the female gender as its target is said to be very effective when administered on children between the ages of 9 and 14. Hence, our resolve to flag-off its administration on this day that coincides with the celebration of the Children’s Day. This shows the kind of premium we place on our children’s healthcare as this will go a long way to prevent the incidence of cervical cancer among the female populace.

My dear people, building a brighter future for our children requires more than just government’s actions alone, it requires the collective efforts of families, communities and the society at large. It further behoves us to lead by example, to instil in our children the core values of kindness, empathy and resilience. Kindly permit me, therefore, to reaffirm our commitment to our children, families, community and the entire society as a responsible and responsive Government. We shall continue to give priority attention to all matters that will bring about the best in our children knowing fully well that this will be a very profitable investment which we are bound to reap therefrom in the nearest future when we are old and unable to occupy the centre stage as we now do. Our investment in our children now is directly related to securing our future and old age.

Ladies and gentlemen I, therefore, wish to assure you that we shall not fold our hands from implementing these child-friendly policies and programmes and many more in the years to come for the well-being and all-round development of our wonderful children to prepare them positively to dominate the global space in no distant time.

It is, however, quite disheartening to note that many of our children have been subjected to violence and sexual exploitation by some adults that are supposed to care for them and protect them. This is highly unacceptable and we shall continue to put up serious fight against these inhuman and ungodly practices by some unscrupulous elements in the society. Dear children, be assured that our government shall continue to promote and empower the various institutions established by law such as the Family (Children) Courts for the observance of children’s rights in the State. We shall remain undaunted in our decision to continue to prosecute abusers of children’s right, especially those involved in sexual and other dehumanising abuses. This resolution is in the light of the realisation that there is no duty more important than ensuring that children are adequately protected and free from fear of any kind, so as to enable them make use of their various talents for the development and benefit of mankind.

To this end, I want to express my profound appreciation to all the security agencies in the State for their very good working relationship and collaboration with the government and particularly the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development on Child rights protection. I am aware that this healthy synergy has been responsible for the success achieved on child protection matters in the State in recent times. I appeal to you to continue the good work. The Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development will continue to be empowered to enable it effectively coordinate the activities of all stakeholders including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) involved in child protection services in the State, while necessary support shall also continue to be given to all security agencies such that the onerous and important task of providing security for the citizenry with special focus on children will continue unhindered.

To our dear teachers, I wish to charge you to always be model for moral excellence. Not only this, I equally enjoin you to continue to put yourselves in positions where the pupils/students under your care will see you as a very strong source of protection for their rights and against all forms of abuse. Let me sincerely thank you for your love and care for the children.

Dear children, you also have responsibilities and roles to play to secure the envisioned brighter future. I charge you to be security conscious and be vigilant at all times while challenging you to be bold enough to report any suspicious movement around your home or school to your parents and teachers as the case may be for necessary prompt actions. I enjoin you to avoid bad companies and do not stay in places that are isolated where you can easily be objects of attack.

As for us, we will continue to support everything that will make life worth living for the common man, especially children. It is on this note that I wish to remind everyone here present that the Gubernatorial Election will hold in the State in November this year. Electioneering will, therefore, commence in the next couple of months to allow all political parties and their candidates canvass for votes. On our part as a responsive and responsible government, I want to categorically state here that no one’s blood is worthy of our election into the office, hence we shall canvass for votes in the most honourable manner devoid of thuggery and any form of molestation. Let me also admonish all political gladiators and their followers to operate within the bounds of decency and law while conducting their political activities now and in the months ahead. It is our common song and believe that children are the leaders of tomorrow and here we are today promising and planning a brighter future for you dear children. On this premise, I wish to charge you dear children not to yield to any pressure to get involved in political thuggery that can truncate that brighter future the government and your parents are hoping for you.

I wish you all our wonderful children across the State happy celebrations. Congratulations to all of you.

Thank you for listening and God bless.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *