NEWS: Calabar Street Children: An Unfair Way To Begin 2015!

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2 January 2015 at 4a.m
By Efio-Ita Nyok
The sordid story of Calabar street children has assumed an
awful dimension at least to a perceptive public.
I was returning from seeing off a friend and colleague of
mine William, when i observed two kids by the big drainage of Webber street
scavenging for parts of electronics/electrical appliances.
I was struck by this sight and not minding the heat of the
harmattan sun stopped by to observe what this kids where doing by the big
gutter on a first of January. As I noted earlier, they were scavenging for
discarded parts of electronic/electrical appliances. But the wonder was, should
it be on a day when every body celebrated their successful witnessing of a new
year!?
I was, to say the least, baffled by the sight. So I had to
move closer. On getting closer, I hailed: ‘hello boys’. Immediately they were
drawn to my attention. That was when I took the second clip you see above. The
first was taken when they were not aware of me.
I asked what they were doing there, as if I was blind or
daft, and the dark one in red short, obviously the elder, declared in
vernacular: ‘obong mbion odong mi’, that is ‘I am hungry’. I was dumb-founded.
It was pitiable a sight. And I said within me, ‘this is not a better way to
begin 2015!’
This bring us to the reality of street children on the
street of Calabar. Their ages range from 3 to 15. They are homeless and exist
in colonies of two, three or ten. You usually see them along Atekong Junction,
Cultural Centre Complex, Ekong Etta, etc. But we have the ones who roam the
outskirts of the city. They usually sell those old wares they have scavenged to
their Hausa/Fulani clients at Bogobiri, Calabar settlement for Nigeria’s
northerners. They also run errands for prostitutes abd hover about areas where
marriage, burial or birthday ceremonies are conducted.
Some of them are ophans, some have been labelled witches and
wizards, some are products of irresponsible parents, etc. I can keep on
describing them on end but it should be noted that these have taken destiny
into their hands -they have decided to survive despite what.
But for how long will they continue like this? These
unfortunate kids are potential criminals of the future because of their
vulnerability. Already, they are capable of profound mischief. The earlier
society is aware of this grim fact the better. It’s better we nib the challenge
of tomorrow now. Government should respond to the challenge by evolving
legislation and initiating policies to rehabilitate these citizens and
reintegrate them into society.
Let me commend Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke for the initiative of
the DCC(Destiny Child Centre) which has taken some of these kids of the street.
However, permit me to observe that it has been recently rumoured that the DCC
had become incapable of managing these destined children by throwing them back
into the street, this may have been premised on the unusual surge and increment
in numeric strength that characterised their appearance on the street again.
I appeal to both government, civil society groups, NGOs and
the general public to think and act in the direction of this abandoned
children. It’s an urgent and clarion call because they also deserve to live,
and live decently.
The scene of yesterday was not a better way of celebrating
the advent of a new year -2015. On less we act fast, the repercussions are
imminent.