From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt


Wife of the Rivers State Governor, Lady Valerie Siminalayi Fubara, has called on relevant government agencies to intensify measures towards achieving total crackdown on practices that promote child labour and trafficking.

Also, has stated that the most enduring legacy is investment in children to harness their full potential for self-development and positive impact on the larger society.

She stated these while speaking at twin activities by the State Government to mark the 2024 Children’s Day celebrations in Port Harcourt on Monday.

Speaking shortly after taking salute during the official march past at the Sharks Football Club Stadium, Port Harcourt, Lady Fubara, who applauded the theme of this year’s celebration: “Investing in the Future Means Investing in our Children,” called for the prioritisation of the development and wellbeing of children.

The State First Lady noted that such investment transcends the individual and has ripple effects on the larger society.

She said: “Today, when we’re gathered to celebrate Children’s Day; we are reminded of the invaluable treasure we hold in our hands, the promise of our future, embodied in their innocence, curiosity and boundless potentials of our children, the theme of this year’s celebration: ‘investing in the future means investing in our children’ underscores our responsibility towards generations to come.

“These responsibilities involve nurturing, guiding and inspiring our children to be architects of a brighter future.”

She further explained that investing in children goes beyond mere provision of basic needs of ensuring assess to education and healthcare which are essential components.

According to her, investing in the children involves creating an enabling environment that fosters their holistic development, intellectually, socially, emotionally and ethically.

Lady Fubara said: “Investment in our children is about instituting in them the values of compassion, empathy and responsibility for diversity, laying the foundation of a society built on inclusivity and understanding, instilling in them the skills of knowledge and understanding to navigate an ever changing world.”

While speaking at the party organised for children in the State at Government House, Port Harcourt, with the theme: ‘For Every Child, Every Right’, the Rivers First Lady pointed to how inimical child labour and trafficking are in hampering healthy growth and well-being of children, which, therefore, should be tackled head-on.

She said: “It is apparent that more efforts still need to be made to continue tackling issues related to our children’s growth and well-being, especially in the area of child labour and trafficking, which are endemic in our society today.

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“I call on relevant government agencies to step up the campaign against such evil practices and ensure the safety of our children as they remain the hope of our nation and the potential leaders of tomorrow.

“I urge parents not to be unduly pressured, either by the temporary economic challenges or by societal influences, to engage in such inhuman practice of child labour or trafficking. It is not only an evil against humanity, but also a sin against God.”

Lady Fubara said it was a privilege for her to host children in the State, who are the future hope of society, on such auspicious occasion, and to share in their joy on a day designated for them globally.

The First Lady of the State emphasised that in evaluating the priority of the day, it was pertinent to focus on what the Rivers State Government has started doing for them under the watch of her husband, Siminalayi Fubara, particularly in prioritizing their education.

She said: “Several policy initiatives are being taken to rebrand and reposition the educational sector, by strengthening the operations and promoting the emergence of SMART Schools through the remodelling of infrastructure and upgrading of learning equipment.

“I am aware that this administration has taken up examination fees for school children and further purchased books and instructional materials to deepen teaching and improve learning.

“We are truly grateful to His Excellency, the Governor, for always thinking ahead to cater for our children. This clearly demonstrates our determined efforts at building the future we definitely want to see, if we want a tomorrow with great men and women.”

Lady Fubara stated the need for sustained but deliberate efforts in planning for the future with greater investment made that would manifest in the well-being of children.

She recalled the recent gesture of the wife of Nigeria’s President, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who, with the ‘Renewed Hope Initiative’, allowed her office coordinate the donation of 50,000 exercise books to public schools in Rivers State.

She said, “This effort was to ensure that our children do not lack the basic materials required of them to engage in the learning process.

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are here to celebrate our children, and we must continue to pray for them and to guide them according to the dictates of God Almighty, who gave them to us to look after.”

Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Justina Jumbo, had stated that prioritizing the welfare of children was paramount, especially in this period of prevailing social and moral decadence in our society.

She said the celebration of Children’s Day helps to bring issues bothering on the welfare of children to the fore, and urged governments at all levels and the private sector to refocus their plans by investing in the future of the children.


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