For the umpteenth time, the Ondo State Government has showed a red card alert to all those found abusing children, warning that they should either stop the act or be ready to face the full wrath of the law.
The State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, gave the warning on sunday in his keynote address at the grand finale of the 2018 National Children's Day celebration held at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Square, Akure, the state capital.
The governor also reiterated his government's commitment to ensure the security of children in the state through both pre-emptive and preventive activities and measures as well as other child protection programmes.
Represented by his deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, the governor stressed the need for all and sundry to support the government in creating safe space for children in the state.
While saying the theme of this year's event tagged" Creating Safe Spaces for Children: Our Collective Responsibility" is timely, especially in view of the increasing reported cases of threat to the security of children in the society, Akeredolu posited that safety net must be readily available for children during emergencies.
The Governor said that" the last one year of the present administration in the state has demonstrated that we are a people welfare oriented government, this is our promise and we shall continue to pursue this cause with strong commitment and determination.
"To demonstrate our commitment to the objective of ensuring safety of children in the state, I announced and showed red card alert in May last year to all child abusers to stop the act and steer clear of the state or face the full wrath of the law.
"We are strongly committed in making the compulsory Universal Basic Education a workable and realistic policy aimed at bringing the best out of the children, launching of violence against Children Trust Fund to provide intervention for children in emergency, strengthen the existing relationship between the concerned ministries and security agencies on child protection services.
"Our school feeding programme shall be made to cover more children, we shall ensure wide circulation and full implementation of the state child's Right law and ensure that the good health and well-being of the children of the state are promoted".
The governor reminded the children of the need to be cautious of their movements and the people they associate with and wished them happy celebration.
Earlier in her welcome speech, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Omowumi Olatunji-Edet had informed that the celebration was first proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954,to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and initiate actions to benefit and promote the welfare of the world's children.
According to her, in Nigeria, the day remains important as it draws attention of government at all levels and the society at large to prevailing issues on children and equally, the children eagerly anticipate the day as it affords them to engage in social activities arranged to mark the celebration both at the national, state and local levels.
The Commissioner said the theme of this year's celebration was chosen to encourage all stakeholders on children matters to give more than usual focus and attention to issues relating to children.
She informed the gathering that before the grand finale, many activities involving the children and various stakeholders had taken place which include, special day for sharing African traditional values, morals and the issues of rights with children, schools variety day among others.
Cross section of children, who spoke in separate interviews with The Hope commended the state government for making the welfare of children a priority.
They pledged to continue to be good ambassadors of the state and equally make their parents proud.
The state government at the event launched and distributed school bags with water bottles to pupils and students in all the eighteen local government areas of the state.
Highlight of the occasion include, flag display, march past parade, special rendition, playlet, cultural dance among others.
In the March past parade, primary schools category, Police Children School, Merit Nursery and Primary and St Stephens primary School, Akure came first, second and third respectively while in secondary schools category, Navy Secondary school Imeri, Aquinas College Akure, and St Louis Secondary school, Akure came first, second and third respectively.
In the local governments category, Ondo West, Akure South and Akoko North-East came first, second and third in that other.
All special schools in the state equally went home with prizes.