Lawyer and rights activist, Femi Falana has stated that among the 13.2 million children roaming around the streets across the country are potential recruits for terrorism, kidnapping and other social vices.
Mr Falana made this remarks while speaking as the chairman at the public presentation of a book, Tolu’s October 1st Birthday, and symposium titled Indigenous Culture and the Nigerian Child in Lagos on Wednesday.
The book was written by journalist, Grace Edema.
Special guest of honour was Chair, Oba Sikiru Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance, Prof Ayo Olukotun, and book reviewer was journalist and literary critic, Yemi Adebisi.
Falana attributed the worrisome social menace and terrorism ravaging Nigeria to lost cultural and educational values.
He said that the dearth of culture and low quality of education in Nigeria is due to the lack of funding and neglect of public schools which have led to total collapse of these schools.
“Today, we are battling with 13.2 million children roaming around the streets and 60 million of them are illiterates. This is as a result of lack of culture and the low-quality education in Nigeria.
“It is very easy for the Boko Haram, armed robbers, terrorist and kidnappers to recruit them. These children won’t make it possible for all of us to sleep well.
“The population of these children is the largest in the world. The population is higher than the population of Cuba and many other countries in Africa. Whereas children in China and European countries are already in schools using computer to learn and develop their knowledge,” Falana said.
He added that in 20 years’ time, Nigerian children will be competing with what children in China and European countries are learning at the moment.
“It is a shame we are encountering such challenges. We must ensure we intervene and be determined to preserve our culture and fund our education.
“The elite and government officials have abandoned public schools and have allowed them to collapse. We took our children out from public schools where culture can be learned and put them in private schools. This is a dilemma we’re facing as a country.
“Frontline countries like America, Israel, China Japan and other developed countries don’t rely on oil. They rely on knowledge. Knowledge builds economy. It’s through administration of good culture and knowledge our country can develop and thereby make advancement,” he said.
Prof Olukotun lamented the decay of reading culture, lack of encouragement for creativity and fulfilling careers for the youths. He advised that there is a need to encourage indigenous culture and to catch them young, through training before they mature.
Other dignitaries at the event include Prince Wale Oyekoya of Barma Farms, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde, Mr. Mojeed Jamiu, Mr. Olumide Iyanda, Mr. Peter Edema, Mr. Lekan Otufodurin, Mr. Bolaji Adepegba, Mrs. Aramide Oiekelome and Ms Temitope Ojo.