The kids also featured in a movie against child marriage.
Hundreds of underage children on Tuesday in Ogun State embarked on a protest against the ambiguous Section 29 (4b) of the Nigerian constitution, a clause, though devoted to renunciation of citizenship, recognizes women less than 18-years-old to be of full age.
This particular section caused uproar amongst Nigerians who decried the non removal of the clause seen as discriminatory and against gender equality. There were also cries by many Nigerians that the said clause upheld girl child marriage causing a nationwide debate on the rights of children especially the girl child in Nigeria.
In a display of total abhorrence of the section 29 (4b) of the constitution, children in Ogun state threatened to go on a hunger strike if the lawmakers failed to retrace their steps and jettison the clause.
The children, who addressed a press conference in Abeokuta with their leader,13-year-old Pascalyne Ogbuli, under the banner of Volunteer Team of Children, said that as part of their campaign against child marriage, they produced a film titled ‘Yerima: Diary of a Child’ which will be shown throughout the country.
Ms. Ogbuli, who played a lead role in the film, noted that it was during the making of the film against early child marriage that many of them realized the cruelty of early child marriage and its humiliating impact and consequences on children, especially the girl child.
“Myself, and all the other children on the set of the Yerima film therefore decided that we are going to champion the voice against early child marriage law in Nigeria and educate other children about it because we are convinced that if no one would speak boldly for us, we Nigerian children, would be bold enough to come together and speak for ourselves, because what affects one child, affects all,” she said.
The team leader accompanied by her other underage peers declared that they do not want to grow up in a country where leaders do not respect child rights.
“In a country that allows her young girls to be forcefully given into early marriage and have a law strongly backing it up. We do not wish to grow up and tell our young daughters that we were forced into early marriage and they could too because there is a law that says they can,” the children said.
The kids said it is shameful that the country’s senate, which children should aspire and look forward to with pride and great respect, could even consider a law “saying our childhood and innocence could be taken away and children education destroyed in exchange for a bride price”.
“To this end, we the Nigerian children demand a national apology from the Nigerian Senate for belittling our child right and willfully deliberating and considering the stamping of early marriage in Nigeria. We demand their public apology in all the national dailies within the next ten days otherwise we shall embark on an indefinite hunger strike to draw local, national and international attention to our plight as voiceless children. And if we die telling our leaders that our education and our future count more than an early marriage, so be it,” she said.
“To all the leaders that support this barbaric law and to everyone that ought to speak out loud against it but are keeping quiet for fear, or for whatever reason, if we die, our blood shall demanded of you and your generations. We are children, but we have been forced to speak out and come out to fight for our right because those that should stand and fight for us are too afraid to stand and defend us. Someday, it shall be asked of you by your children and grandchildren that did you lend your voice to this evil called early child marriage or against it. Today, only you can determine the answer you will give.”
However, the producer of the film, Femi Olabode-George, in his contribution recalled that the making of the film was a herculean task, considering the role to be played by individual kids in ensuring that the message has positive impact on the society.
The film producer and Chairman of UTV Media said 35 children participated in the production, adding that he took up the challenges to embark on the project when contacted by volunteer artistes led by Omowunmi Freeman.
He disclosed that the 82 minutes film will record its premiere next week in Abeokuta, before onward transmission to all other parts of the country, calling on parents, guardians, children and other stakeholders to come out enmasse to watch the film.
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