Family consultants and experts advocate for maternity and paternity leave.
A Consultant on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, Adeyinka Omigbodun, has urged government at all levels to review the extant policy on maternity leave.
The Lagos State Government recently approved six months maternity leave for female employees and 10 days paternity break for male employees.
Mr. Omigbodun said the family plays a vital role in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, adding that the home remains the first learning environment for a new born baby.
“When you see a child going to school in two different colours of socks on his feet, you should know that there is something seriously wrong with both parents.
“It could be because both parents were away from home and left the care of their children to the house help, a careless relation or neighbours.
“We would be happy if such policies were introduced for state and federal officers,” she said.
Also speaking, Ebun Delano, the Vice President, Association for Reproductive and Family Health, said the Lagos policy should be replicated by other state governments.
Ms. Delano said that the consequences of prolonged office hours in the public service had impacted negatively on the basic development process of children.
Modupe Ainna, the Head of Department of Public Nursing at UCH, also urged government at all levels to replicate the Lagos initiative.
“This package would enable families to bond together and thereby help in laying good foundation for families, communities and the society at large.
“The inability of parents to adequately fulfil their parental roles due to stressful work schedule accounts for some social ills in the society.
“ This welfare policy would enable nursing mothers and their husbands to nurture the new baby in the first 10 days of life,” she said.
Samuel Adeyemi, the Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, said a new maternity and paternity leave policy was long over-due.
“Men in the world have been enjoying paternity leave for quite some time now.
“In Africa, fathers hardly get paternity leave at all. Kenya offers two weeks and French –speaking West Africa–Chad, Cameroon, Gabon and Cote d’Ivoire– allow 10 days,” he said.
A civil servant, Funmilayo Oginni, also described the new leave regime of the Lagos government as a welcome development for workers and intending parents.
Ms. Oginni said the paternity break would enable fathers bond with their new babies as well as enhance family values.
A 36-year-old vulcaniser at Molete, Ramon Adigun, however, said he was indifferent to the policy.
Mr. Adigun said he usually left home at about 6 am to embark on commercial motor cycling business before resuming his vulcaniser job at 10 am.
He said: “Where do I have the time to nurse a baby? Do I have milk in my breast to give the baby?”
Iyabo Oribogunje, a mother of three, said her husband had never assisted in nursing their children.
The 26-year-old vegetable seller at Oje Market said: “My husband has three wives and I am number two.
“Once he impregnates me, he abandons me and moves on to another wife’s house.
“He has never contributed to my care during pregnancy and naming ceremonies. I have been doing everything by myself.
“So it would be funny if he now wants to come home and start helping out,” she said.