HON. (Barr.) Funmilayo Tejuosho staged Children’s Day party for government school children around Ilupeju LCDA, Mushin, on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The event, held at Kosy Bethel Primary School, Ilupeju, Lagos had other honourable members of the Assembly in the constituency in attendance.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the delectable Lagos lawmaker bared it all on why she celebrated Children’s Day with pupils of her constituency.
Why did you celebrate Children’s Day with these kids?
We have to encourage children because we want them to go to school and be good citizens. And when we represent their constituency, we are representing them because we are the voice of the children. We are the voice of women and every single person in the constituency. We cannot continue to dialogue in the town meetings only. We need to talk to the children, to let them see us as human faces they can relate to and also make them aspire to become legislators.
Today is Children’s Day, instead of staying at home and restless, we decided to set up a place where they can come together, meet other children and play around. We feel they need to enjoy their childhood, do childlike things because when they become adults, they won’t be able to do those things. We want them to go back home with good memories of the day.
What are some of your efforts to enforce the Child Right Act?
The law is for children and it exists. We try to reflect the simple things in the law, maybe by curiosity some children might look into the law and know its complexity. We try to direct them to who to talk to in case they have any problem. We tell them to talk to their teachers, their parents and also their representatives, like my humble self. We had an incident in my constituency, whereby a landlord’s son, about 35 who molested a five year-old child, a tenant’s child. We had to handle it on the floor of the House of Assembly. So, we have to protect them because we don’t want them to be affected by any traumatic incident.
These are the kind of fora to subtly introduce Child Law to the Assembly. We have to protect them because they have a future, like me telling them that you have the right to go to school, and with age they get to know more about other things.
Is this going to be an annual thing?
Definitely, it’s going to be annually. We also stage Christmas party and we will continue to celebrate it and make the children understand the reason for giving and sharing, so that they can understand how to show love to one another. We need to celebrate them, to make them know that they are important and that we appreciate them. We were children and we want them to also be on the right track. It’s a good thing to celebrate with them. We also have gifts for them at the end of the day. Things like school bags, exercise books, pens, things that would be useful for them in school. We have other sweet things that children like. We want it to be a wonderful day for them all.
How is government going to address the discrimination between public and private schools?
We are putting things in place gradually. This building we are is newly built. They called on me just before the elections that they are having some issues with the building, and I called the Lagos State government, Commissioner for Education, and they came to our rescue to help renovate it. So, we will continue to do what we are supposed to do. With democracy, we inherited a lot of poverty, but now democracy is here to stay and we will continue to build on it. That is why when we talk about APC, we talk about continuity in Lagos. We have been doing it and we will continue to strive to achieve better results. We are looking into schools to make sure that our buildings look better than they have ever looked and also making sure that our children feel comfortable and get study aides for them to be able to do well.
A lot of people believe that public schools do not have dedicated teachers, what’s your take on this?
Government is doing a lot on that. We appreciate the fact that we are not tolerating unqualified teachers. There is a procedure, a requirement which must be followed. It is very important because we are teaching these children and if we don’t teach them what is right or if we cannot understand them, then the foundation is faulty. That foundation needs to be solid, therefore, we encourage our children to be taught by proper teachers. In the House of Assembly, we have a Committee on Education. We visit schools to make sure that our teachers are not trading instead of being in class. Our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would always say you cannot build something good on anything weak, therefore, we have to build a solid foundation for them.
Are they still going to implement the one meal a day for children which APC promised during campaigns?
Yes, of course. A child without food will not function properly, even we say a hungry man is an angry man. So, without food, the children will not be able to assimilate properly. So, the APC government of Lagos State is going to make sure that our children have a meal a day and the people that will provide this meal will be monitored, so that the meal is clean and hygienic because we don’t want our children to fall sick. So, we are very strict about it.
What is the significance of this celebration?
We are not just celebrating them because they are there. We want them to excel. As legislators, their parents voted us into office and we have always had town hall meetings, dialogues with them but today is Children’s Day, it’s strictly for the children. We want to tell them we love them.
What is your advise to parents on insecurity of the children?
We always tell them to tell their children not to speak to strangers. They shouldn’t take anything from strangers. If anybody they know gives them something, they should take it home and show their parents. In the Child Right Law of 2007, it says that every child has the right to education till secondary school level, therefore, children need to appreciate that.
– NKECHINYERE IBEMERE