No fewer than 3000 secondary students drawn from private and public schools in Lagos, converged on the Exhibition Hall of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, for the Goge Africa Foundation(GAF) career guidance and counselling seminar 2017.
The programme, which has been running since 2007, is aimed at empowering youths of Africa through information, seminars and valuable action projects geared towards self-development and realisation of sustainable economy for the continent.
The programme with theme, ‘ Youths Against Violence’, saw speaker after speaker talking on topics such as ‘Cybercrime among the youths’, ‘Security Awareness’, as well as ‘Prevention of Child Abuse’.
In his remark, the founder, Mr Isaac Moses said the programme is the foundation’s way of giving back to the society and ensure that children are well guided on career choices and prevailing vices.
According to him,” we run a television programme called Goge Africa and we go to most part of Africa and in the course of doing this, we saw many of the challenges that exist. Overtime, we discovered we had to move with the times otherwise we will be left behind. You will discovered that it is all about what you know rather than what you are. How do we give back to the society and that is why we decided to establish the career guidance every year where we invite different resource people who know Africa has different challenges and professional skills to speak to the children and empower them.”
Emphasising on the impact it has made over the last 9 years since its inception, Moses said, “ we believe that the over 37,000 students who have attended the seminar over the years, have been educated and must have gained one or two things from all the professionals that had spoken, and certainly it will impact their lives.”
The founder said funding has been the foundation’s major challenge in putting together the programme yearly, adding that it plans to replicate it in other parts of the country aside Lagos.
A representative of Christiana Faith Foundation, Mrs Stella Oyerinde who spoke on ‘Child Sexual Abuse’, said people who abuse children, most times are close to them, adding that they are family members of friends.
According to her, “thirty percent of child abusers are very close to them and people who are related by blood, 60 percent are friends of the family. There are cases of father sleeping with their daughters, or uncles sleeping nieces and even brothers abusing their sisters.”
In getting the victim, she said the abuser would do everything possible to get her attention to show his love, adding that after abusing their victims, they threatened them.
Oyerinde expressed concern that some children are coming from homes where the parents are no longer seen as role models, adding that one of the ways children can protect themselves from sexual abusers is to avoid lonely places and gift from people.
“You must also report any case of sexual abuse, you need to come out and say it,” she said.
The Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr Fatai Owoseni, reeled out many tactics the pupils could deploy to overpower criminals and especially abusers and abductors.
Owoseni who was represented by the Assistant Commissioner of Police and former Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Mba advised pupils to be open to their parents and guardians at all times, and avoid walking alone, to stop accepting unknown friends on social media and always avoid bad company.
He recalled the murder of Cynthia Osokogu about five years ago by her Facebook friends, adding that the recent conviction of the culprits was a plus to the fight against crime in the country.
“Fighting crimes takes two to tango. We need forums like this to engage the pupils while parents also have roles to play. We must ensure that we are close to our children and know much about their movements. In the case of an abuser trying to overpower them, I have always advised victims to defend themselves sensibly with anything around them. Self-defence and provocations are excuses recognised by law as long as they are justifiably used.”