On Sunday, May 27, 2012, the whole world marked Children’s Day. It is the day set aside by the United Nations to call special attention to the plight of children worldwide. And many were the activities organised to mark the day in Nigeria by both the public and private sectors. As usual, a day was declared as public holiday for school pupils to mark the annual event. Beyond the festivities of the day, however, in what condition is the Nigerian child today? Against the backdrop of the present socio-economic malaise, what is the foundation being laid for his future? For instance, a large percentage of school age children are said not to be in school. Those of them that are in school study under very poor conditions. In spite of that despairing environment, they are the lucky ones. There are tens of hundreds of children that are homeless. The popular street kids in the nation’s urban areas sleep wherever the night catches up with them. Many of these homeless children end up in criminal gangs and become a menace to society. Furthermore, Nigeria is said to have one of the highest rates of deaths among children from preventable diseases. The worry is that governments at all levels are not doing much to rescue the situation. At one of the meetings of the Editorial Board, the matter of the plight of the Nigerian child came up for discussion. The debate was both enlightening and engaging. Many of the members, thrilled by the debate, wanted to take a bite at the assignment. It was Raymond Mordi, senior assistant editor, who eventually got the nod. His report, the cover in this edition, is thought-provoking. That is why we are asking, Does This Child Have A Future?
Another story that is food for thought is the special report on Nigeria’s oil thieves. Hardly a week passes these days without a report on how security agents have destroyed illegal refineries in the Niger Delta. Hundreds of such refineries set up by illegal oil bunkerers are said to have been destroyed. But no sooner are such destructions completed than the illegal operators are back in business. To get the crude for their operations, they tap into crude oil pipelines. The activities of these illegal refiners, however, pale into insignificance when compared to the derring-do of high profile bunkerers who steal thousands of barrels of crude oil and secretly export them in shiploads. It is said that many of the latter perpetrate the crime with the active connivance of top security officials who are stakeholders in the illegal business. The yearly loss in revenue by the nation to their criminal activities is put at about $12 billion. Chikodi Okereocha, senior assistant editor, wrote the story of how they steal Nigeria’s oil.