The case of little Lydia Azatyom

THERE is hardly any facet of Nigerian life that is not being affected by the socioeconomic challenges bedeviling the country. Not even the onerous but crucial duty of parenting is spared. These days, many parents, especially in urban  areas, do not even get to see their children during the day, only on weekends. They rise up early to fend for their families and return home late.  Even parents that ought to give quality attention to their children by reason of their flexible work schedules seem to be always absent-minded and often  absorbed by the thought of how to make ends meet and survive in an unfriendly socioeconomic environment. In Jos, Plateau State, little Lydia Azatyom, who reportedly disappeared and was discovered three days later in a pit where people defecate and dump refuse, is perhaps a typical example of a child that has suffered from parental negligence. Her mother could be described as negligent, distracted or lacking presence of  mind.

Fortunately, Lydia was found  alive in a pit three days  later, although badly injured. She was rushed to hospital where she is said to have recuperated and has subsequently been discharged. Thank goodness that she was found alive because  it is not every time that there is a happy ending to such tales of disappearing and missing children. And this makes it important to again beseech parents to put more efforts into caring for and looking after the security of their children. The decline in morality in the society and the level of depravity associated with such decline makes it imperative to put extra efforts into protecting little ones around the home these days.

Yes, many children of today tend to be hyperactive and adventurous, and when you add that to the  economic problems that are already taking a toll on many adults regarding the quality of their parenting duties, the absence of effective parenting becomes even more challenging. Nonetheless, the  task of looking after, caring for and protecting children from harm is compulsory and must  take precedence over any other consideration. What that means is that regardless of the increasing demands of the economic activities required to provide for their families, parents should still go the extra mile to ensure the security of their children. This is what is required to save families from the agony of losing children to avoidable death through exposure to criminals who could take advantage of them because of parental negligence.

Meanwhile, we urge that the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of little Lydia and her discovery three days later in a pit should be painstakingly investigated. It would be of interest and importance to the public to know whether Lydia simply  wandered away and mistakenly fell into the pit or her hellish situation was orchestrated by someone or people with sinister intentions. According to reports,  three-year-old Lydia was a stranger in the village where the incident occurred as she, in company with her mother, was said to have arrived just a month earlier at her aunt’s house  in Angwan Yashi area of Tudun Wada community in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State. The area is reportedly notorious for being a haven of kidnappers, and from the available information, there are still many missing children that have yet to be accounted for in the village. Against the backdrop of this scary information, Lydia’s mother and, in particular, her aunt ought to have been more concerned about the whereabouts of the hapless girl at any point in time.

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The popular view among the people of  Tundun Wada regarding Lydia’s disappearance is that she was actually kidnapped but  because she did not suit the purposes of her abductors, they decided to dump her in a pit in an uncompleted building. This viewpoint needs to be backed up with verifiable evidence and it is the duty of the police to confirm or debunk the narrative by apprehending the kidnapper(s), if any. While we urge the police to be thorough in their inquiry without ruling out any lead, it bears stressing that the burden of the safety and wellbeing of the children lies squarely on their parents. In a clime where terrorists, bandits and kidnappers are on the prowl, defying official interventions, no parent can afford to be careless and lose their children and wards  to abductors. That would be tantamount to culpable negligence, which is punishable under the law.

Clearly, there is an urgent need for the government to double down on its efforts to rein in the activities of kidnappers and other criminals, but  parents should always bear it in mind that they are the first line of defence against the impairment of the security and safety of their children.


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