​US CHILD- SOLDIERS HOOPLA AND NIGERIA’S CJTF By Kolawole Anthony

The all-powerful United States of America (USA) is a bundle of contradictions. It goofs so childishly and owes no one any apology . It is sensitive and alive in protecting the dignity of nationals of other countries in the globe, but in the haze pathetically forget in extending same to their own citizens. They do this aggressively or compulsorily, while ignoring itself and all that it takes to superbly impact on the world.

Americans pride themselves as “God’s Own Country,” and so the search for super wisdom and the aura of infallibility compel this country to posture a perfection next to God. In this craze, they expose their rottenness in the course of playing the master role on the globe. Therefore, what is acceptable and lawfully permissible in America must be a crime in other nations of the world. They bark and scream all manner of inanities to countries of the world in the manner a Regimental Sergeant Major shouts at zombies.

It’s appalling the extent US ridicules itself. America’s federal law (10 U.S.C., 505), stipulates the minimum age of conscription into virtually all arms of the United States Military at 17. It adds a caveat that applicants age 17 are required to tender proof of parental consent to attract consideration.

Yet this is the same country that has promulgated the Child Soldier Prohibition Act, (CSPA) 2008. Former President George Bush assented to it on October 3, 2008. The crux of the CSPA law seeks to protect children under age 18 from enlistment into the army to fight in armed conflicts and a range of other perceived vices associated with such conflicts.

The CSPA defines its concept of “child -soldier” to mean “ (i) any person under 18 years of age who takes a direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces; (ii) any person under 18 years of age who has been compulsorily recruited into governmental armed forces; (iii) any person under 15 years of age who has been voluntarily recruited into governmental armed forces; or (iv) any person under 18 years of age who has been recruited or used in hostilities by armed forces distinct from the armed forces of a state.”

By Nigerian laws, a child age 17 falls within the bracket of minors. So he is barred by law from exposure to certain things and his parents or guardians are held responsible over his acts deviance. The idea of the Civilian JTF (CJTF) formed by youths in Maiduguri, Borno state to assist soldiers redeem them from the consuming plaque of terrorism in the Northeast was conceived based on these principles.

Therefore it was a surprise that America’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons report included Nigerian among countries it indicted as violating its Child Soldier Prohibition Act, (CSPA) 2008. In effect, the US report attempted to rubbish the voluntary efforts of Nigerians in quelling terrorism by mindlessly assaulting the psyche of the Civilian JTF, as child- soldiers . It set out to smear the image of Nigeria and edify the magnificence of America.

The inaccuracies of the report notwithstanding, one is contended to say this is not just very uncharitable, but fundamentally questions America’s standard in domestic and external public morality. What is being violated as claimed by America is difficult to know. Why has America refused to know that a child at 17 years of age is still a minor and should be spared the rigors of military training, known to exert serious physical and intellectual strain on the soldier?

But what is crazy about the whole affair is America’s plea to the conscience of the world that it can abuse minors by their enlistment into the US Military, but the whole should pretend not to see. But other nations shall be guilty of violating a minor and America would harshly reel out stiff penalties’. That’s America’s unclothed hypocrisy to the whole world.

It mocks decent thinking that America only frown at violation of the child when parental consent is not obtained, as by its laws, a minor or applicant age 17, needs to tender evidence of parental approval before he will be considered for recruitment into its military. It is based on this understanding that it found Nigeria guilty of violating the CSPA 2008 because, may be, the parental approval of those it claimed are minors was not sought before their inclusion into the CJTF? This is laughable and they expect sane minds to accept this spongy wisdom?

Nigeria now has outgrown certain things. America is aware of this reality. Members of the CJTF also documented by the Borno state government, aside the Nigerian Army, cannot be minors or under -aged children. If the mindset of America is to find an excuse no matter how fluid to justify its refusal to sell weapons to Nigeria in her counter-insurgency war, it need not burden itself any longer. With or without their assistance, the Nigerian military has registered steady and awful progress in the anti-terrorism campaigns.

God Himself protects the weak from the swords of the wicked. That’s why the extent an “inconsequential” Nigeria has gone in curbing the menace of Boko Haram terrorism on its shores belittles the combined efforts of America and other super countries in extinguishing the flames of terrorism in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and hordes of such satanic nations.

But may America be warned that Nigeria would not avail itself as the testing ground of America’s obnoxious ideas such as the CSPA 2008. If Americans believe that once you get parental consent, one is free to abuse minor, Africans do not believe in this theory. An African, particularly a Nigerian goes to extreme limits to protect a child from all indignities and inhuman treatment.

Even with the consent of parents, no sane Nigerian would violate a child, as Americans have established through the criteria of enlistment into the US military. So, it is free to blackmail other countries, but it should exclude Nigeria from its application of the aura of a super nation or the banner of invincible lords.

Kolawole PhD, a University Lecturer writes from Keffi, Nasarawa State.

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