Many teenage people grew up singing the well-known song “Parents, listen to your children, we are the leaders of tomorrow…” Children are indeed blessings to the world; they carry the hopes and dreams for a brighter and happy tomorrow. Like every country in the world, the future of Nigeria is hinged on the success of our children.
Nigerian youths have done well in terms of leadership so far, and are leading in a variety of ways. Young people are succeeding despite numerous hurdles, from establishing startups to owning small businesses, smashing it in our many profession fields, representing the country on a worldwide level, and breaking limits in arts, culture, and entertainment.
However, there is still work to be done in terms of preparing today’s youngsters to be better future leaders. Children’s Day is about more than just celebrating our children; it’s about creating a world where they can all grow up to be strong leaders in their communities and around the world. A better world than the one we now live in. A world free of the annoyances and problems that we currently experience. A future in which our children are equipped with the knowledge necessary to overcome obstacles, a world in which they can lead not only their own businesses, but also politics and governance, and a future in which our children can participate in key innovations, decisions, and policy-making in the country.
Our statistics aren’t looking good right now. With millions of out-of-school children, internally displaced children, child labor, and other issues, it is past time for us to start taking proactive steps to ensure that our children have a brighter future. Education, whether formal or informal, is the first step toward a brighter future. It begins with providing a fair playing field for all children, allowing them to study and be educated regardless of their social or economic circumstances.
Building a better future also entails creating a safe environment for children. They are safe where they are. We must endeavor to create a country free of child violence, child labor, and child displacement. According to a UNICEF research, violence against children is a widespread problem in Nigeria, with 6 out of every 10 children experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional violence at some point in their lives. It’s the same with child labor; according to a 2019 International Labour Organization report, at least 43% of Nigerian children – the most in West Africa – are enslaved in various forms of forced labor.
To provide our children a brighter future, we must first boost the quality of their lives. From education to security to health, we must establish policies, plans, and technologies that will not only make life simpler for our children, but also provide opportunities for them to grow and compete with their peers. We must also give social assistance to ensure that abused children receive justice and are well cared for. We must also create a platform on which their voices can be heard.
While many people and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the country are doing incredible work, all hands must be on deck to ensure our children’s future. It begins with paying attention to the well-being of children on your street, in your neighborhood, in your local government area, in your state, and throughout the country – and assisting those who require assistance.
Let us create a better world for our children than the one we have now.