Nigeria is blessed with natural and human resources. These resources are supposed to be of great benefits to every citizen, including the children. There are various ways by which children can benefit from these resources – education, healthcare, social amenities and others too numerous to mention. But unfortunately, majority of the children and their parents do not enjoy these blessings because of poor leadership, bad economy and poor management of these resources. Therefore, the essence of this article is to present the kind of Nigeria that children want to see.
As we all know, education is very vital to the development of any society. Educating a child in a proper way ensures a bright future for any nation. As such, Nigerian children want to see a country that
provides better and functional educational facilities including seasoned, trained and qualified teachers, in order to ensure that the children are well educated. Serious attention must be paid to education if Nigeria has to develop.
Teachers and facilities must be well taken care of so as to have a better output. Cases where children remain at home because of strike, as in the case of the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), is not helpful to the children in anyway. Education should also be made free and compulsory from primary to, at least, secondary level, to all children in order to eradicate illiteracy from our society. Access to education should not be begged for by Nigerian children who are seen as future leaders.
Healthy children results to a healthy nation. Therefore, Nigerian children want a country where provision of healthcare facilities and personnel is of great importance to the government. The government must provide healthcare facilities and personnel in every community where they are accessible to every child. The high rate of child mortality experienced in Nigeria, especially in the rural communities, would be a thing of the past if priority is given to the healthcare sector.
There should be adequate and consistent administration of immunization vaccines to new born babies and children in order to prevent illnesses among children, especially in the rural communities.
A Nigerian child would love to see a clean, green and healthy environment. Everyone knows that, a dirty environment is never conducive for anyone, especially the children, because it may affect their health in diverse ways like, being victims of illnesses and diseases of various kinds. One of the major things that make our environment dirty is the huge refuse dumps along the roads and streets of our different communities.
These refuse dumps, when overfilled, pour out and settle on the roads and may also clog the gutters,
thereby leading to floods and erosion, which in turn lead to a very dirty environment. Mosquitoes live and breed in dirty environments. These mosquitoes then spread a disease called malaria and it is very
bad for the health of people, especially children.
In order to maintain a clean and green environment, citizens must keep their surroundings clean and neat. Dumpsites should be provided in every community for proper waste disposal. The government should
ensure that dumpsites are located far from residential areas. Waste management agencies should dispose of refuse dumped in the dumpsites, preferably at night. Government should make stiff rules and penalties
for anyone who litters the environment. This will certainly help in having and maintaining a clean, green and healthy Nigeria for everyone.
Furthermore, Nigerian children want a safe, secured and crime-free society. Where a nation is denied all these, children cannot enjoy such a society. There are many cases today of children being kidnapped, trafficked, raped and used for child labour, etc all because of the lack of security in the country. Cases of armed robbery attacks also affect children in one way or the other. Therefore, it is the duty of government to provide security personnel and facilities in all parts of the country. In many homes, schools, religious
institutions today, children are attacked, kidnapped and killed.
The menace of the Boko Haram, where many children have been kidnapped, is a terrible case in point. Even where parents of these children are attacked, the children still suffer a great deal as they become
orphans and eventually become homeless, resulting in the case of street children phenomenon. The need to secure schools, religious institutions, market places, communities and every part of the country
for the sake of the children, cannot be overemphasized.
Another thing that would be of great importance to the children of Nigeria is the economy of country. Nigerian children want to see a robust and efficient economy, where their parents are well employed,
prices of things in the market are affordable and the means of livelihood generally, is made easy for everyone. If the economy of Nigeria is in good shape, the rate of poverty will be reduced to the barest minimum. Every child will be in school, parents will not find it difficult to pay for their children’s needs and life generally will
be a happy one for children.
The present economy is very biting on both the parents and the children. This has led to some of the
children dropping out of school, engaging in child labour, unwanted pregnancies, robbery, and high rate of illiteracy. This is very unhealthy to a nation like Nigeria thus, the need for the government and the private sector to do all it takes to ensure a robust and functional economy.
Lastly, I strongly believe that every Nigerian child wants to be heard and recognized. To achieve this, government should establish platforms in every state where the views of children can be expressed.
Children should not be allowed to just exist without being heard. They have a lot of fantastic ideas in their own capacity to bring to the table, in order to help in the development of the country.
I strongly commend the establishment of the Cross River State Children’s Parliament. More children including those in the rural areas should be given the opportunity to participate in such fora. The Child’s Right Act should be well implemented in all states of the federation so that the rights of children will not be trampled upon but protected to the benefit of the children and the society at large.
Hon David Umanah Emmanuel is National Ambassador Cross River State