By Chioma Obinna
To mark the 2020 World Children’s Day, the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF has urged Nigeria to listen to children and young people as well as take action to re-imagine their future. It further insisted that Nigeria must listen to the demands of children and young people for a change.
Meanwhile, some Nigerian children have called on the government and parents to create an enabling environment for them to learn, be creative, and soar.
Addressing the children and other participants at an event in Lagos to mark this year’s World Children’s Day/the official unveiling of “Lara and Ali”, an animation representing children, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Hawkins Peter argued that “Childhood has changed; we must listen to children and young people who are asking for change. Perhaps, is nowhere to be true than in Nigeria.’
He said Nigeria must listen to what the children and young people have to say or re-imagine.
The World Children’s Day is UNICEF’s global day of action for children, by children, marking the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC) on Nov. 20, 1989.
At the event with the theme: “Reimagining a Better Future for Every Child”, Peter said World Children’s Day was also sued to mark the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, CRC, a UN human rights instrument for children
“It has been 31 years since world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“All children should have dignity, life, good health but more importantly, they should be able to smile.
“Today we celebrate the achievements of children over the last 30 years, but also re-emphasise what we have to do to ensure that Nigerian children, all children can have dignity, health, and be able to aspire. On days like this, we are hearing from children in the future. Let us listen to what they have to say. Let them design and re-imagine what they want Nigeria to be.”
Peter advised children and young people to learn, listen, and be united in purpose as well as possess the good character to move forward.
Stating that 2020 had been a more difficult year for children with the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, insecurity, the diverse protests, and unemployment, he noted that the recent protests had also given young people a voice in Nigeria.
In his address, Lagos State Commissioner for Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mr Segun Dawodu, who was represented by Adewunmi Ogusanya, Acting Permanent Secretary in the ministry restated that the ministry was passionate about creating an enabling environment for children through highly committed and motivational personnel who give succour to the vulnerable.
Dawodu disclosed that UNICEF had been a formidable development partner with the ministry especially in its supportive role and collaborative effort to strengthen the child protection system in the state.
Also, the children who participated in the programme called on the government and parents to create an enabling environment for them to learn, be creative and soar.
They listed some of the challenges faced by children to include substandard education system, insecurity, lack of adequate healthcare facilities, basic infrastructure including shelter, water, and electricity.
In a chat with Vanguard, Speaker of the Lagos State Children’s Parliament, Miss Sherifat Umar urged children to dream and work towards what they want to be.
On his part, Oseni Abdulmalik, with the Slum2School Africa said every child has a right to good education and an environment where there is a ‘voice for the voiceless’.
“Lara and Ali” are UNICEF’s animated characters for children and young people and through the animation, fun and child-friendly information would be shared to help children understand their rights, create awareness on issues that children care about, and advocate for a better future for every child.