The current state of our beloved country Nigeria is still far from our expectations. It is still far from what our forefathers and mothers anticipated at independence in 1960.

The current situation in our country cannot put smiles on the faces of Nigerian children; we still hope for a better Nigeria.

Greater Nigeria, the giant of Africa that our founding fathers Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and others envisioned is much bigger than this. It seems that today’s Nigeria is still moving away from the path of this great vision. However, “the work of our heroes of the past will never be in vain.”

The Nigeria we want is such that free and quality education is available to children at all levels. We desire an environment that will allow children to assume leadership positions in the nearest future. Children are the only hope for Nigeria’s dying leaders and as the saying goes, “Children are tomorrow’s leaders”. To raise good leaders to rescue Nigeria from its current state of chaos, a strong foundation must be laid today, and free, quality education is a platform to lay that foundation. But as it stands, the education system in Nigeria is nothing to brag about as evidenced by the following: poor educational infrastructure, poor funding for education, low teacher motivation, increased brain drain/migration to foreign countries (now popularly called ‘japa’), increased rate of children out of school, among others. These could be very detrimental to the ambitions of our future leaders, therefore we seek a Nigeria that will enable a bright future for our future leaders which in turn results in the progress of our nation.

Furthermore, the Nigeria we long for is a vibrant, thriving and sustainable economy filled with equal opportunities for all children, regardless of their socio-economic background, so that we can grow up to be patriots and nationalists of our great nation. . Today, the huge exchange rate of the naira to one dollar is incredible. The huge debts of our country to other countries are very threatening to us as children. With the prevailing circumstances, the question is: “Is our future guaranteed?” We want a Nigeria where the dollar to naira exchange rate is equal; a debt free nation for sustainable development. We long for a country that does not encourage the brain drain in such a way that the talent and potential of children are not eliminated, but rather nurtured and developed.

Also, the rising unemployment rate in our country today is quite alarming. When the children finish their education, there is almost no source of livelihood. Since white-collar jobs are now inadequate, children must be empowered with intellectual, entrepreneurial and artistic skills to cope with life so that they can be self-sufficient in the future and reduce the high rate of unemployment and/or underemployment in the country that It has even led to the involvement of some children in antisocial vices such as cultism, armed robbery, fraud, drug use, among others.

Furthermore, we long for a Nigeria where healthcare facilities and services are available in quality and quantity. Due to the lack of efficient health facilities in the country, many children have died prematurely and most of these deceased children were great men in the making. Among them were change agents, potential leaders, doctors, scientists and many more, but Nigeria lost them all due to inadequate and unaffordable healthcare services. Therefore, we long for a nation where quality healthcare services are available and accessible to all children at minimal cost (affordability) because it is often said that “a healthy nation is a rich nation”.

Furthermore, the Nigeria we want is one in which leaders are democratically elected to all political offices in peaceful, free, fair and credible elections; one that is free from bloodshed, ballot box theft, violence, falsification of election results, and all forms of electoral malpractice. Let’s start more properly this 2023.

In short, Nigerian children are looking for a country where the rights of the child can be fully implemented, where quality education is guaranteed for all children, where there is zero tolerance for all forms of child abuse, where corruption and anti-social vices be a story of the past, where there is guaranteed safety and protection for the child, where unemployment is fully addressed, where there is availability, accessibility and affordability of quality healthcare services for all Nigerian children, where the Nigerian child can boast of a restructured Nigeria, such that even foreigners would like to be in a country like ours.

– Hon. Osika, Kaghini-nse Etim is the Vice-President of the Cross River State Children’s Parliament.