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Nigerian children applaud parents, urge government to ease economic hardship

By Samson Ezea, Daniel Anazia, Lagos and Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Benin City

27 May 2017   |   4:19 am
Today is Children Day in Nigeria. As the children celebrate their day today, they also seized the opportunity to bare their minds on their expectations from their parents, government and society at large.

Nigeria’s acting president Yemi Osinbajo (centre) with the 23 FCT schoolchildren he welcomed to the State House, Abuja, to commemorate 2017 Children’s Day on Friday, May 26, 2017

Today is Children Day in Nigeria. As the children celebrate their day today, they also seized the opportunity to bare their minds on their expectations from their parents, government and society at large.

Speaking to The Guardian in Benin City, Edo State capital, Master Godwin (surname withheld), a JSS1 student of Western Boys School, Ikpoba Hill, said he was not particularly happy with the way and manner issues affecting children have been handled, saying he wished more attention was given to their care and welfare

“I’m in JSS1. My father is a plumber, while my mother is a trader. They have to try every means to make sure that I’m in school. I believe government can help us through the provision of meals the APC party promised Nigerians during the campaign in 2015. I want the government to provide more security for my school. Things have been very hard for us. We go through a lot of pains. There are times we had no food. I used to take food to school, but for some time now, my parents have told me to adjust because things are now hard for them. Our parents mean well for us and that is why we want them to enjoy us after going to school. I want to be a lawyer, “ he said.

At the Imaguero Primary School in Oredo Local Council, a Primary Five pupil who spoke on condition of anonymity took everyone by surprise stating that she wants government to take the issue of girl child education beyond lip service.

She said: “Education is a right. I see no reason why, at times when we close from school, I see some students selling sachet water along the street. If street trading by pupils who are supposed to be in school can be banned, I will be very happy.

“The government should put in more efforts to see that parents do not allow their children to stay away, while others are in school. The foundation of the society rests on women’s shoulders. Things have been quite tough with the recession.”

Also speaking to The Guardian in Lagos, JSS 1 student, Miss Agbamuche Mercy, said she is happy to witness another Children’s Day celebration today.“I believe this will be a special day for me. I am very optimistic that my siblings will take me out to catch fun. The economic situation is not encouraging, but I believe things will get better some day. Government should make life easy for us; they should create more jobs for our parents, brothers, uncles and aunts.”

But to 12 year-old JSS 2 student Okosun Favour, there is no plan for celebration.Favour said: “I was made to understand that things are not good due to the economic recession we are experiencing in Nigeria. The cost of living is high and it is affecting our parents’ income. Although my parents were able to meet my school needs like school fees and books, but other things I used to enjoy are no longer available due to the recession.

“My parents give me pocket money, but not like it was before. There should be designated centres in each council area or community where children can be gathered and celebrated. Corruption is big problem in our country and it is beginning to get to the children. There should be sensitisation from government to children that corruption is bad.”

A psychologist at faculty of social science, Lagos State University (LASU), Dr. Gandonu Babatunde, said recession would automatically affect children because their parents’ income is affected.

“In that sense what they are earning before the recession is still the same thing they are earning during recession. What you are buying for N5000 before recession, you can buy it for N8,000 during recession. Yet there is no increase in salary.

“It implies that some whose income cannot take care of the cost the children’s education will have to do a sort of adjustment. That will affect the quality of education the children are going to get and the kind of food they will eat. It will affect their physiological needs because what comes in cannot be enough for parents to cater for the family.”

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