By Edayi Edison
Son: Dad, why is there so much hatred around, why are my classmates hating us so much?
Dad: No, they don’t hate you, it’s just a wave of issues happening around.
Son: Is that why my friends in class are now my enemies? They even threaten they can cut my throat.
Dad: No, it’s not true, just joking with you.
Children are not known for lengthy jokes, every word they speak has a part of the action from the smallest bit of their being. They may joke, but hardly miss words in pressing home their viewpoint, and expressing the real truth of every matter. The piece of conversation above has become the daily trend reeling before our eyes, as a nation. The last decade has become so dramatic, that it seems we are in an Indiana Jones movie scene. It becomes necessary to quickly ask, how did we get here?
As we converge for our Annual Children’s Day (ACD) program, a huge question like malignant cancer, eating the texture of our peace, is “what is the hope of our innocent children’s future?”.
Children are tender gifts from God, they are the eye of every family to the reality around us. They remain the mirror upon which society views her progress and future aspiration. In their innocence, your children can look at you in the face and tell you their heart desire. An attempt to suppress them will attract the knowledge of those around, either by the physical outcry, or emotional display of displeasure and disagreement. Every child’s birth comes with funfair, hopes, and future glories.
Family joys bacon on communal celebrations of every birth. Also, when ideals and dreams are opened up, everyone connected to such a dream rejoices in hope of success and the impacts that lie ahead.
Nigeria was a land of excellence, a beautiful and promising nation desired by all. I was taught growing up as a child. To crown the words of Iconic poet and Sportsman; Chike Chukwumerije, “I was a product of Nigeria public schools”. I saw the beauty and promises this great nation holds for her evolving children.
Promises that have aroused sentiments from many great nations of the world. It was pride to sing the National Anthem- even though the lyrics of the anthem did not really convey the future goal of a nation ready to emerge in triumph.
My aspiration as a growing child was to join the leagues of impact makers, community champions, and transformational advocates like Jelani Aliyu, Innocent, Phillip Emegwaeli, Chioma Ajunwa Akinwumi Adesina, etc., who through hard work, determination and focus, has put Nigeria in the global map of excellence, through service to their fatherland.
Permit me to say, that alas, the Nigeria of yesterday, seems nonexistent again. The Nigeria, where you go to a nearby shop, without the seller, you collect your desired items and place the exact monetary equivalent on the counter for the owner, no longer exists.
It was a Nigeria, where no one was suspicious of anyone, irrespective of where you are from. Living together was all for joy and advancement. It was a Nigeria where my parents can travel and leave me in the confines of our neighbors, without fear. My dear friends, Nigeria is no more.
In our quest to find how to restore the fading Nigeria, our attitudes tend to further drive away from the Nation into oblivion. “There was once a country”, according to Literary Legend, Chinue Achebe.
Today your future is on a question mark. Dear children, it is glaring that no matter your innocence, your future has become daily uncertain. Plagued with many diverse social maladies from Kidnapping, Gender Base Violence, Drugs, Teenage Marriage, Incest, Hatch Weather resulting from climate change, Examination Malpractices, Ritual Killings, etc.
It has further opened us as a nation to a very dark period that may consume everyone if nothing drastic and positive is done.
Permit me to borrow words from an article sent by a dear comrade and publisher of Stallion Times; Isiyaku Ahmed – Titled “Nigeria! Wake Up”- written by, Christie Oby Ndukwe; The writer expressed her pain, on how “We are still looking for the difference between Igbo and Ekwere, a Fulani and Hausa, an Ibibio and Amang or Efik, and worse still, between a Southerner and a Northerner”.
A systemic cankerworm, that is gradually putting away the very fabrics that made us the beautiful nation and pride of the Black Race. All around us today, it is like a jungle affair, as if we are acting the remix of ISSACABA. Lives are being wasted, without justice against perpetrators, people’s heritages are forcefully taken away, and communities ransacked, with no attempt of restoration and redemption. Thus, creating a picture of vague values before our INNOCENT CHILDREN.
As a Junior Secondary 1 student, I once read the African Night Entertainment in my Literature class. This gives me the first picture of the Northern Hausa/Fulani land. With such names as Sardiku, Kumirukuku, Mallam Shehu, et al. From then, I nursed the desire to one day reach the Northern part of Nigeria, to see with my bare eyes as described by my geography teacher as a Sahel and savanna grassland, blessed with amazing crops like beans, groundnut, etc.
Today I have left my rain forest and densely mangrove land, with sweet wild fruits like sheering (agbalumo), mangoes, cocoa, and cassava, and moved into a plain desert, with inviting landscapes and open lands begging for development. It amazes me, that not many want to move to other regions for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) anymore. How then do we learn the ways of other tribes and cultures, then live as one indivisible family?
As we are sited here today, supposed to mark the Annual Children’s Day, as designed to celebrate the child, by United Nations (UN), our Fathers and Mothers/Leaders are forcefully engaging and manipulating their ways into various leadership positions come 2023. Leaving us to be at their mercy. Fairness and humor would have prevailed on our leaders, if truly we are their children as they profess, to declare today as a holiday. To celebrate us a little, helping to lift our morals, in the midst of much tension, hostilities, and threats to our existence as children of Nigeria.
But, sincerely, do our leaders really care? do our INNOCENT LIVES matter to them? do they see our innate abilities, irrespective of our physical disabilities? are they in the knowledge that their actions are daily forcing us into an UNCERTAIN FUTURE? More than ever before, little children are daily butchered for rituals. Nigeria Leaders need to be reminded that to date, we are still awaiting the release of 276 Chibok girls,126 Bethel Baptist school Students, …..College students of Bakura, ….
In a recent train attack, over 20 children were in the boat that capsized in Rivers State, the fate of brutal molestation of …. School in Lagos. From the Dapchi schoolgirls to date, Leah Sharibu is still in captivity, so many too numerous to mention.
Severally, our actions and inactions have pushed our children to an erroneous edge. They have been persecuted many times, but not totally abandoned, so pressed down in many areas of life, but their lives were not absolutely destroyed. Our training curriculum seems to have expired, a review and rebuilding of fresh input, that meets modern-day technological trends are needed.
So as to have fresh ideas, fresh breath, that will sprout new buds for a remarkable and productive future leader. The children we raise today will be the society we have prepared for tomorrow. We all need to know that the silence and incapacitation of the INNOCENT CHILDREN, should not be mistaken for their powerlessness and lack of understanding. Not even at a time when social media has given the younger generation an inexplicable advantage to rock the boat of societal transformation and national development.
The emergence of true teachers and role models across every value chain of human endeavor is very critical now. We must stand strong to either teach what will give us future gains and improvement, or we leave these young minds to produce a mantra of a new Nigeria. But be ready to eat whatever soup is served and anyway it is placed before us. If the INNOCENCE OF OUR CHILDREN AND UNCERTAIN FUTURE, matter to you, let’s rise and change the ugly narrative now.
Edison is Executive Director, Young & Useful Generations Initiative (YUGi)