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“May 27 is traditionally the children’s holiday in Nigeria”

A national day to celebrate the importance of children provides policymakers and families with an opportunity to consider the personal development of young Nigerians. Commonwealth Correspondent Ayodeji Morakinyo, 24, reports.

May 27 is traditionally the children’s holiday in Nigeria. First established by the United Nations in 1964, the day remains important in the lives of many Nigerian kids.

On this day every year, children are granted a holiday while several social activities are centred on them. Excused from school, most kids converge at stadiums and centres to commemorate the event.

It has also become the habit of some government officials and media organisations to honour some children with leadership opportunities. Certain radio and TV stations do this by featuring child broadcasters on air and letting them anchor their programmes for the early part of the day. Similarly, certain government officials allow a child to shadow them as ‘state governor’ for a major portion of the day.

A child governor who will go about the day job in the governor’s stead is chosen and conferred with representative authority. The young governor is therefore equipped with an entourage and guiding committee. It is expected that the honorary governor spends some of his time visiting the less privileged, attending special functions and fulfilling a few of the regular public roles of the state governor. This rare opportunity clearly raises the hope of some of the children. By seeing their colleague act as the governor, they are inspired to truly aspire for such positions in future.

There is no gainsaying that children are the future of the nation. Without them, the nation’s hope of building a youthful and productive workforce greatly diminishes and the basic family structure appears imbalanced. Everyone who is an adult today had to pass through the childhood phase. The stage is unique because it is marked with moral instructions, home training and fundamental education. It is at this phase that our learning ability develops. If guided in the right path, children can perform marvellously. And if not, they can evolve into individuals that are capable of terrorising a whole nation.

Therefore, it would be understood if their welfare exceedingly mattered to the Nigerian government. The overused Nigerian slogan that “children are the leaders of tomorrow” still exists but many of these so-called leaders are not receiving as much support from their parents and the government. Though the government has so many responsibilities and may lay claim on diverse excuses, parents remain the major custodians of their own children.

According to data provided by the CIA World Fact Book, 40.9% of the Nigerian populace are below age 14. Furthermore, information from UNICEF as at 2010 states that 6,332,000 childbirths occur in Nigeria annually. This shows how important they are in Nigeria’s national statistics.

One would wonder then if parents should not strive to ensure good parenting. When parents are seriously busy, children can often spend more time with unpredictable maids, unrated media content and their peers than with their parents. This often instills bad influences into their lives and is the cause of misconduct.

As we celebrate another children’s day, parents should sincerely evaluate their parent-child relationships. If in doubt that their efforts are adequate or that the children are heading in the right direction, they should make proper amendments. They should do these things knowing that vagabonds do not grow from the soil and neither do terrorists fall from the sky.

More often than not, our adulthood is informed by our complex childhood and teenage experiences.

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About me:

“I am an animated and artistic writer hailing from the southwest region of Nigeria. I hold a degree in electronics and electrical engineering and am certified as an IT professional.

“On days when I am not busy with engineering and management activities, I write prose poems, short stories and journalistic commentaries. In the coming years, I hope to help other people’s lives around the world and aid in the reformation of Africa.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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