Abuja — A new survey released by the United Nations Children and Education Fund (UNICEF) has identified poor education, violence against children and terrorism among the biggest concerns for children in Nigeria.
In commemoration of this year's World Children's Day, UNICEF carried out the survey in 14 countries across the world and it involved more than 11,000 nine to 18-year-old children.
In Nigeria, the online survey carried out among 500 children revealed that eight in 10 children admitted worrying a lot about poor education affecting children across the world, and seven in 10 children worry a lot about being personally affected by poverty. The results also indicate that 59 per cent of children do not trust their country's leaders.
"It is clear that children are acutely aware of the challenges their peers face across the world and they are afraid of being affected by these issues themselves," said Mohamed Fall, Representative of UNICEF Nigeria.
"The fact that our young people are telling us they do not think their opinion is heard or it does not have any impact reflects that they feel powerless and disenfranchised."
According to the Communication and External Relations, UNICEF Nigeria, Mr. Geoffery Njoku, the findings revealed that Nigerian children are most likely to worry about poor education, violence against children, and terrorism affecting their peers.
Njoku said they also worry about being personally affected by these issues and poverty and they wanted world leaders to take action
As part of the activities lined up to mark the day, UNICEF Nigeria organised a programme tagged 'Children Takeover', which is a high-profile moment in the media, politics, business, sports, music and entertainment to raise awareness on the most vulnerable and hardest to reach children.
Through the event, children were expected to raise their voices in solidarity with the world's most disadvantaged children and will shine a spotlight on the most pressing challenges faced by their generation.
Eight pupils of the Model Primary School, Maitama, Abuja demonstrated leadership skills by manning the strategic position at the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Hotel in consonance with the ideals of UNICEF Nigeria.
Talking to journalists at the fun-filled event, the Chief of Communication, UNICEF Nigeria, Doune Porter, said the global body decided to mark this year's World Children's Day in a special way by having children take over leadership roles in businesses, offices, establishments and electronic media houses across the country.
"UNICEF is commemorating World Children's Day, which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with children's 'take-overs' to give children their own platform to help save children's lives, fight for their rights and fulfil their potential. It is a day for children, by children. In Nigeria, these activities include children's takeovers of media houses across the country amongst other local initiatives.
"UNICEF hopes World Children's Day will inspire governments, businesses and communities across the world to listen to children and incorporate their opinions in decision-making processes that affect them."
She said the event will help children to express themselves, to build self-confidence and esteem, prepare themselves for future leadership roles and especially to invest in their future.
We intend to build a more dynamic generation of future leaders, she added.
The General Manager, Transcorp Hilton, Mr. Etienne Gaillier, said his organisation was delighted to have the children pass through such a wonderful leadership experience, adding that the experience will shape the children's orientation to career development and help them to explore the world of the job.
He called on government and parent to give the children quality education, which he described as the best gift to children. "Education with values and discipline will shape their minds towards personal and academic and professional development."
Eight-year-old Emmanuel Ikechukwu, a primary five pupil of the school, who acted as a front desk officer said his role was to check in guests into the hotel, give them desirable accommodation and attend to their needs while staying in the hotel.
Ikechukwu said he would like the government to give the less privileged children right to education so that every child will develop at the same pace irrespective of social or status differences.
UNICEF worked with global research leader, Kantar and its data insights agency, Lightspeed to poll more than 11,000 children aged between nine and 18 years old in 14 countries about their concerns and attitudes on global issues including bullying, conflict/war, poverty, terrorism and violence against children. The countries surveyed were: Brazil, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.