By Denrele Animasaun
Dr. Wendy’s Moral: “It is Our Job to prepare Our Children for the Road and not prepare the Road for Our Children”
May 13th was International Children’s Day and everywhere else, including Nigeria, marked the day with various activities dedicated to young people.
National Children’s Day is held all over the world to help children feel special and in 2018 National Children’s Day was held on Sunday May 27th. This is the perfect time for kids of all ages to get together and take part in a wide range of different activities so that they can bond and take a break from the pressures of growing up.
One of the main aims of National Children’s Day is educating people on the importance of a healthy childhood. In addition to providing the little ones with plenty of fun activities, this is also the time to help raise awareness for the need to protect the rights of children so that they can become healthy and happy adults.
This year’s international children’s theme is ‘Children of today, our keepers tomorrow.’
Some decades ago, children looked forward to the event, practicing our drills in school, and the lucky ones are chosen to represent their respective schools. On the day children show so much pride in their school, with their uniforms so clean, starched and pristine. Children were bussed to the stadium, waiting to take their turn in the grand march past and of course, you wanted to eye up the opposition, if they had tricks to show off during the march past but most of all, you wanted to make your school proud.
These were what childhood memories were made of and similar events that shaped the lives moving forward to adulthood. Children were children for longer, parents had livelihoods; this is not to say it was idyllic, far from it. These were the days before multiple channels and TV stations started at 4pm and ended by midnight. In between, children were creative and also escaped into books that transported them to different climes and interesting characters. It was a time that parents had jobs and children had enough to eat and access to education or training that was relatively affordable. It was a time before computers, social media and mega corruption and shallow individuals. This was by no means the golden age but it was a time that now, looking back, was a happy and contented one.
You cannot say that for many of our young today, they are faced with so many social ills, violence, aggression extreme poverty, mass unemployment, poorly maintained infrastructure and crumbling institutions. What in the intervening years have we done to show that we have invested in our young and prepare them for the future?
What have we done to equip them for the future, history will judge us if we have done all we could have proactively done to make their future brighter.
From my archive –
I received a post, a response to my article, Generation X, from Victor Okoronkwo, a young engineering professional based between Lagos and London. He says he is very passionate for stability, growth and prosperity in Nigeria. He says: “Thank you for such a compelling article ‘Generation X’ in the Sunday Vanguard, 21st Oct 2012.
I believe it is both accurate and timely. However, the primary challenge remains how many people in position of authority would read this article and its likes and would feel the need to institutionalize policies or reforms that can transform the development of the young Nigerian.
If this remains such a major challenge, whilst not continually hoping it occurs, I agree with you that we all have a role to play. This would be targeted at developing the young Nigerian’s moral and educational standard.
How do we, who share this same feeling of urgency for change, organize ourselves as one unit with a clear, achievable goal? (Never mind what/which groups/movements for change we may belong to)
– Do we reach out and become reachable to the young Nigerian who desperately needs a role model?
There are a few other ‘hows’ that must be considered to deliver a changed Nigeria; I strongly believe it is achievable when good preparation has been put in place.
I am committed to playing my role for a better Nigeria; your article suggests you share a similar stance. Let’s start to organize ourselves with more who share such a passion for excellence in our land. Kind regards, Victor.”
Well, if there are more people like Victor, who are as passionate about making a difference in our youths’ lives, let us work together and make a positive change in the lives of the youths. As Leonardo da Vinci said: “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
The measure of a man is what he does with power.” — Plato
My father was not too pleased when I wrote that I wish I was from Osun. For those that read my page you know that I find the Ogbeni’s leadership inspiring and refreshing. Ogbeni put his opinion of leadership so well when he said, “Indeed, it is my belief that leadership offers a golden opportunity to serve the people and bring improvements to bear on their lives and existence. I also do hold onto the view that leadership is a core pillar upon which a viable and successful human society can be built. And that “Indeed leadership is all about rendering service to the people.
He continues to create opportunities for all the people of Osun to access education, health and employment. He has laid down a strong foundation and the people can see and feel the difference. This is not a party political broadcast but a call to other states to emulate the Aregbesola administration. I have always nailed my colours to the mast.
When something works and works well, it is important to admit and admire the process and that is what I do.
With well over half of the Nigerian population unemployed, poverty is higher than it has ever been, administrations and the government have promised to improve our lot and they have consistently let us down and not delivered.
The administration has employed the highest number of civil servants in any other states in the country. So, here is an administration that does exactly what it set out to do. It did more and beyond to improve the lives of its people.
One of the few in the country that has consistently improved and laid down solid structures and sound governance. This is essential in order to get the country working again.
Margaret Thatcher was once asked what her government’s top priority was, without hesitation she said “Education, education and education”. Education is the key. That is exactly what Ogbeni’s administration has done. Making education free at the point of entry means more children are educated. This means that the future of Osun is brighter as more children are given the opportunity to better their lot. They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the people bear witness to the changes in the state.
In the Ogbeni, the people of Osun have witnessed a committed and hard-working governor who is willing to work for the interest of its people. He has single handedly transformed his state and its people. He has produced results for all to see.
*My father, Kola Animasaun and I wish AbdulRauf, a bountiful birthday on his 61st landmark.
No point sending children to school on an empty stomach. So they offer free nutritious meals so that the children’s bodies are optimised for learning and development. The programme’s sublime quality is that it considers every aspect of the health of the children, as the programme also includes the de-worming programme and distribution of free uniforms and school materials. This means that every child is equal at the point of entry.
As a result of all these innovations, the school attendance has improved exponentially and more teachers are recruited to deal with the demand. Osun government spends more than N3 billion annually on its home-grown elementary school feeding, O’Meal. N600 million was spent on about 3,000 community caterers as well as transportation fare to the various schools.
As a result of the feeding programme, there has been an increase in the enrolment of children and a decrease in absenteeism. The meal programme employs local people; farmers, butchers, fishermen and trained women meal supervisors. You raise the most vulnerable up then everyone benefits. Osun has made big strides and other states should take a leaf from the Ogbeni’s book. Over the pond, the O’Meals programme has been recognised and earned the international recommendation and support of the London-based Partnership for Child Development (PCD). And so it should be.
The O’Yes youth programme has trained young people by providing and equipping them with employability skills. The standard of instilling good work ethic is highly motivational because it again espouses pride, confidence, self-esteem, motivation and respect for the environment, good health and ownership in their state.
The young people now have a promising future; they are equipped and are able to actively participate in nation building. Unlike other parts of the country, in Osun the young are part of the planning and at the core of the programme. They are not excluded and disenfranchised. The distribution of OPON IMO (Tablet of Knowledge) to high school pupils is now established and this will bring the young to compete with other young people in the world.
So what motivates the Ogbeni? He said: “The improvement of the lot of the people of Osun was therefore a strong motivation for my seeking office and a paramount object of the deployment of my talents. Thus, as a leader I constantly seek ways of bringing about progress and advancement for my people in every area of their lives”. We can no longer use our young as political hoodlums, thugs and professional vagrants and unemployable. We should not allow our young to be ignored for the selfish ambition of the seasoned political kleptomaniacs.
Fast forward 2018
Governor Aregbesola, during this year’s children’s Day march-past and calisthenics display ceremony, with the theme ‘Creating Safe Spaces for Our Children: Our Collective responsibility’ stated that the educated and skilled fellow will survive the future challenges. I couldn’t agree more.
Aregbesola, stated that children deserve to be celebrated on a daily basis, and that basic education is important to them. And the state government is investing in basic education to create a complete individual that will be useful to the society.
“Our administration has spent so much in the education sector because we know that we are investing in the future of our state, everybody involved with children must begin to take care of them more than ever before because a failure to do this will not be good at all.
“The future we are heading will be one that will require only the educated and highly skilled individual to survive in; it is a future that will be such that if you are not skilled, things may be difficult for you.
“Low skills and menial jobs will be eliminated in the next 50 years, only the educated and skilled individual will be relevant and that is what we are preparing our children for.”
On the significance of the calisthenics exercise, the governor said it brings about unity and team spirit which the students and every individual need to succeed in life, adding that the discipline which the exercise requires can be used to overcome any obstacle. Investing in our young, pays untold dividends, prioritising our young prepares them for the future.
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” -Greek Proverb