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We want a country free from corruption – Children

A cross-section of children tells TEMITOPE ADETUNJI, EMMANUEL OJO, FATTEH HAMID AND ABDULLATEEF FOWEWE what Independence Day means to them and their expectations

Esther Kelvin-Onyemaechi

What does Independence Day mean to you?

My name is Esther Kelvin-Onyemaechi. I am 11 years old and in Junior Secondary School Two. It (Independence Day) marks the day Nigeria became free from colonial rule. In other words, the day Nigeria had her independence.

How did you mark it last year?

I celebrated it by first and foremost, going to church to pray for Nigeria and committing the month to God’s hands. After that, my family and I went to places and we had some fun. I would like to celebrate it this year because I am proud to be a Nigerian.

How would you like to celebrate it?

I would like to celebrate it by, first of all, going to church to pray for Nigeria and committing the month to the hands of God. Also, I would like my family to visit an amusement park to have some fun and also visit some friends and loved ones.

What’s the Nigeria of your dreams?

I want a country where there is a better economy, employment for the unemployed, infrastructural development, and a country free from corruption.

Faaezah Onaolapo

What is your dream for Nigeria?

My name is Faaezah Onaolapo. I am an SS2 pupil of Community Grammar School, Sasa, Ibadan, Oyo State, and I am 14 years old. My ultimate dream for Nigeria is for her to become a developed country like many other developed countries in the world because we have all it takes to become one. I want a country where the masses can enjoy education, quality electricity, and many other infrastructural facilities. I also want many underdeveloped countries to look up to Nigeria.

How would you describe the state of secondary schools in your area?

The population of pupils in our schools, most especially, public secondary schools in Nigeria is more than the facilities available to give back quality education to pupils. Thus, it is impossible to state that we have quality education in Nigeria and the government is responsible for ensuring that pupils are given the best. We sing on assembly grounds claiming to be the future of tomorrow; if we are given an education that is below quality and subpar, how can we become what we dreamt to be? Some classrooms have over 200 pupils but with just about chairs that can cater for less than 100 pupils. If the condition of learning is terrible, how are pupils expected to assimilate, learn and pass exams? It will be impossible to do that. Even the laboratories for science pupils are not fully equipped. Many things are wrong with our education in Nigeria and we have a long way to go.

What are the other sectors you want the Nigerian government to improve?

The agricultural sector of our economy also needs attention. Farmers should be equipped with all they need to produce more. This will make their work easier and faster. Agriculture is important to Nigeria and we should not forget that when farmers are doing well, it’ll also attract others and they would want to venture into farming, and Nigeria would gain.

Do you think Nigeria’s independence is worth celebrating?

Yes, Nigeria’s independence is worth being celebrated because it is good to know that we are not where we started from and I also hope that being 63 will one day prompt the Nigerian government to make better decisions for nation-building.

Prince Alfred

What does independence mean to you and how did you celebrate it last year?

My name is Prince Alfred. I am 10 years old, and currently in Junior Secondary School One. I am from Kaduna State. Independence represents freedom, our country’s liberation from Britain. It was a public holiday last year, so I spent it at home.

Would you like to celebrate it this year?

Yes, I would like to celebrate it. I would like to go to Murtala Square to watch the military parade.

What is your dream for Nigeria?

I would like Nigeria to be like Canada.

Blisse Abiodun-Ojo

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Blisse Abiodun-Ojo. I am nine years old and in grade five.

As Nigeria marks its 63rd independence anniversary today, what does the event mean to you?

I would like to define independence as a state of not depending or relying on someone or something to get something done. Independence is a day set aside for a country to celebrate its freedom. For example, Independence Day marks Nigeria’s freedom from British colonial rule.

How did you mark it last year? Can you recall that?

I marked it at school with my classmates and teachers with a do-it-yourself Nigerian flag, which had the national colours – green and white. We visited an orphanage, and had fun with the kids there, after which they (the residents of the orphanage) prayed for us and we left.

Would you like to celebrate it this year?

Yes, I think so.

How would you like to celebrate it?

I would like to visit an amusement park with my family but outside that, I would like to reach out to people in need around me, if I have the resources.

Nigeria is currently faced with different challenges. What kind of country do you desire in the future?

I want Nigeria to become a peaceful and loving country so that there can be progress. I want a country where there is no tribalism, a country in which its leaders have the interest of its people at heart.

Modebare Ajiboye

Do you think Nigeria’s 63rd independence anniversary is worth celebrating?

My name is Modebare Ajiboye, I am in Primary five, and I am 10 years old. We gained freedom from the British in 1960 and it is worth celebrating. October 1, 1960, was the day Nigeria gained independence from the British.

How did you mark your Independence Day last year?

I marked it by wearing my cultural attire and celebrating Nigeria. We had an independence celebration at my school, and we made presentations about our cultures. It was entertaining and fun. I also played the talking drum during the cultural presentation. I would like to celebrate it this year by wearing my cultural attire.

What are the changes you would like to see in Nigeria?

I want a country where there will be peace and prosperity and no corrupt leaders. Also, I expect the government to give us maximum security, good education, and economic growth.

Owoyele Romilayo

What does Independence Day mean to you and what are your plans for the day?

My name is Owoyele Romilayo. I am in JSS Two. I am 12 years old. Independence Day commemorates the end of British colonialism. Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960. It is on a Sunday (today) and we were told to come in our green and white attire for an Independence Day service.

What is the Nigeria of your dreams?

The Nigeria of my dreams is that of good governance, where people, young or old, rich or poor, will get opportunities to achieve their goals.

As Nigeria marks Independence Day, what do you want the Federal Government to focus on?

We need security so that we can all be safe.

Atiyyatullah Oloso

Do you think Nigeria is doing well in terms of economic development?

My name is Atiyyatullah Oloso. I am 15 years old. No, I don’t think Nigeria is growing well in terms of economic development. If we compare Nigeria to some other countries that gained independence when it did, we are nowhere near in terms of economic development. However, we can be better; we only need the intentional efforts of our leaders to make sure that Nigeria makes progress. The naira is almost N1,000 against a dollar and just a few months ago, it was barely N700. It shows that we are retrogressing. However, it can be better and I pray that our leaders put in more effort.

What are your other hopes for Nigeria?

I hope that Nigeria will become a country that supports its citizens, in terms of education, social welfare, healthcare, and provision of employment to have a sustainable life. A country that puts its citizens first in its decisions will make progress. However, the templates of what we have seen in recent years do not show that we want to have a country that means well for its citizens.

I expect the government of President Bola Tinubu to make things right. I think Nigeria is being run by our leaders in a completely wrong way and my expectation from the new government is to turn the table around and do things the right way.

Which of the sectors do you recommend the government to improve?

The security situation in Nigeria is nothing to be proud of; it is in a sorry state. Nigeria’s government should work better on the insecurity that is plaguing the country. The reason why I chose it is because there is a Yoruba adage that says that our lives are important, and when there’s life, there’s hope. When there’s proper security, it’ll curb all forms of criminal activities like kidnapping, armed robbery, and even cultism which is now prevalent among students.

Eniola Olatunji

What does freedom mean to you, and why is it important?

My name is Eniola Olatunji. I am 10 years old, and I am in JSS 1. Freedom is a fundamental human right that protects us from being controlled; it is important because it gives us the ability to make decisions for ourselves.

How did you mark Independence Day last year?

It was a public holiday, so I stayed at home and had fun with my family. I will celebrate it this year by praying for Nigeria and going out with my family. I want a country where there is love, peace, and justice.

Mustapha Balogun

What does Nigeria’s independence mean to you?

I am Mustapha Balogun, a nine-year-old from Lagos State. My mummy explained to me that Nigeria’s independence was a significant day because it marked our liberation from the British, who had used us to serve their purpose. She said that without attaining independence, we might have been forced to serve certain individuals as servants.

Can you remember how you celebrated Independence Day in 2022?

I celebrated the last Independence Day in two locations. At school, the management organised a celebration on the day before Independence Day. They encouraged us to dress in traditional attire representing different cultures. I was assigned to dress like a Hausa man, so I wore a Hausa outfit along with a green and white cap, a green and white hand band, and a small Nigerian flag. The day was full of enjoyment, and we even had a cake shaped like Nigeria’s map in green and white colours. On the actual Independence Day, which fell on Saturday, my parents took me and my siblings to Ndubuisi Kanu Park in Alausa. There, we had the opportunity to see various cultural costumes and interact with people.

Where do you plan to mark it this year?

Since last year’s Independence Day, I have been asking my father to take us to Eagle Square, Abuja, to experience the event. He promised to do so, until yesterday when he informed us that the Federal Government would not celebrate it in the same way as before. Instead, he said he would take us to the National Theatre to commemorate it. Also, we will celebrate it in our school as usual.

Charles Ndukauba

What are your thoughts about Nigeria’s Independence?

My name is Charles Ndukauba, and I am the Ambassador of the Anambra State Children’s Parliament at the National Children’s Parliament in Abuja. I was born on June 12, 2007. I am 16 years old. Nigeria’s independence is a significant historical event that marked the end of British colonial rule and the establishment of modern Nigeria. It took place on October 1, 1960. Our independence represents a tremendous milestone for our country, symbolising the commencement of self-governance and self-sufficiency.

How did you celebrate the event last year?

It was a joyful occasion. My team and I visited different maternity and orphanage centres across different local governments. We organised an edutainment event where younger children had the opportunity to dance and sing. It was part of the activities we had planned during our meeting at the National Children’s Parliament in Abuja before Independence Day. I would have enjoyed attending the school’s parade, but it was cancelled by the local government organisers, due to the high level of insecurity in the state.

Do you plan to do the same this year?

The Children’s Parliament intends to organise a meeting on Independence Day, where all its members will come together to discuss and find ways to contribute towards making our nation great, as we are the future leaders.