Urgent action is required at a large scale for the effective development of Nigerian children to ensure they contribute to generate public good, says the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG.
The group explained that Nigerian children represent the greatest assets the country has and as such, investments should be made to guarantee better futures for the children.
Warning that talk is cheap and unproductive, the NESG called for ‘collective urgent action’ to tackle the disadvantages of the Nigerian child.
NESG’s position was disclosed at a press briefing where it officially endorsed a partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, in Abuja.
Niyi Yusuf, the Chairman of NESG explained that the group would work with UNICEF to support the government in breaking cycles of child poverty and protect children’s rights in Nigeria.
”The NESG will support the Nigerian government and focus on aligning the nation’s poverty reduction strategies with the child and national Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).
“We say the children are the leaders of tomorrow and so it’s important we invest and plant seeds to ensure that these children truly become the leaders.
“‘Talk is cheap, we need action which is the only solution to the problem and that is why we are partnering with UNICEF.
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”We need to plant seeds to ensure that by 2050 when Nigeria reaches 400 million, with 67% under 35 years, public good and peace will not be missing,” he said.
The group promised to bring technocrats and donors together, serve as a think tank and a watchdog on issues that concern the well being of children in Nigeria.
The NESG Chief Executive Officer, Laoye Jaiyeola on his part explained that it will take the efforts of all Nigerians to pull children out of poverty, reiterating that action is needed at a large scale with a sense of urgency.
”Efforts need to be pulled together to attack the challenges of poverty facing the Nigerian child.
”Eliminating this poverty means getting the children back to school, reducing the number of out of school children and reducing poverty in homes, which forces children into labour,” she said.
Meanwhile, Cristian Munduate, the UNICEF Nigeria Country Rep, emphasised that investing in children indirectly means investing in human capital.
She explained that the partnership with NESG brings to light the urgency of the required investment and will help harness efforts to achieve child rights protection in Nigeria.
She said, ”the right nutrition and care, especially during the first 1000 days of life, can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty. It can break the cycle of poverty for families, communities, and countries, and shape a society’s long-term stability and prosperity.”