Leaders from Nigeria’s private sector and entertainment industry today joined Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka for a reading of his poem A Child Before a Mirror of Strangers.
In a statement made available to newsmen by UNICEF that the poem is dedicated to children around the world in commemoration of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which celebrates a milestone 30th anniversary this year.
“There is one common bond among all of us and that bond is childhood,” said Prof. Soyinka. “We have the responsibility to protect and preserve the integrity of that sole common bond, which is pertinent to all humanity.”
The event, a collaboration between UNICEF and the British Deputy High Commission, brought key leaders and influencers from Nigeria’s private sector and entertainment industry together to discuss how these sectors can help advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the realization of children’s rights.
“Achieving the SDGs and achieving child rights go hand-in-hand,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative.
“Both will only be achieved if all sectors of business are fully engaged. Child rights and the SDGs need to be integrated into business principles, strategies and plans, which, in turn, can contribute to more robust and inclusive economic growth and improved employment of young people. That is good for children, good for business and good for Nigeria.”
With a population close to 200 million people and an ever-increasing youth bulge, Nigeria is experiencing increasing demands on schools and health facilities, and growing challenges for young people to find work, amongst other challenges.
In an appeal directly to children, musician, producer and songwriter Cobhams Asuquo said, “You are all that is right in Nigeria because you are the chance to rewrite all of wrongs that generations before you have done. You have a chance and a clean state to make this country the place we all dream of.”
A strong push will need to be made by all if Nigeria is to meet the SDGs by 2030. The private sector could be a critical key in unlocking opportunities for young people, and also addressing poverty, combatting inequality and tackling environmental problems.
“We are pleased to work with UNICEF, the private sector, and young people themselves on ideas that will contribute to a better Nigeria for current and future generations of children,” said Harriet Thompson, British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria.
“With the anniversary of the CRC this year, the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child next year and only 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, we must work together and with urgency to scale-up solutions in Nigeria that will improve our planet and all people’s lives, especially our children.”