Nigerian children, Nigeria’s future

April 17, 2017 Africa , Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo



Prince Charles Dickson


“It is 9 o’clock, do you know where your children are?” – Frank Olize, popular retired NTA anchorman.


I originally wrote this some four years ago under the title; That Nigerian Child…Of Ours, today I am updating it.

It’s Easter, and a sizable amount of Nigerian children are on vacation, we called it holidays during our time. This admonition to beloved Nigerians ordinarily was ‘The Nigerian Child’, sadly as I reflected I found it difficult to even define the term anymore, just like the ‘Nigerian Dream’, a lot of things seem to be eroding Nigeria, I guess the only thing remaining probably is the Nigerian spirit, the resilience and the myth, and forgive me if I add our collective foolishness for what it’s worth.

So I deviate from all the politics, the monies that are orphans or the millions and billions depending on which currency; whose paternity and relationship has become a strong questionable matter, to ask you, to ask us, do we know where not only our kids are right now, but how our actions today affect them? Simply answered, some of us would say, the sitting room, in the parlor, bedroom, children’s room, and all sorts of rooms. They could be at the neighbors, or holidaying with big aunty, uncle, grandma or pa…for those with the reserves the children could be vacating, not necessarily holidaying–a lot would understand my drift, as these days, while children of the masses manage a holiday, ‘their’ kids do vacation.

In the next few paragraphs I will tell quite a lot of us where our children are, while they are right under our noses, they have gone far away…today that Nigerian child can barely speak his local dialect, unless he lives in the suburb where English is restricted to pidgin, that Nigerian child is divided by those that will never get the Montessori education because they have to make do with the now non-existent local government education authority education where Maths is taught in Yoruba for better understanding.

That Nigerian child is the very shadow of his/her parents today–they cannot recite the National Anthem or Pledge, they are experts at foreign nursery rhymes that depict heroes alien to us, so much that our own heroes and their labour are fast disappearing. The other kids that can manage to recite it, simply mock it…”I pledge to serve my country is not by force…”

Do you recall when this phrase was popular–‘kneel down, close your eyes, and hands up’ or ‘pick a pin’, when we were given a whole exercise book to fill up with the sentence, ‘ I promise not to…(depending on whatever crime committed)? We have come to refer to it as the good old days, yes the days of Onward exercise book, and the 2×2 timetable at the back, and I recall the years of waiting before one would wear his/ her first trouser/skirt to school because you were now a senior.

We folded our textbooks with used newspapers and calendars and a whole family used one particular text ‘Understanding Mathematics’ and after six years, it was still crisp clean although not many of us still understood the Math. So what happened to that Nigerian child, he/she now if they must write on exercise books, had to use the one with the picture of Lionel Messi or Chelsea, we call it globalization, but really what is global about your child that cannot write a narrative essay of how his/her last holiday was spent.

Where is your child, he/she is preparing for one of the reality television shows, rather than reading, as Google everyday is taking the place of group study. Our kids are viewing Penguins of Madagascar, why not Eagles of Nigeria at least.

That Nigerian child has stopped to recite the states and their capitals, my son knows more about Abraham Lincoln, George Washington than he does of Awolowo or Ahmadu Bello, and doesn’t understand why Nnamdi Azikwe, is called Zik of Africa.

We are so concerned about the future that we are hardly paying attention to today. Our children do not really do the good old arts and home economics or agriculture, what we have is a mockery by Tom, Dick and Harry Private Schools littered all over the place. Where are our children, the ones that can run during the inter-house school’s competition, the ones that would play the principal’s cup?

We have and keep raising shopping mall and ice cream children, while 10 million other children of school-going age are watching. Where are your kids, in some private school, but we simply forget that in some states teachers have been perpetually on strike, so for a minute reflect, where are those children going to?

When did you last hear the phrase “panel of judges, co-debaters, guests and friends…I am here to tell you that PDP and APC are the problem of Nigeria.” No, on the contrary we are only treated to the once a year school ritual of prize giving for children that we really do not know where they are. So why express surprise at the quality of debate and intellect on display on the floor of the National Assembly.

A lot has and keeps changing but should our value system be thrown away because we are evolving, because suddenly a 6 year old has a phone and the only form of flogging he gets is for his parents to say “Magu you are grounded.” Just like the loots are grounded in various safe houses, we spare the rod, we spoil the children and we are upset that corruption is eating up our fabric, like we are not the same parents that instruct teachers not to exercise corporal punishment on our children.

So you think you know where your children are, do these children of yours ever read the newspapers, certainly not; we are protecting them from the nuisance we adults have become, but social media is exposing the fact that #ourmumudonset#.

When last did you see a kiddo reading a James Hadley Chase, on the contrary, we watch Harry Potter with them, and do PlayStation with them, after all it sharpens their brains.

Maybe in those days of yore we were too scared of our father, or too close to our mom, but someone tell me what was wrong with it, that we changed all so soon, to this point where we are losing our children, losing our innocence to an age of black and white berries, face and back books, iPads and all sorts of pads.

Where is your daughter, I hear you say she’s by my side, tell us the truth, is that not because it is one of those rare days. We have practically raised house help/domestic staff children because we are busy stealing; sorry I meant looking for money. So these days, the young girls cannot boil hot water, fast food children and the boys are no different, turn a bulb on by the switch and he says, “I am not sure I know how it’s done”.

These days we talk so much politics, but how about our homes, that Nigerian child that is taught to lie to his father, and learns about abortion from the mother. The stark reality stares us in the face; by 2030 what kind of Nigerians will we have, after we have bought examination questions for them, when they have seen us live extremely far above our earnings.

Today the events in our polity are all there in the social sphere, government magic and the confusion in leadership, despair and division amongst citizenry is glaring to our kids; whither way Nigeria’s future—Only time will tell.










Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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