My name is Anita Ambi, and I am 25 years old, and a U-Reporter based in Kano State in Nigeria. I live in the northern part of the country, where insecurity and poverty rise daily. As part of my actions in U-Report, in 2021, I was invited to collect the voices of young people through the U-Report World Children’s Day (WCD) poll, focused on instilling resilience and hope and discovering how Nigerian youth have been dealing with the pandemic.
In the country, the pandemic has forced a nationwide lockdown whereby students all over Nigeria could not go to school for almost a whole session. As a result, many lives were affected and changed drastically as these children were forced to become providers in their homes. In fact, 2020 was a challenging year for children of school age. Many were seen hawking when they could, becoming farm helpers, or engaging in varying menial jobs.
With my U-Report team, we took this poll as an opportunity to invite young people to share their opinions of how they have been coping with the pandemic. Some of them, who stopped their education to work, shared with us some messages: “I wanted to help my parents because they lost their jobs due to the pandemic,” “I was so bored at home, I just wanted to learn something.”
As a U-Reporter, it became my duty to ensure that the voices of Nigerian children are heard because they matter. These are the voices of the leaders of tomorrow, and when they decide to engage themselves positively, this will impact the future of their community. Many of the young people that we talked to have concluded that since the system didn’t seem to be working in favor of them, they would do what it takes to remove themselves and their families from the shackles of poverty which seems to be the norm in the north of the country.
The tenacity that these young people show toward the pandemic continues to restore hope. However, decision-makers must reopen schools and give young people skills and opportunities to achieve a better future. In addition, much appreciation, therefore, needs to be accorded to platforms such as U-Report Nigeria as they seek to encourage and listen to youth.
Credit: Anita Ambi, U-Reporter Nigeria