Nigerian musician and disk jockey, Florence Otedola popularly known as ‘DJ Cuppy’ has expressed concerns over the state of education in the country, especially in the North-East.
DJ Cuppy, who is an ambassador for Save the Children UK, believes that improved education for young persons displaced by the decade-long insurgency would lead to a better society of all Nigerians.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, she maintained that the lack of education for children in the region may affect their lives even after the crisis.
“As a B.Sc and Masters holder, everybody knows how I feel about education; throughout my musical career, I have always referenced how education has been a powerful tool for me," she said.
“Visiting the Stabilization Centre (in Maiduguri) today, I have learnt that education is a key concern in the conflict in Nigeria. The Humanitarian Needs Overview estimates that there were 2.2 million school-aged children and teachers in North Eastern Nigeria who need immediate education in emergency support.
“Over 800 schools, primarily in Borno state, are still non-functional mainly due to inaccessibility as a result of insecurity. These children’s education cannot wait. Around Nigeria, there are millions of ‘young DJ Cuppy’s’ who do not know their own strength and their ability to change the world because of where they are born.”
A member of Save the Children’s African Advisory Board, DJ Cuppy said she has decided to lend her voice to a project that would have positive and meaningful impact on society.
“At the stabilisation centre, I was able to observe and learn about childhoods that come to an early end, significantly because of ill-health, malnutrition, exclusion from education, child marriage, early pregnancy and violent death, especially in conflict affected regions in Nigeria, such as Maiduguri," she continued.
“Without treatment, one out of every five children will die of severe acute malnutrition. I would like to take this opportunity to applaud Save the Children for saving thousands of lives in distress as I’ve seen at the stabilization centre today, but there are still many more Children to save.
“I am using my voice to speak for those who don’t have voices. Just like the young girls I met today; I’ve grown from a young Nigerian girl with dreams but now I am a woman with a global vision. My vision is to save every child that I can.
“At least 550,000 babies are thought to have died as a result of armed conflict between 2013 and 2017 in the 10 worst-affected countries, including Nigeria.
“Another Save the Children report reveals that one in five children are living in areas affected by armed conflict and war than at any time in more than 20 years. Why us? Why Nigeria? Every day children face the threat of being killed, recruited by armed groups, abducted, falling victim to sexual violence, or humanitarian aid denied,” she said.
DJ Cuppy urged well-meaning Nigerians, organisations and the government to join Save the Children to combat the myriad challenges of education, malnutrition, insecurity, and other relating vices contending with the future of the Nigerian child.
The Country Director for Save the Children, Nigeria, Deirdre Keogh, said: “Save the Children works in about 50 countries in the world; we work with poor children and their families, and focus particularly on education, proactive protection from harm and abuse, and the right to live a healthy life.”
She explained that Save the Children in Nigeria is working in about 12 states, with special focus on access to health and nutrition benefits, education, as well as security of the lives of the children.
Earlier, the Director of Advocacy and Campaign for Save the Children Nigeria, Amanuel Mamo, said the organisation is working with stakeholders to ensure that policies address the needs of children in the region.
“We create a safe space for children, especially the girls to discuss and interact about their own issues. In those kinds of safe spaces, they come to realise that education is actually the key to transform and make the right decisions in their lives – for example, the decision to get married before or after 18," Mamo said.
“We are raising awareness to make sure that they are equipped and empowered with the necessary information. At policy level, we try to make sure that the right policies are on the ground and those policies are funded and implemented; we do collaborate with the government and other local and international partners.
“We are also trying to work with cultural and traditional leaders; those are the opinion leaders within the societies. Those opinion leaders have a key role and responsibility in terms of shaping mindsets, attitudes, practices, and behaviours with regards to how we treat children, especially the girls.
“Today in Gombe state, there was a meeting that happened by Save the Children International, through our Girls Education Promotion Project, where we met and have discussed with traditional and religious leaders on their roles and responsibilities to promote girls’ education and reproductive and sexual rights in general.”
Earlier, the Country Director, Save the Children Nigeria, Deirdre Keogh, said it is important for relevant stakeholders to help alleviate the plights of the victims of the insurgency, especially the children.