This blog was written by Imo Chinasa Ude, ONE Champion in Nigeria.
There is no laudable development anywhere in the world that has been achieved without indomitable drive and innovative input of young people. For a nation to develop and compete favourably with other nations, it must put youth at the center of all its economic development efforts.
International Youth Day (IYD) is an internationally recognized day to celebrate young people’s views and leadership in promoting the implementation of sustainable development policies. The theme for this year’s IYD was: ‘The Road to 2030: eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable consumption and production’ – this embodies all that ONE stands for.
On IYD this year, we hosted a two-day rally and health walk in Abuja and Lagos to raise awareness for our #MakeNaijaStronger campaign. As ONE Nigeria we are using this campaign to call on the Nigerian government and stakeholders to make health a priority by investing more in the health sector to reduce preventable deaths. For example, in Nigeria an estimated 750,000 children under the age of five die from preventable causes each year.
ONE members gathered early in the morning at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to kick off the campaign with aerobics exercises and a rally.
The first day of the Abuja event was a media storm. ONE Champions and Members spoke with various radio and TV stations to discuss the relevance of youth in society development and the adverse effect on the economy caused by the government not providing adequate funding for health for young people and the role of youths in achieving sustainable development goals by 2030. They also spoke of the importance of health investments for young people. ONE Champions, myself, Tunde Assefon and Damilola Soares were invited for a television interview on Intercontinental African TV station to appear on their international news to discuss the role young people play in achieving the SDGs. It was my first time appearing on a live broadcast, I thought I would be too shy to talk, but I think I did well for myself!
On the second day of the event, over 200 ONE members and youths from across Lagos and other neighbouring states turned out to partake in the walk. First, our walkers completed a 30 minute aerobics exercise and then the health walk began. We walked for over eight kilometres and it took participants from the National stadium to Ojuelegba, Jibowu, Yaba, and Tejuosho. We carried messages on why investing in health was important.
With the crowd of young people all dressed in ONE t-shirts, we drew the attention of passersby, government officials, and business people alike! The onlookers were curious and eager to know what our organisation is about and we were able to get over 300 cards signed in support of our #MakeNaijaStronger campaign.
Overall, the rally was a HUGE success! It drew attention to the current state of the health sector and educated members of the public on their rights to have affordable, efficient, and easy access to health care services. ONE members who participated in the walk received free medical check-ups to test for HIV, hepatitis, and malaria and were also able to partake in sessions that covered topics like networking and how to stay healthy.
Deji Badmus of Deji360, CCTV, said, “What these …. youths and the ONE group have done today is a wake-up call in the right direction for government to set their priorities right and implement good policies for citizens well-being”.
We are youth. We are young, resilient, resourceful and a force to be reckoned with! ONE LIFE, ONE HEALTH!
Thank you to the Area C Command Nigerian Police and National Road Safety Commission who assisted with crowd control and provided safety and protection for our participants. We also want to thank the Lagos State Aids Control Agency and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital for providing free medical testing and counselling to all of our participants.
Join our campaign to encourage the Nigerian government to invest more in the health sector in Nigeria. Sign our petition.