Activist and United Nations Ambassador, Malala Yousafzai on Wednesday, met with Vice President Kashim Shettima, at the Presidential Villa Abuja, where she continued her advocacy for girl child education.
The visit, which coincides with her 26th birthday anniversary, saw her estimating that over 120 million female children were still deprived of education, despite the benefits inherent in it.
Ten years ago, Malala made a speech at the UN. She was later made the UN Peace Messenger. She returned to Nigeria as part of her tenth year anniversary at the UN to further raise awareness on the plight of girl children and the need for all-round educational pursuit to make them relevant to society.
She told State House Correspondents shortly after the meeting with the number two citizen that her visit to the seat of power is hinged on the need to boost advocacy for girls’ education.
Her words: ” I am here in Nigeria to celebrate my 26th birthday. Since my UN speech at age 16, I have been going around the world meeting girls from different parts of the world and raising awareness about the issues that girls face.
“We know that there are more than 120 million girls who do not have access to education right now and just as people spoke out about my education, I want them to think about the education of other girls as well.
“In Nigeria, I’m here because girls’ education is important here. It will determine the future of Nigeria. So, I’m here because I want to bring attention to those issues. I’m here to speak as well and share my thoughts with the communities, and also lucky that I was able to meet girls in Abuja. I was also able to go to Borno State and meet incredible girls, visit their schools and also meet the education activists. It is the work of the education activists, girls and civil society and government that gives us hope that we can have a better future for the education of all children, especially girls here. I was very lucky that I had the meeting with the Vice President and he gave us his time; he gave us his support”.
She urged all tiers of government in Nigeria to make deliberate efforts to send girls to school, and ensure that every child in Nigeria has access to complete education.
“I make bold to say that every child should have access to free and quality education, I also ask that we make full financial commitment to ensure that no child is left behind in this country.
“I have been to Nigeria three times. I came here in 2014 to show solidarity to the Chibok girls who had been abducted and I was able to meet their parents as well. I came here again in 2017 and I saw more of the work that activists are doing and I met girls. I’m here again and I have seen how much has changed in the past few years and it is because of the commitment of government officials and also the work of civil society and education activists and the determination of girls.
“I was able to meet girls and hear from them directly how they are standing up for their rights. They are not remaining silent. They want a better education; they want quality education for themselves. So, that is what gives me hope and that is what brings me to Nigeria and I think that tells us that the future of Nigeria is bright if you give girls a chance and if you invest in their education,” She stated after the meeting at the presidency.