11-year-old Nigerian receives standing ovation at UN Conference on the Rule of Law

"The future of children is in the hands of parents, leaders and policymakers. I plead with you to join hands together to make our world a better, safer and more inclusive space." One week ago, 11-year-old Naomi Oloyede's words against corruption and crime received a standing ovation from 350 educators, academics, policymakers, experts and Member States representatives gathered at UNODC Headquarters in Vienna for the International High-Level Conference "Educating for the Rule of Law: Inspire Change Together".

Naomi, a Junior Secondary School pupil at Abuja's Battle Axe Academy, is passionate about using creative arts to advocate for social change. Particularly engaged in the fight against corruption, she was enrolled in the pilot programme of UNODC's Education for Justice (E4J) tools in Nigeria. Very vocal in the group discussions on Emeka's Money book, Naomi participated in a debate session opposing the motion that 'As a young person, there was nothing she could do to fight corruption'. It was from that debate that she was selected as one of Step Up Nigeria's Young Anti-corruption Champions and an E4J champion.

"In the world we live in, corruption and organized crime have been the order of the day. Hardly days pass by without us hearing breaking news on corruption. What to do to fight corruption?" asked the young Nigerian girl before calling on youth and others to resist the temptation of peer pressure, learn how to say no to wrong doings and avoid groups committing crime. Naomi also urged the Government to provide better education to children.

The three-day Conference aimed at proposing innovative ways to empower the next generation of change makers and brought together stakeholders from across the globe working in both the education and justice fields. Held at the UN headquarters in Vienna, Austria, the event saw policymakers, educators and academics gather, as well as the main beneficiaries of the programme - children and youth. Naomi was one of the several youngsters present to share their perspectives and visions on corruption, crime and rule of law-related matters, in the presence of UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov.

"The landmark Doha Declaration adopted in 2015 at the UN Crime Congress recognized the fundamental role of education in preventing crime and strengthening the rule of law," noted Mr. Fedotov during the opening of the Conference. "Stepping up efforts to promote a culture of lawfulness, in line with the Doha Declaration, is key to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030."

Through the E4J Initiative, UNODC is currently working with the Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria to promote the integration of crime prevention and other rule of law-related tools and materials into the education curriculum at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. To this end, earlier this year UNODC Nigeria conducted a Training of Trainers on E4J tools and materials for over 80 teachers, trainers from education colleges and training institutes, youth volunteers, and civil society organizations.

Dr. Zainab Bagudu, First lady of Kebbi State, Ambassador Vivian N. Okeke, Nigeria Permanent Mission in Vienna, and educators and professors from different parts of the country were also present in Vienna. Dr. Bagudu emphasized the importance of investing in education in informal settings as a powerful tool to promoting a culture of lawfulness and creating strong impact on E4J activities while Ambassador Okeke called for the adaptation of E4J tools to fit the specific local context of Nigeria, suggesting the expansion of integrity and zero tolerance clubs in primary and secondary schools levels by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission.