‘Our nation’s greatness is measured by how we treat those who are the most vulnerable-AL-Gore, Former Vice President of the United States of America. Each passing day in Nigeria brings to mind the fact that despite the widening strides by civil society organizations (CSO’s) and development minded individuals to save the girl child from all forms of violence, girls are still suffering from a lot of indignities and other bestial acts just because they are females.
Among others, this position was most recently illustrated by the reported killing of Miss Uwaila Vera Omozuwa, a 22- year-old 100-level student of the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Benin, Edo State, on Wednesday 27th May, 2020, inside the Ikpoba Hill branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Benin, Edo State.
Indeed, a striking human tragedy that has caused angry and emotional outbursts among. It becomes even more painful when one remembers that Omozuwa’s death could have been avoided if parents and government had acted on mountains of evidence which over the years warned that such was coming which they ignored describing it as a prank.
But today, it is obvious that Nigeria is in danger-not from attack by external aggression, but from unprecedented changes in its environment. I do not mean the physical environment but the moral environment. And it is simply no longer possible to ignore.
Fundamentally, this piece is not alone in this feeling that something has gone wrong, Nigerians with critical interest have expressed similar feelings.
In fact, while many well meaning Nigerians have within this period of mourning argued that castration of rapists may serve as solution, others believe that the most important instrument to curbing this challenge is to uphold, domesticate and enforce the United Nation’s Universal declaration on human rights and other international human rights instrument, in particular the convention on the rights of the child, as well as the declaration on the elimination of violence against women and ensure the full implementation of the human rights of women and of the girl child as inalienable, integral and an indivisible part of all human rights and fundamental freedom.
Unquestionably a perfect argument but there remains, of course, the question of extent to which our society and the country has lost its moral values. Significantly, for such act to have been committed in the church points at a society that is lying spiritually prostrate and a country that is high in religiosity but poor in spirituality.
The solution for these problems, urgent as they are, must be constructive and rational. But then, it would be naive proffering solutions without acknowledging the factors that contributes to this challenge the country currently grapples with.
Beginning with reality, the loudest of all these factors is; parent’s inability to teach their children that ‘proper order of things is to start now and be who you want to be, then do the action that goes along with being that person, and soon you will find that you easily have everything you want in life-health, wealth, and fulfilling relationship’.
To shed more light on the above, the vast majority of parents have, in their concern with values such as work, success, prestige, and money starved these children of good moral upbringing while forgetting that what the children desire most are love, solidarity, peace, faith and good moral upbringing.
In taking such position, one vital point parents failed to remember is that the formation of children is a delicate one. And experts have described adolescence as a period of the storm, a stage in the developmental growth of the youths that drives the youths to explore and express their psychosexual self to possibly know more about the world around them. Once the point is missed, such ignorance and mistake by the parents causes on the child an opening that many a time is wrongly filled by ‘friends’.
Aside from the failures of parents, there are evidence that this present national malady is rooted in what James Ter Tssoiur, a Professor of media and cultural communication, termed politicide. Politicide according to him is the death of progressive politics. It is the entrenchment of the act of political corruption, electoral fraud, empty political rhetoric, false electoral promises, electoral violence and blatant subversion of the dictatorship of the electorates. It is avaricious loot that terrorize and dehumanizes the people they are supposed to protect. Politics in their context, invariably involves intimidating people, being sly, getting things done by lying or other dishonest ways.
Their actions and inactions have created an atmosphere in the country that portrays intimidation as a means to an end. And canal rapists are learning very fast. They are worse than those seeking sexual intercourse with an individual without his or her consent, but through force or the threat of force. The assertion of power by politicians over our commonwealth daily destroys and breaks the trust which is absolutely essential for the delicate alchemy at the heart of representative democracy.
For the educational environment, the story is not different.
The excruciating experience that our female students pass through in the hands of rapists masquerading as lecturers, tell the story. The Ivory towers which were structured to be the leading light in dispensation of positive knowledge that shapes character of future leaders is now for yet to be identified reasons rape those that they were meant to protect. In the various institutions of higher learning, grades are now for sale and it goes to the highest bidder.
This fact, says a commentator, explains why our educational system which used to be a model to other nations of the world and a beacon of glory for Africa-and immensely adored and celebrated globally as our students/graduates showed unsearchable depth and great intellects in every discourse, ahead of their counterparts in other nations, have recently taken a nose dive. To the extent that countries that once esteemed our educational system can hardly admit Nigerian students now, let alone employ graduates unless they undergo a compulsory preliminary training.
Our religious place of worship is also flooded with ‘economic rapists’. The preaching of salvation is no longer at the front burner of some of these groups. Separate from spending more time preaching prosperity and eulogizing criminals, the resources of their poor congregants are used to build schools that their children will never attend. The money contributed by these helpless poor is also used to buy and service private jets that they will not enter.
From the foregoing, it is important to underline that the present predicament was created by the parents, accelerated by the government and the society is harvesting the fruit. An effort, therefore, must be made by all to end its existence and erase the guilt.
Catalyzing the process will require parents becoming more religious in monitoring the activities of their wards. Similarly, it will be rewarding in social and economic terms if the government pays more attention to the nation’s educational sector as a way of getting these youths gainfully engaged. This, no doubt holds the possibility of ending such scourge.
Youths on their parts must develop the Spartan discipline to reorganize, and go for activities with high moral values.
WRITTEN BY Jerome-Mario Utomi