Nigeria’s straying teenagers

By Kenechukwu Obiezu

When a nineteen year old boy recently fell afoul of the law by procuring abortion drugs for his fourteen year old girlfriend in Lagos, and was predictably docked, the malaise assailing Nigeria`s teeming teenagers fell under the harsh glare of judicial scrutiny.
When a society gleefully glides to the cellars of morality and those whose duty it falls to provide moral leadership and direction display apathy and even dereliction, work left undone and ills left unchecked become emboldened and begin to take trophies.

This time around, it is some of our youngest, vulnerable and most impressionable minds that are ripe for the taking.
It has been a long time in coming and insidiously so. As society has opened up to modernization and technology and parental guidance has waned, most teenagers have found themselves on crossroads swayed by delightful but deleterious pleasures. The signs and scars are many and ubiquitous.
Teenage cultists and gangsters hold vast swathes of some states to ransom, teenagers fall prey to terrorists` recruitments, teenagers take to armed robbery and commercial sex work while an innumerable number fall through the cracks of poor and porous education and educational institutions respectively.
The Nigerian society assailed by corruption and shocking moral erosion has found itself grappling with a malaise that can have even more pernicious effects on the very fabric and foundation of the Nigeria society. It is the rapid loss of traditional values.

Nowhere is this annihilation of traditional values gaining more space and success as in the bosom of the family.   With more marriages crumbling and homes rocked and eventually broken, more and more casualties are churned out, immediately laying siege to the future of society which we rightly and presciently ascribe to our children who we watch pass on from one stage of life to the other. With most homes crumbling before children are sufficiently taught the basic mores of moral and civic existence, and some homes retaining only a semblance of stability while being completely dysfunctional, the very first layer of education, and one which is the most critical is ruined. In our schools, especially in the public schools which fall the lot of most kids, the situation is darkly depressing. Poor educational standards, scant resources and lose moral and civic education coalesce into a nightmare hounding our kids. The result is what we see.

At the level of society, public figures and celebrities alike have scantily helped with the toxicity of the messages they send across, consciously and unconsciously to these vulnerable minds. Most teenagers are attuned to celebrities, especially musicians and in their music and lifestyle, they envision the sort of lives they want to live and lead; a life of fame and fortune.
In a country where the national cake, and its sharing, has become a metaphor for politics, and wealth-while-in-office is elevated above service and patriotism, the rot indeed begins from the head and rapidly spreads to the rest of the body. With the front offices of the country and states rapidly outdoing one another in the moral erosion sweepstakes, there is a dearth of moral direction and leadership. The advent and proliferation of mobile technology, most marked by the ubiquity of mobile phones have ensured that reading, that noble exercise so helpful to the mind, is given less emphasis and time, and porn and other deleterious materials and news items are in rich supply .

As the aphorism which holds `that children are the leaders of tomorrow,’ grows clichéd and worn out in the face of interminable and forced political relevance by old and expired political war horses, the society must rise to the ills which confronts its teenagers and children by extension, and reclaim the reins which the forces of chaos hold in a vice-like grip. From the home to schools to churches and all public spaces, everybody must get involved in the moral education ad redirection of our straying teenagers, lest we bequeath the Nigeria of tomorrow to a ruthless  culture of bacteria.

Kenechukwu Obiezu, Abuja

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