Stakeholders have attributed the alarming increase in the number of rape cases in the country to the gradual collapse of the family system. This was part of the submission of discussants while featuring on the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State radio station, FUNAAB Radio 89.5FM live interactive programme, Boiling Point. They called on Nigerians to give adequate attention to the family, stressing that most parents get too busy, thereby neglecting the training and nurturing that their children require.
A legal practitioner, Barr. Kayode Aderemi, said society should begin to invest in the family structure to protect innocent children. He warned parents and guardians to be mindful of what they teach their children, noting that an unpleasant and first impression may take a lifetime to clear off their minds. On his part, the National Secretary of Child Protection Network, Ogun State, Mr. Olakunle Sanni, said the situation in the country had left more children exposed to rape. He maintained that measures should be put in place to curb the menace of rape.
Mr. Sanni added that “When we look at the legislation, our children are safer than before, but looking at socio-economic situations, our children are more exposed than before”. He added that the family should always provide for a child’s need so that he/she would hardly face sexual assault. In a similar vein, Mrs. Oviutu Adeleke, also of the Child Protection Network Ogun State said Nigerians should start creating awareness about rape, noting that it was the responsibility of everyone to nurture a child to maturity. She, however, regretted that the expected family protection is no longer there in view of the spate of insecurity and kidnapping prevalent in the country.
In her intervention, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of FUNAAB, Prof. Bolanle Akeredolu-Ale has said unless the lots of women and girl-child are improved, society would continue to operate at its lowest ebb. She stated this when she spoke as a guest speaker at the swearing-in and investiture of Dr. Taiwo Alakija-Aroyeun as the third chairperson of the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria (SWAN), Abeokuta Chapter, Ogun State. The Don noted that it was appalling that gender inequality still existed globally despite the United Nations Resolution 1325 and Beijing Conference Declaration, which was adopted by 189 countries.
Prof. Akeredolu-Ale, who listed factors such as history, culture, and religion as major contributors to gender inequality or gender imbalance added that this could manifest in lack of access to education by the girl-child, disparity in wages, unequal access to employment opportunities, and lack of access to legal representation, among others. She called on the government to give the girl-child access to basic education and health, to increase their life expectancy and provide them an economic opportunity and political empowerment. Dr. Alakija-Aroyeun explained that the association “Gives scholarship to students, engages in health talks, advances education and organise in-house training for members and SWAN Open Day for female students and professionals”. The ICAN President, Dame Onome Adewuyi, said the institute “Gives both male and female members equal opportunities to excel and contribute their quota to the accounting profession”.
Nigerian youths have been called upon to prioritise education in their endeavours in life. This was the position of discussants on the same programme, where they opined that doing so would make them stand out among their peers. They said money should not be the sole aim of coming into the entertainment industry, but rather, focus more on increasing their knowledge through sound education. A comedian, Senayon Nasiru, said comedy is 70% appearance and comedians have to polish and develop themselves, saying these would increase their market share and described entertainers as life-savers for many Nigerians.
He noted, with dismay, the effect of drug abuse in society, stressing that “We need to start doing something from home to stop the menace in our society”, adding that the government should appreciate the importance of comedians and the entertainment industry in general. Mr. Anthony Bamidele, popularly known as Woli Android Alagba, said comedians needed to be passionate and always have it at the back of their minds that they want to make people happy. Aside from rape, gender imbalance, governments at all levels, have been charged to enact laws with capital punishment to curb the menace of drug abuse.
This suggestion was given by a Mental Health Specialist at the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Mr. Segun Alege, while also featuring on the radio programme. Mr. Alege emphasised the need for proper management of drug abuse cases in society and urged governments to provide mental health facilities for drug abuse victims. The Mental Health Specialist also admonished non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to open centres across the country, to allow those suffering from the adverse effects of drug abuse to get rehabilitated. No doubt, the various discourses above have shown that the challenges facing the girl-child and indeed, the Nigerian youth are much, but can be solved. What we need to do is for all concerned to brace up and address the issues.