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ZERO TOLERANCE FOR SOCIAL VICES (Partnership with the Church)
PAPER PRESENTED AT ST. AUGUSTINE CATHOLIC CHAPLAINCY, AKOKA, YABA
By FRANCIS CHILAKA, PROGRAM DIRECTOR
KUTH FOUNDATION, SURULERE, LAGOS
February 26, 2013

WHEN DID IT ALL START

“Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins”.

Where if I should ask is our moral process? Are we a people that are willing to search and learn the truth? Or are we all rather comfortable with the pretense and mediocrity around us? How has the giant of African suddenly become an ant? With social vices and unprecedented immorality reigning supreme. 

Several years back, parents placed the greatest premium on human life and human person, particularly in its social context. This is manifested sometimes in the various names the parents give their children, for instance, take the Igbo people, names such as Mmaduka (people are more important than wealth) or Nwakaego (child is more valuable than money). Money and wealth have value only in their service to man and community. No service or sacrifice is too much for the saving of life. This orientation made it easy for people to work together for the progress of the community. The total wealth in the community may be small, but there is provision for all to share in this. In order words, people’s right to food, shelter and work was assured and guaranteed.

However, with the introduction of western education/values, and capitalistic economy, certain amount of selfishness has been introduced into our social life. Instead of emphasis on the social function of money and wealth, the emphasis has shifted to money and wealth as an end.

The oil boom of the 1970’s rather than being a blessing, has become a curse in disguise. It was during this period that the value disorientation (from the human person to wealth) reached its peak and has since remained there. People generally stopped working or did the least work in search for wealth. A person’s social standing was determined by his material possession – his dress, houses, cars and other externals. Farmers abandoned the land for retail and wholesale business; medical doctors, school teachers, professors, and other professionals turned into contractors; civil servants were more interested in the “commissions” they got from the beneficiaries of government contracts, or the bribe they received from those seeking their services than in the work they were hired to do.

Flamboyant preachers and churches emerged, who from their message and life style showed that they were more interested in the things of this earth than the things of heaven, and who turned preaching into a successful financial industry. Creating room for wealth acquisition to the detriment of the flock.

Traders adulterated their products and inflated their prices to get their share of the booty. Contractors, after paying the bribe and high “commissions” to the Tenders’ Board, performed substandard services and could not be questioned by the responsible government officials who have participated in the scandal.

Students were not left out in this inordinate search for money, especially after the government in her usual madness and lack of planning took over missionary schools – a daylight robbery one would say. The Federal Government and its agencies could not manage these schools as efficiently as their original owners. Moreover, the frequent changes introduced into the educational system which has culminated into the 6-3-3-4 system were poorly implemented and inadequately funded. The long period of non-payment of salaries of the teachers further worsened the situation. As such, the “hungry teachers” were not expected to put in their best. The frequent strike actions embarked upon by the teachers at all levels hastened the collapse of the entire system.

The result is the turning out of half-baked pupils and students who are ready to embrace all forms of social vices including the purchase of educational certificates or fake certificates with their money or that of their parents. When the educational authorities began to clamp down on certificate racketeering, many of them (especially males) pulled out of school completely. While many went into politics just for money,  voting for any policy at all as long as they made some money out of the exercise. Others to maintain a social image of self importance turned to robbery and all other forms of fraudulent practices. The overall result of these is the worsening situation of underdevelopment in our society.

It is rather very unfortunate that some people attribute social problems to “natural law”. Similarities are usually drawn between “natural” social problems in society and the natural “law of survival of the fittest” in zoology. But this is so only when one loses sight that man-made traditions and structures influence the survival process.

On the other hand still, some people equally regard social problems as abnormal phenomena that should not be there at all. For instance, prostitution one of the main social vices that is consuming our female youth population is seen by many as an abnormal pattern of city life, instead as a normal product of materialistic society that emphasizes wealth and pleasure against moral living.

One hardly needs an expert to make an authoritative statement on the issue that the Nigerian society is decaying. A dismal picture that emerges in Nigeria since independence is that of decaying society. Societal values have been diluted and bastardised. Respect for the elders and the basic tenets which hold the society and the people together have been thrown overboard. Corruption has been enthroned. enshired and has pervaded every fabric of our society. Allied with these, are the societal cankerworms of nepotism, tribalism (ethnicity) and god-fatherism (or motherism). These cancerous infections have accelerated the decay of the society.

Under this situation, merit is no longer a cherished factor that determines societal mobility.  As a result, a moron could find himself/herself at the apex of the societal ladder depending on whom he/she knows and his/her ethnic background. This situation is not helped by the quality of leadership Nigeria has produced and continues to produce since independence. The leaders have always placed personal aggrandizement above national and people interest.

These unfortunate happenings around us today, have called for concern and worry by parents as a corporate entity and as individuals in our various houses and work places in our country. The evils in our society today have made the agencies emanating from social upheavals perhaps the most dreaded amongst others. Agreed that there is the debilitating and biting effect from the economic and political errors which arose from the wobbling structures on which they stand and, in fact, which kill but slowly. However, it has been reasoned, without any iota of doubt that the social anarchy currently sweeping across the nation acts more instantly and more devastatingly.

Homes are been broken, children are being abandoned, armed robbery, drug addiction, prostitution, examinations malpractices, sexual harassment (Rape) ritual killings, kidnapping, homosexuality, and lesbianism is on the verge of taking absolute control of our daily lives and yet we all sit watching and most times doing nothing. Simply because, most times, those who ideally should take actions are culprits themselves, initiators and/or god fathers as the name implies.

CAUSES
What then, is the root cause of the social malady we are faced with? This is a question which may come diversely but if opinion polls are carried out, most probably that which point to the direction of the youths will be scored the highest. If the youths are cited as the culprits and bulldozers of our social structures, why have they become so?

Let us not forget the fact that here accusing fingers may be pointed at the elders from whose unholy actions the youths have copied. If this is so, why then do we need to worry more of the youths than the elders? There is a saying growing into popular acceptance “The youth shall grow” if the youths grow what of the elders? The elders automatically shall die! Or, will they not? If the elders die, the youths shall take their place hence the saying also goes “The youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow” what a vicious circle.

Can the elders of today just open their mouths in bewilderment or fold their arms doing nothing about the negative attitudes of our youth? Or, are we not all afraid of what the future may be if the youths of today are not corrected or purged of their social inequities which bring sleepless nights and uncertainty to the elders? Or could it also be that the elders have out of greed and selfishness sold their birth rights like Esau in the Bible (Gen. 25: 29-34) thus, making them accomplices to the wayward life lived by the youth. It is a known fact that today’s elders sleep with one eye closed and the other open so as to know from where and when the miscreants/Villains, may strike. In fact it is even more dangerous to be awake when they make their devilish call since an ordinary cough, which may annoy then, could be followed by a rain of bullets.

Today, it is no longer news to hear that banks are robbed, houses are burgled, cars are snatched, people are kidnapped, children are given birth to and thrown away, single ladies and even married women have become corporate prostitutes, lesbians and homosexuals. Quite a number of youths are addicted to hard drugs. Examinations malpractices are on the increase, ritual killing, and corruption and more worrisome is the news but sad dispensation of hired assassins and senseless killing of innocent persons under the guise of religiosity. Painfully though, all these vices are said to be perpetrated by the leaders of tomorrow the youths of today and ably sponsored by the elders (parents) who themselves are devil incarnates.

Do you talk of drug pushing or cultism in schools, colleges and universities or abortion emanating from the negative result of promiscuous lifestyle which has accelerated the transmission of HIV/AIDS like the wild harmattan fire? No wonder Nigeria is today rated as the 3rd largest country in the world after India and South Africa with an estimated 3Million people infected and about 1.5Million infected HIV orphaned children.

Agreed some of these young ones could be said to be exhibiting youthful exuberance, they are said to be unable to count the costs of their actions, they cannot foresee any danger however monstrous or injurious they are either to themselves, their families or the society at large. Some are even deceived and made to see just one side of the coin which instantly traps them. For instance, the youths that are pushing drugs, how did they get into it if not as fronts for the elders? Once they are able to scale through in their first, second and third attempts with the arm of the law not reaching them. And, although they might have made some millions of Naira from this damnable act, yet, because of greed, they continue until they become a disgrace to themselves, or their families and the nation. Sadly most parents do not have the courage to even ask their children how they have come about the money, cars, etc all because of “Poverty”.

This is the work of the devil the great deceiver and master pretender, who makes the youth roam the streets as mad persons once he is done with them; this confirms the simple fact that nothing the devil gives that is free and permanent. But, do the youths and even the greedy elders recognize this fact? Some parents are Christians during the day and cult members in the night. Thus, it is the membership of adult Christians in secret cults that makes the disbandment of cultism in schools difficult. The seed of the evil of today was sown about three decades ago when we had the oil boom.

The youth is always described as “a future leader”. A country whose population is aging without replacement with the young ones is bound to decay and run out of existence.

If this is not to happen what type of youth do we want to groom for such a take- over? Disciplined and well cultured youth is the catalyst for sound and vibrant population. It is pertinent therefore to ensure that in order to get responsible leaders of tomorrow we must prepare our youth of today for disciplined and worthwhile future life. A close observation of our society today depicts the picture of a spiritually and socially decaying one amongst the youth and even the elders. Though some of these youths and elders are in frantic search for spiritual and social support, the churches themselves are not helping matter as most of them have become Jesus Christ Plc.

SOME OF THE VICES

DRUG ADDICTION/ABUSE
The use or abuse of hard drugs amongst the youths is of serious concern; it reflects a search for some undefined goal aimed at by the youths. The consequences of drug taking are so alarming both for the individual and the society that the need for a solution becomes even more pressing today. Drug taking by the youths could be seen as a way of relieving them of some of the social pressures of modern life. Or part of the youth’s response to the frustrations of life. It could also be seen as an avenue to escape at least temporarily from the harsh realities of existence or false self confidence.

CHILD ABUSE
The rate of child abuse today is very alarming. It is no longer news to hear of how a 40yrs old man is caught sexually abusing a girl of 6yrs, or a 34yrs old man abusing a baby of 3yrs. Or how a house-help has been beaten and dehumanized by the madam. Some adults on the other hand are busy running brothels with children between the age of 10 and 15 or worst still how some house-helps are been emotionally, physically and sexually abused and sometimes impregnated by the madam’s husband and how quick they are to take her secretly to commit an abortion all in the name of protecting their image.

All these abuses are perpetuated by adults. More so the hard reality of the economic situation is forcing a lot of parents to turn their back while their children are either abused or matriculated into prostitution.

ALCOHOLISM
A habit formed when one is frustrated or alienated by the parents, wife, government or the society; it may also be as a result of being in the company of bad friends. The scripture tells us in proverbs 20:1 “Drinking too much makes you loud and foolish it is stupid to get drunk”. Alcoholism is a destroyer of peace, prosperity and happiness of the home. It produces various vice and wickedness, counteracting the efficacy of religious effort, moral purity, social happiness and the eternal good of mankind. It gives its victim temporary madness and indignity. Many fathers are known to have defiled their own daughters and raped their wives under the influence of alcohol.

SEXUAL MESS (Prostitution)
Safe sex makes medical sense, responsible sex makes moral sense, but what do we have today? Morals are fast abandoning us. One of the visible signs of this is the unrestricted glorification of sex. Everyone now demands for sex; teachers in secondary schools, lecturers in tertiary institutions, employers of labor, politicians, adolescents, youths, you name it. It is now on sale like never before on the streets and it’s only known master is money. There is simply no age restriction (money for hand back for ground). Shamefully, sexual harassment of our young girls has become the order of the day in all levels of our educational institutions especially in the universities. Reports show that some female students spend more years in the universities not because they are not brilliant enough but simply because they have refused to succumb to the indecent overtures of their lecturers. It is the same story when seeking for employment or even becoming an actress.

UNWANTED PREGNANCY AND ABORTION
These are two evils that work hand-in-hand. The unplanned or unwanted pregnancy leads people to commit abortion. The major cause of this is the complete breakdown of morality. Today teens are at the forefront of carrying out abortions. You will be shocked that a girl as young as 14yrs already knows the different types of pills that aid abortion or in their own language “flush out”. Frankly speaking parents cannot claim ignorance as some of them even take these teens/youths to clinics or pharmacy shops where such acts are carried out. For those involved in this shameful act, when you finally get married and cannot conceive do not blame God. Do not delude yourselves by thinking that someone is after you (your mother-in-law or that old woman in the village), when in actual sense, you are the architect of your own problem. Whether its one day of 3 weeks of 2 months, pregnancy is sacred and such be treated as such.

EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE
What is examination malpractice? Why do our youths get involved? What implications are such deviant behaviours to our society? What impact has it on our youths? Due to the prevalence of examination malpractice in our schools at all levels, it is now extremely difficult to provide a single definition that will be acceptable to all. No matter how we look at it, examination malpractice is an illegal means or an unacceptable method introduced into trying to pass an examination. It is a form of cheating by students during examination with the ultimate hope of performing better than their counterparts. In a nutshell, it is the violation of all rules and regulations guiding the conduct of an examination. The practice now cuts across our educational system.

At the primary level, little children do not see anything wrong in asking their classmates to provide solutions to their puzzling questions during examinations. It is a matter of do or die affair at the secondary school level when sitting for WASC, JAMB, etc.

It is a very serious case at the higher institution level as most of the students got admissions through crooked or illegal means. Despite the stiff penalties of 21-year jail term for those found guilty as contained in the Miscellaneous Offences Decree 20 promulgated in 1984, Nigerian youths, even with the support of their parents, teachers and some officials of the Ministry of Education still in their quest for high scores in examinations and marketable academic certificates, continue to employ various and sophisticated methods to cheat during examinations.

Types of Examination Malpractices
Giraffing, use of sheets and pieces of paper, copying answers on different parts of the body, coding lecture points into micro-computers, involving teachers/lecturers to leak questions, hiring other brighter or more advanced students to write the examinations, grouping of students together, special centres, sexual gratification, bribing of invigilators.

CULTISM
In religious parlance, the term “cult” broadly speaking refers to that devotion or honour afforded to a person or persons. This devotion is itself stratified into various categories differing both in their degrees of intensity and consequently, in the level of approbation given the cult by religious authority. Not surprising, this devotion can also, under certain circumstances, be manifested within sacred liturgy, likewise subject to religious regulation. In recent years, however, the society has regrettably co-opted the innocuous term “cult” and used it to describe a number of aberrant or bizarre organizations that impose inhuman restrictions on their members. This usage, not to mention the underlying practices, is alien to sound logical thoughts.

Secret cults or diabolical fraternities among youths have become a source of worry to all. Today, cultism is counterproductive and destructive. A mere mention of cult sends fear into the hearts if everyone. They have grown in numbers and worsened in the degree of their dastardly acts.

They exist in virtually all tertiary institutions across the country and have also penetrated many of our secondary schools. Quite a number of youths, among the presumed leaders of tomorrow, have had their educational pursuits and even their lives cut short due to their involvement in cult-related activities and yet many more are enrolling on a daily basis. Membership of any cult group or by whatever name they are called automatically makes the youths so hardened that they loss all human feelings or blood running through their veins. They feel or see nothing in taken a life.
 
FACTORS PLAYING VARIOUS ROLES
The Home
Every child is born into this world with cultural and family characteristics which are transmitted to him by his parents, and many at times ancestors. This is why in some cases the physical traits of these parents are seen in the child when he gets to adolescence. Naturally, children take to their parents in energy, ability, to learn and other original traits as they do in physical feature resemblance. Here they inherit tendencies rather than characteristics. The home furnishes the bedrock for the most impressionable year of life. The child is moulded by opinions, sentiments, moral, social and cultural standards which prevail where they eat and sleep.

Ideally, the child’s early life at home should have strong influence on the character formation which depends largely on the father and mother each having his or her own share in what makes a good home. Is this truly what obtains today?  Am not sure how many parents here seated know what their kids (youths) take for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. If the kid’s (youths) clothes are washed or when they go to bed. Talk less of what happens with their school lives? These days, the children grow up knowing their nannies/house-helps on the one hand and their teachers on the other.

Come to think of it, what really can the so-called nannies/house-helps impact on the youth? What a shame, a blind leading another blind.

No wonder when such youths come to church they end up exhibiting the same behaviours learned from their individual homes. They come with phones in hand and while the mass is going on they are busy chatting, pinging or making calls. They find it extremely difficult standing up for any adult to sit down. Any attempt at correcting them, follows with insults and abuses. Statistics have also shown that these so called nannies/house-helps are sometimes agents in corrupting the minds of the youths at tender age either by encouraging them to steal their parent’s money or exposing them to phonography and worst still witchcraft.

Parents have forgotten that the oldest university was not on India’s strand; from time beginning it has taught and still teaches free. Its learning mild to every child - the school of the mother’s knee.  More so, the oldest seminary, where theology was taught, where love for God and reverent prayer and the eternal thought were deeply impressed on youthful hearts in pure sincerity came to earth with Abel’s birth - the school of the mother’s knee.

Parents are expected to spend time with their children, to discuss with them, to listen to their talks their desires, their anxieties, etc. Provision of money and other material needs are important but such needs should not be chased at the expense of the children’s care especially since money cannot replace love, care and concern.

It is a known fact that parents encourage their children to cheat during examinations. Or putting it more succinctly, bribe teachers and invigilators to turn the other eye while their kids cheat. Some even go as far as registering their kids in special centers knowing full well that it is designated as such because of the immoral things that go on there.

How can such over pampered and spoilt brats be the future leaders we are yearning for? What do they have to offer if not what has been handed down to them by their parents. Thus, the saying that “A snake can only give birth to a snake” is true.
The adverse effects of their peers and the potentials to learn bad habits of course would be greatly reduced if parents were readily available. The Bible teaches of the adverse consequences on parents who would not take good care of their children.

  1. Eli and his sons Hophni and Phinehas (1Sam. 2:12-4:22)
  2. Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abidjan (1.Sam. 8:1-5)

Examples also abound, about children that are well trained, they include: David, Daniel, Timothy, and Jesus, etc. in the case of Timothy, the Bible has it that he was well trained in the way of the Lord by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. (2 Tim.1:5). Can this be said of you as a mother? God is going to ask parents especially mothers to give account of the lives of their children (Matt.18:6) ………. it will be better for anyone……..

The children that are well trained make a great difference in their localities during their life time. Jesus made the greatest difference in the whole world. Are your children making any difference in the world? Where they live? Where they school? 

THE COMMUNITY AND ENVIRONMENT
As the child grows older, begins to move out of his own home and begin to interact with other members of the community. This has another major influence on his life. The church and the school are parts of these agents of life formation.

The church is expected to build on the spiritual environment which the home has provided. Prayers and lessons which must have started at home will be formalized in the church through Sunday school and teaching by the anointed men of God. Sadly though, some of the so-called anointed men of God have themselves been consumed by the things of this world. Rather than focus on changing the child and nurturing him into being a well grounded disciple of Christ, they are more interested in advertising healings, selling of “holy items” and dispensing of prayers only to those who can pay for them.

They now introduce all sorts of offerings and such proceeds are used solely to further enrich themselves while the worshipers continue to wallow in poverty. The church whose primary assignment is to win souls back to Christ is now at the fore-front of losing souls and by extension driving the youths into the waiting hands of the wicked world.

The school provides, the formal education which enables him to grow and develop to the full realization of his latent gifts and acquire such knowledge as will enable him to free himself from the clutches of ignorance, hunger, poverty, disease and live a rich and full life. Through the school he learns to realize his limitations while he explores his potentials to the fullest. How noble this is. But what do we have today poorly furnished schools; unqualified teachers.

Considering the place of education in the socio-cultural life of the youth, the late chief Obafemi Awolowo defined education as “that process of physical and mental culture whereby a man’s personality is developed fully” while plato on the other hand puts it as “the positive means by which the ruler can shape human nature in the right direction to produce a harmonious state”. These two definitions point to the fact that the importance of education in the social life of the youth cannot be over emphasized.

Although we claim that youths of today are the leaders of our country tomorrow the required education which should equip them to assume this future leadership tomorrow are denied them today by the teachers/lecturers,  the parents and the government. It is therefore reasonable to say that any parent that encourages the child to cheat in school, equally cheated during his/her own time. After all it is said, one cannot give what he does not have.

It is shameful and sad that despite the huge resources available to government, government still finds it very difficult to educate all our youths even though our educational policy accords youth education a priority, this as we all know exists only on paper. 

Majority of the youths are either uneducated or at the best half educated simply because the type of education system designed for the youth of this generation lacks moral and religious orientation, thus rendering it unbalanced. Which is why a lot of our so-called graduates can barely spell their names correctly talk-less of developing proposals or even defending one prepared by someone else. Corporate and not-too- corporate organizations are therefore not keen at offering them employment as they will spend more resources and time training and re-training them eventually.

TEACHERS/LECTURERS
Not long ago, it used to be said that the reward of a teacher/lecturer is in heaven but not anymore, the teachers/lecturers have become wiser and more sophisticated, they have become just like every other person in the society and have perfected the act of survival by all means. Today, most teachers/lecturers have divided interest in the performances of their teaching duties. Syllabi are hardly covered before the time of examination, most of them have become external consultants sometimes even to the same Ministry of Education that gave them employment in the first place. Most are in the forefront of encouraging and promoting all forms of examination malpractice. These days, no teacher/lecturer is interested in taking attendance of students, even when they do, it is solely for personal gratification, an art used for extorting money from the students, without even caring to know how such monies are gotten by their victims.

To a large extent, some teachers/lecturers have become agents promoting and encouraging the spread of social vices by their actions. How possible is it for a student who does not study but only believes in settling his/her teacher/lecturer for unwarranted marks be able to pass any external examinations? It is therefore, not surprising that in the last five years, the average percentage of students that have passed call it NECO, WASC, or WAEC has not exceeded 30%.

And each year, JAMB has been forced to drop its cut-off mark due to poor performance. No wonder the system keeps producing mediocres. Tell me then, who is really deceiving Who?

SOLUTIONS

Guidance and Counseling:

There is need for every home, school and church to have a functional in-house counselor who will be available to counsel the youths not only on educational matters but on their general way of life.

Models:

Parents and elders must at all times show exemplary lifestyle. They should be seen as role models by their own children and other youths. They must create the necessary atmosphere for proper orientation, devote ample time to look into the affairs of their children while at the same time monitoring the friends they keep. They should also teach them sex education. In the face of the current hard economic situation, parents should reconsider their desire for many children. The number of children should depend on the ability of such a family to educate them to the fullest as the government is daily running away from the full responsibility of educating the youths. Few healthy, well nourished and educated children are better than having large number who will be house boys or domestic servants to their age mates in future.

Sound religious doctrine:

The churches must retrace their steps and begin to once more teach sound moral doctrines devoid of personal and selfish desires. The churches must not forget that they have been charged by Christ when Christ said “Whosoever welcomes the little ones welcomes me”. The churches must develop means by which she can tap and put to proper use the vibrant talents of the youth, because if she fails, she would only have succeeded in losing them to the devil and failed her master, Jesus Christ.

Recognizing cult groups:

Considering the fact that cult activities are gradually creeping into the homes, leaving the school environment, is a sure sign that all is not well. The time is now ripe for decisive steps to be taken in curbing the activities of this terrible “bush fire” that is threatening to consume our entire youth population. Government should therefore, take urgent steps in recognizing all campus associations by whatever name they are called. The university authorities should be empowered to register them, note their names, departments and levels of their members. By so doing, they cannot no longer hide with their activities. And the mystery surrounding them will be demystified.







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