When Ahmed (surname withheld) lost his dad at a very tender age, the responsibility of taking care of him and his younger siblings fell on his mother who was employed as a teacher in a private school earning less than N20,000 monthly. It was a challenge to survive and by the time he gained admission into one of the polytechnics in the South West, Ahmed’s mind was not on education but how to make money and take care of his mother and siblings.
He soon drifted into Yahoo business (internet scam) and when he could not pass his OND examination, schooling became secondary. He dropped out of school to fully concentrate on the Yahoo business. Luck soon smiled at him as he ‘hit gold’ after duping foreign nationals using a fake Facebook account.
He became the breadwinner of the family and his mother, who knew that her son was into the Yahoo business cared less. She was happy that her son could be her springboard out of poverty.
In Delta State, three young boys, the eldest being 15 years left their parents for Edo State to seek greener pastures or ‘hustle’. The hustling, in their mind, was to learn how to become an expert in internet scam. With the support of their parents, the young boys soon found their way to Edo State, where they were seen wandering about. When they were accosted, they confessed that they were looking for where to learn Yahoo business. Kelly, the youngest, at 13, said that they left home with the active support of their parents as poverty had become a companion to them.
The nation is still in shock after police in Ogun State caught and paraded four young boys in Abeokuta, the state capital who had lured one of their girlfriends to a hide-out, strangled her, and cut off her head which they put in a local clay pot and roasted. A local vigilante saw the boys around 3 a.m in the act and quickly alerted the police. When they were arrested, they confessed that they killed the young lady, named Sofiat, and were in the process of making money rituals with her head.
The other two youngsters, 16 and 20 in age respectively, when asked how they came about the money-making ritual that required the human head, told the police that they learnt the procedure on Facebook.
In Nigeria now, the life of a human being is not worth much as you can be killed by young boys just to steal your mobile phone.
In Lugbe, Abuja, last year, a man was stabbed to death while jogging very close to his house. His offence was that he was too slow in releasing his phone when it was requested from him. It was already some minutes to six in the morning. The man died on the way to the hospital.
In Oshodi, Lagos State, young boys within the ages of 12 and 17 on a daily basis and in broad daylight, rob and maim passersby with impunity with Lagosians going about their businesses as if nothing happens around them. Awawa boys in Agege are the lords of the manor and just on Wednesday last week, they went on a rampage with another street gang. With guns and other dangerous weapons on display, many residents scampered for safety while those caught in the crossfire lost their valuable items to the hoodlums. There are black spots in Lagos that you dare not pass once it is 7 p.m.
Aside Lagos, there is hardly any street in the country now where you won’t see young boys and girls mingling, drinking, and smoking – many of them without any means of livelihood. As early as 10 a.m, they are together, drinking and gisting. They beg for money from commercial vehicle drivers, harass people for cash in the daytime, and in the evening, steal from, and maim innocent passersby.
In the south, many of the young boys are products of broken homes forced to the streets by poverty and peer pressure. Most of them are secondary school drop-outs while some actually completed their secondary school education but could not continue to tertiary institutions either due to poverty or failure in WAEC exam or JAMB. In the North, it is the same scenario except that they do not even have any form of education. Yet they want to ride the best cars and spend money on their girlfriends as if there is no tomorrow. In local parlance, they want to ‘blow’.
Ordinarily, the survival and nurturing of these kids, turned criminals, should fall on their parents but most of the parents are themselves looking for how to survive. Some of the kid criminals are products of broken homes. In Nigeria of yore, an entire community looked out for children and made sure that they turned out good for the betterment of society not anymore. You dare not discipline a child now without the consent of the parents. Some parents now organise thugs to beat up teachers that tried to discipline or correct their wards while in school. Most parents have dropped the ball when it comes to parenting and the effects are what we are all witnessing today. While rich couples don’t really have much time for their wards but provide all the needed cash which they believe should make the kids turn out good, the poor are caught in the daily survival race and really do not have time for the kids. In both instances, the kids are neglected and left to survive on their own.
In Lagos, some parents drop their babies who are as young as two years old in crèches as early as 6 a.m and won’t return to pick them until 6 p.m. By the time the young ones are five years old, they are dispatched to boarding school while the parents continue the rat race for money. It continues until they are out of secondary school. How can we then complain that many of today’s children lack the milk of human kindness when we have not shown real love and care towards them?
Parental neglect, the negative influence of films and movies children are exposed to early in life, the decadence in the society generally, the emergence of ‘baby mama’ syndrome and young girls who are victims of rape and abuse – and in the process turned to emergency mothers – have all contributed to raising children whose hearts have become hardened and devoid of any milk of human kindness in their hearts. They have no sympathy for anybody, life means nothing to them again. In their head, nobody loves them – not the government, parents nor the society and are hence, ready to take out their frustrations on the same society that failed them.
Children we din’t cater for years back are now fully involved in Yahoo- yahoo business, Yahoo plus – which adds rituals to the package, and the outright use of human body parts for money-making rituals.
However, the situation can still be salvaged if we are serious as a nation in tackling the menace. The federal and state governments must wake up to their responsibilities by ensuring that the right policies are in place that could lead to the creation of jobs for its teeming youths and skills for the vulnerable members of society without exception.
The provision of regular power supply must be seen as a priority so that artisans such as tailors, welders, etc are provided with the enabling environment to work and make a decent living while youth unemployment is tackled vigorously.
With over 200 million Nigerians and more than two-thirds of them living in poverty, it is time we got serious about having a population policy that would limit the number of children couples can have. Thank God President Muhammadu Buhari seems to be thinking along that line as he canvassed last Thursday for the use of contraceptives as a means of controlling our bloated population.
The National Orientation Agency, if it still exists, must be up and doing to imbibe in Nigerians, the need to shun the get-rich-quick syndrome that has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society. The National Film and Video Censors Board should wake up to its responsibilities by banning films that have ritual content and violence. Our religious leaders also have a job at hand as they must include good moral upbringing in their preaching while prosperity preaching should be curtailed or reduced to the barest minimum. The rich in our midst should look out for the poor and see how they can be of help to them, because we are all in this together.
The craze to display ill-gotten wealth should stop forthwith. Free and compulsory education up till secondary school level should be embedded in our constitution while university and technical skills education should be subsidised for all. Unexplained wealth should be probed and those found wanting should face the law.
A society where youths, who should be under the watchful eyes of their parents and guardians are already involved in the rat race for money is a society on a downward slide to perdition. It is time we all have a rethink, search our conscience, and retrace our steps. It is not too late. We can start by creating time for our children so that they will turn out good for us, themselves, and society at large.
See you next week.