By Ismail Rotimi Lawal
With the recent fetish and scary discoveries Nigeria police have made from young Nigerians, it’s now more glaring than ever that a huge number of Nigerians lack attitude and moral resources needed and important to building a nation that we can all proudly call our home.
There is huge shortage of moral values among Nigerians which is now fueling the unrest and fear in some communities. The trends of unaccounted wealth of young people are also frightening, worrisome and highly disturbing. The wealth a father could not acquire in his lifetime is being acquired by his son within a short period but with no verifiable source of income.
The surge in half-naked dress, miniskirts, piercing of different parts of the body, changes in hair colour is rampant and being accepted as a way of life in hitherto dignified and culturally-inclined communities in Nigeria. Cross-dressing is becoming a new norm, a notable means of identification which is being accepted, gratified and rewarded in our country.
Quite a number of people are forgetting their own identities and modifying their physical appearances in the name of self-expression in a modernized society. Sadly, a larger part of these people are young Nigerians who are expected to be the inhibitors of our African heritages, cultures and moral sanity.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 83 million Nigerians live in poverty. However, most of these people are young adults who are having access to the latest technology and highly exposed to trends with a tap on their various gadgets. It is extremely disturbing to know that many of these younger populations are unemployed, yet vibrant youths with little or no means of living.
No doubt, today, we live in a materialistic world where there are always competitions among people and more concerns by the wealthy people to be on the face of Real Time, Bloomberg or Forbes magazines. The breaking news on the emergence of billionaire has become a hot topic on media spaces. This show of wealth is also being replicated in our localities, as young people are going to an extreme to acquire wealth.
Unfortunately, it appears like no one is exempted from this moral degradation, as Muslim youths have also been found engaging in extreme misconduct and, even, masterminding many crimes. The gruesome death of Sofiat Kehinde, a 20-year old girl who was killed by two Muslim students of an Islamic school at Abeokuta is a testament to the moral decadence of Muslim youths in Nigeria. Similarly, one Afeez Olalere, a 32-year old man who confessed to have connived with his mother to kill their brother for money ritual is still fresh in our minds. In fact, while writing this article, I got a message on a WhatsApp group that a Muslim boy had killed his mother who used burqa in Iwo, Osun State.
More importantly, these events have become a very disturbing issue to many adults, as it is being feared that anyone could be apprehended and be used for money rituals even at the hands of their loved ones. To wit: if Afeez could connive with his mother to kill his brother, who could guarantee that one’s own child can’t do such? Wariz Oladehinde (17 years), Abdul Gafar Lukman (19 years) and Mustakeem Balogun (20 years) were students of an Islamic School. If they could have the mindset of killing an innocent girl despite their religious teachings, how many parents can confidently claim his/her child can’t do such in this materialistic society? Nobody seems left out or safe from this corrupt society. As a matter of urgency, everyone has to be on guard, be security conscious and be responsible for their own safety.
From the foregoing, it is clear that moral decadence has reached its apex in our society, even as leaders, teachers, parents and guardians and many developing partners are battling to curb its consequences on lives, national development and peace.
Of course, it is compelling that all these heartbreaking and disturbing events require a national outcry and solid approach and templates to reform the Nigerian youth with the vision and desire to changing the status quo.
For these reasons, to restore the value system in our society, we need to do comprehensive diagnosis of our societies and individuals to discover the causes of this epidemic behaviour of Nigerian youth. In light of this, this piece will diagnose the aforementioned social maladies in the following analysis.
There is a Yoruba adage that says: “Ile l’ati n k’eso r’ode.” This means that, “charity begins at home.” Sadly, however, we have, today, a large number of young adults who had poor upbringings, with little or no foundational moral training that every child is supposed to learn at the early stage of his life.
It is even more sadly that many parents also lack good characters to model a child. An elephant cannot birth a goat. The strange behaviours of some youths in display today are most times the reflection of their parents’. Some young people are raised in toxic homes. At an early age, they had experienced a series of abuses, namely, sexual harassment, physical abuse and emotional trauma, among others. Such children had grown up to become very toxic and less humane. Bad parenting is a leading factor in moral decline being displayed on the streets, television and other media spaces.
Emphasis on Materialism
As the world is advancing in all spheres of life, so are youths’ interests in modern technology, fashion and arts. There is a higher drive from young people to catch up at space which the world is growing. This desire is, thus, pushing a lot into crimes with the intent to attaining wealth at all cost.
We are in a society where wealth is being glorified and worshipped. Youths are acquiring unexplained wealth without no confrontations from their parents. Integrity and hard work are losing relevance each passing day. Many young people are absconding handiworks or hard labour to meet their needs. All other shortcuts and means of making money without struggle are being employed, pushing them into ritual killing, cybercrime, kidnapping and robbery, among others.
This quest for material objects, comfort and power has preoccupied many young minds without any interest in integrity, intellectual thinking and upholding core moral values.
There are also wide injustices and inequalities between the rich and the poor which are affecting the national distribution of wealth and power. All of these have augmented the urge and hunger for wealth and affluence on the part of those on the lower ladders of the society, in the desire to protecting their dignity and also making their voices counted.
The Effects of Internet and Social Media
Just as this transformation has brought innovation to the world, it has also come with costly consequences. According to findings, there is a positive growth in internet access as 108 million Nigerians now have access to the internet. However, in many cases, the effect of the opportunity to access the internet and social media has brought about a negative influence on many youths.
A scary number of 13.9 million Nigerian youths are unemployed according to the National Bureau of Statistics. A lot of these jobless youths are all over the internet wasting their precious time on social media feeds which are highly addictive.
The social media feeds are always fed with classy and beautiful lifestyles. Upon seeing the flawless and fascinating display of lifestyles on social media, many youths would often question the essence of their existence and achievement in contrast with what is displayed on the screens of their smartphones. As a result, many have developed depression due to their frustrations and failures, while others have resorted to engaging in crimes so that they can also be able to meet up with their counterparts on social media.
There are always competitions on the internet and social media to outdo one another. The reach of these unhelpful contents on media spaces is limitless and almost uncontrollable. The exposure of unaccountable wealth and the freedom everyone has on the internet is extremely affecting the core values of our society. Seamlessly, anyone can promote hate speeches and misguided contents and target idle young people to influence and even recruit them into extreme groups on the internet.
The teenagers arrested for killing Sofiat confessed that they received the money ritual recipe from a Facebook group. This is how detrimental many of these social media contents are on our youths. Similar to this, youths have unrestricted access to highly obscene contents, and multi-billion dollar obscene websites continue to generate enormous revenues each year as their user bases grow.
The effect of peer pressure cannot be overemphasized. Peer pressure is a real issue that is compromising the attitude of some youths. There are numerous pressures youth face today – gambling, cybercrime, consumption of hard substances, smoking, adultery, cultism and robbery, among others.
In any environment where there are social interactions, one could find an individual or a group which is determined to influence more people into its circle with the goal of strengthening its reach and power.
Peer pressure is more rampant in the school environment, as a lot of young people gain more independence and do no longer have the protection of their parents or guardians. Resisting peer pressure can also become dangerous, and lead to emotional abuse, trauma and could attract extreme punishment and, at times, death.
It can be very tempting when people of the same age are living above their stipends. This can attract a child whose parents struggle to provide his upkeep to also drop his/her value and follow the crowd so that he can also ‘feel among’.
Poverty is one of the leading factors for the menace in many growing communities. Many Nigerians are unemployed or underemployed. The rising cost of goods is also a big challenge to many families, making people to experience hunger. As the old saying goes, ‘a hungry man is an angry man, and it’s very easy to lure a free hand into crime’.
The cost of food is on the rise in the country due to insecurities, bad roads, cost of transportations and storage of good. All of these are big concerns and contributing factor to the menace overwhelming the country.
Most of our youth who engage in cybercrime, terrorism, drug abuse, kidnapping and robbery are from low income communities.
Moral Laxity in Schools and Communities
One of the core purposes of education is teaching the children good attitude. However, many of our schools have drifted away from this important objective. In the course of civilization and the aggressive approach of freedom, many teachers and members of the society are being constrained with the way they address children.
A lot of schools are designed for money making. Thus, teachers are being very careful in the way they address pupils, else, they risk losing their job and students to another schools. The disciplinary measures in schools are fading away by the days, as schools now leave moral training to parents only as their responsibility. The same role that many parents don’t pay attention to, since they are not always available for their children.
A Yoruba adage says: “Oju kan lo n bimo, igba oju lo n wo.” Meaning that “A man gives birth but the society nurtures it”.
This is a cultural practice through which many adults were trained and has proven beneficial and effective for moral building of children. In today’s society, however, a parent could go on a physical fight or slandering his neighbours for verbally correcting his/her child for a wrong behaviour. Parents of today are over-pampering their folks with a false belief of showing the love they didn’t receive while growing up. Unfortunately, they are raising a potential disrespectful adult.
Fall in Religious Training
Religion is an important aspect of our society and Nigerians are known to be religious people. However, only few Nigerians are raised with religious values. Religion is known to be a custodian of good moral values, but attention is no longer paid towards religious training.
Many people believe that religious training is boring and uninteresting. According to them, its benefit are not profit making, making it unappealing to grow adult. Parents no longer enroll their kids in after-school semi-formal Qur’anic education for Muslim kids and fellowships for Christian kids. All attention is geared towards secular education which does not teach moral habits.