Urgent need for a clean-up in Nigeria
If there’s anything deserving an urgent action in Nigeria, it’s no other than the cleaning up of the whole land of indecent youth, cultists, rampaging bandits, hoodlums, miscreants and vagabonds of various and varying degrees and dimension. Gradually, Nigeria is sliding towards a dangerous precipice and building a society of completely ungovernable people. Hard drugs and drug addicts now litter the whole landscape in an unimaginable, horrifying and totally worrying manner. Failure of successive government to nip the dangerous trend in the bud many years ago has now resulted in existence of so many cult groups perpetrating all manner of havoc leading to loss of innocent lives.
In the past, cultism and cult activities were restricted to the university campuses. Today, the scourge has spread to elementary and secondary schools. Indeed, with the large number of youth involved in cultism most of who are also hooked on drugs, there is no doubt that even the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency is completely incapacitated to cope with the situation considering inadequate personnel having to deal with an outrageous number of criminals. Besides, the fact that no concrete plan has been put in place to handle the issue is not helping matters either under such dicey atmosphere that pervades everywhere; everyone goes about with bated breath in fear of the unknown. This also partly explains why almost all those in the entertainment industry are relocating outside the country since they are quite aware that any show they put up anywhere will always be disrupted by rough boys and girls. Such ugly sceptre spreading like bush fire across the length and breadth of the country portends a grave danger for the nation’s future. Indeed unless an urgent clean up is commenced immediately aimed at restoring decency and sanity to the society, the nation nay perhaps be sitting on a time bomb.
Ordinarily, Nigerians are law abiding citizens always ready to dance to the tune of any government of the day. Whether the brazen and open display of utter lawlessness which is now commonplace is borne out of laxity of law enforcement agencies whose personnel seem no longer alert to their responsibility but are more interested in extortion, or the fact that just because the nation is under a democratic dispensation everyone is allowed to run amuck on the streets is difficult to say. Many years back, such nasty attitudes as witnessed everywhere today were unheard of and the fear of detention was by then the beginning of wisdom. How Nigeria got into the current quagmire in which the youth in their general comportment show neither regard nor respect for laid down laws and constituted authority is difficult to explain. The very sad aspect of it all is that the bush fire of general unrest has spread to public schools as most students are now not different from common touts and the earlier the government wakes up to the ugly realities surrounding the entire nation, the better.
It’s never too late for the nation to stop the sad trend and chart a new course forward. All that is required is first of all for the government to accept the enormity of the problem, and then develop the zeal to tackle it head on. To start with, there may be need to regulate properly or completely outlaw the National Union of Road Transport Workers. This is because more than 90 per cent of their members are drug addicts, thugs and hooligans, and most of the unruly behaviours being witnessed in the youth are copied directly from them. These touts go on rampage every time causing mayhem and getting away with it because of the huge ill-gotten wealth at their disposal. Indeed, the fact that those are their top echelon are given much recognition by the political class sends a wrong signal to the youth and explains why wild attitudes continue to gain wider grounds.
To set at a correctional path, there will be need to build large reformation centres in all the six geopolitical zones where all those who fall under the category being discussed will be taken and trained for a period of not less than six months in decent attitudes and good citizenship. Parents whose children are found culpable should be quizzed and made to foot the bill of their ward’s training. Such measure will force parents to be more alert to their responsibility towards their children and wards. The programme should be arranged in such a way that those caught should be taken thousands of miles away from where their family members can have easy access and part of their training should include being put on large farmlands to help boost the nation’s food production.
Such arrangement can also be used to decongest the overcrowded prisons. Youth with minor cases can be referred there for reorientation. With such measure in place the NDLEA, the police especially the SARS and other related agencies can then swing into action combing the entire landscape in the clean up exercise. If and when such action is carried out and pursued vigorously with the seriousness it deserves, it will only take a little while for sanity to return to Nigeria.
• Oyewusi, an educationist, wrote from Lagos.
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