By Ezinwanne Onwuka
The rate of crimes and social vices in Nigeria is skyrocketing. The heinous crimes being perpetrated in the country include kidnapping, armed robbery, rape, ritual killing, cyber fraud etc. Those who indulge in these crimes are mainly the youths.
It is surprising to note that among youths who commit various crimes on daily basis are graduates of our universities and polytechnics. They graduated with the hope of securing good jobs to take care of themselves and support their parents, guardians and all who were financially supportive to them while in school.
Years after graduation without job and without any hope of getting any support to either get a job or establish their own business, frustration sets in. Such frustration has led some youths into doing things they never bargained to do in life. They become the nightmare of the society. A popular saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.
The verity of this saying has proven to be indisputable over the years. When the mind is not positively busy and the pocket is dry, the hands can move to do horrible things in order to make ends meet. Sadly, this is the state of some Nigerian youths who the harsh economic situation of the country has pushed to a breaking point.
At such breaking point, however, some could still endure the pain and stoop to take up minor trading or hawking to avoid being caught committing crimes while some cannot but indulge in crime. Among the street traders, hawkers, barbers, bus drivers and conductors are graduates who had summoned courage to do menial jobs to keep mind and body together. Some of the youths in the rural areas migrate to the urban areas with the hope that life is easy in the city and when the reality dawns on them, they end up as miscreants and become terrors to the society as they cannot afford to go back with nothing. Some others have resorted to internet fraud.
Obviously, our leaders have failed us. Daily, we read in the papers or watch on the television our leaders making promises to attract foreign investors into our country, build gigantic factories so as to eradicate unemployment and poverty; but in the end, little or nothing is done – no single factory or industry is built, no foreign investor is seen. What is more, whenever there is a vacancy in any of the government ministries and/or parastatals, corruption, nepotism and ethnic bigotry come into play.
Our leaders talk about youth empowerment at every slightest provocation; at the end of the day, we realize it was all mere words and empty promises. By the way, why would they go out of their way to empower the youths knowing fully well that such an investment would be an eye-opener, making the youths realise that they are being oppressed and revolt against the system? Why would they empower the youths when they know fully well that it would lead to the unavailability of stooges and puppets, of thugs who will rig elections for them and fight against their political foes in their battle for power?
Our leaders frown at crime and urge the youths to desist from it. What they fail to realise, however, is that the actions of the followers mirror that of the leaders. A story goes thus: “In ancient China, King Chik’ang Tzu, notorious for his corruption and profligacy sought the advice of the famous Chinese philosopher, Confucius, on how to deal with thieves in his kingdom. The philosopher replied: if you, sir, did not covet things that don’t belong to you, they wouldn’t steal if you paid them to…” The response clearly depicts that the conducts of the masses are only a reflection of those of their leaders. The vices of the citizens are a reflection of the vices of those at the helm of affairs. As the rulers are corrupt, fraudulent and greedy, the society will likewise be corrupt, fraudulent and greedy. So, the frightening crime rate in Nigeria is only a symptom of the criminality of the Nigerian ruling class.
The campaign for a crime-free society resounds high, orchestrated by the elites, no doubt. It is because the Nigerian power elites failed in their role as leaders that they have taken to harassing and hectoring the people in the name of fighting crime, for what is really a failure of leadership. The fact remains, however, that the fight against crime in the society may not achieve its desired end if many youths with great talents, skills and potentials keep roaming the streets either jobless or underemployed.
Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp member serving in Cross River state. She writes unique and research-driven content about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected].