‘’The downfall of the family unit in society is one of the most tragic things facing mankind. ‘’The destruction of the family unit all begins with the destruction of what starts a family – the marriage of a man and a woman.’’ Why? This is evidently because the institution of marriage and family is generally not held in the esteem that God meant for it to be!’’ — Jonathan L. Perz (2008)
OUR PROGENITORS: Our progenitors nurtured high moral standards that they developed and passed on to their children and wards. They brought us up with the hope that those salient values and virtues imparted to us would be passed on to even generations yet unborn. It is true that Government has a key role to play with regard to moderating the polity. But it is not only government that should be held responsible. Many parents are irresponsible and cannot manage their homes. There is also the problem of foreign influence. For major events happening in Africa, many people prefer to rely on foreign news organizations as the credible sources.
A Nigerian expert in Mass Communications, late Prof. Alfred Opubor argued that: “Africa has been the victim of other peoples’ information domination. ‘’Historically, Africa’s image in the world has been largely managed by non-African interests and institutions. ‘’Those who had the means to create powerful channels to disseminate information widely, had pre-empted the definition of what was good, what was right, what was important, and what was civilized. In general, even the achievements in science, in art and culture that were African in origin or inspiration, were often attributed to others, because their provenance was obscured in Africa’s inability to proclaim its stake. ‘’Through literature, visual arts, the mass media, and popular culture, the agenda of world discourse has been hijacked by other cultures and peoples for a long time.’’
EFFECTS OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION: It is a matter for regrets that the very rich cultural heritage of the black race has over the years been eroded by foreign norms and cultures through the invasion of our airwaves by the foreign media which transmit programmes that negate our values and customs. The influence of Western media on the Third World is dangerously making our young people lose their virtues, values and societal norms; only to be replaced by the cultural scenes they view on incursive programmes shown on foreign media. The impact on youth in Africa by foreign media values is evident in dress styles with implications of changes in behaviour, morals and aspirations. Even adults are getting caught in the web of civilization. The family is a microcosm of an organized setting. Family units are responsible for the advancements of all societies.
THE FIRST CREATION: The family was God’s first institution. Over the years, modernization has drawn family values and virtues towards precipice. It is feared that if the situation persists with the reckless pattern of its rapid desecration of values and virtues, the whole world may not too long from now witness crises in unimaginable proportions. The Declaration by God that instituted marriage relationship designed the family unit. According to Jonathan L. Perz (2008) the downfall of the family unit in society is one of the most tragic things facing mankind. ‘’The destruction of the family unit all begins with the destruction of what starts a family – the marriage of a man and a woman.’’ Why? ‘’This is evidently because the institution of marriage and family is generally not held in the esteem that God meant for it to be!’’
PROACTIVE & REACTIVE STRATEGIES: There is hardly any observer who is not worried about the social environment and negativities on the upbringing of our youth; and corrosive influence on adults too, these days of Globalization, which makes social and criminal vices now borderless. In large measures, the society shares the faults of the collective rot in the social systems. Parents no longer pay the desirable/adequate attention to the development of the child. Organizations that exist to build and shape character/personalities appear to be helpless; and are, in many cases, involved in messy situations and are guilty of dereliction of duty. In truth, the task of monitoring youth and societal development is the responsibility of all, including organizations and people charged with parental responsibilities. Government alone cannot salvage the situation. Available statistics reveal that 61 per cent of websites on the Internet are pornographic sites, which make them easily available to anyone.
MORAL RECTITUDE – PREVENTIVE ABOVE REACTIVE STRATEGIES: The foregoing shows conclusively that there is widespread moral decadence that has eaten into the very fabrics of the society. All over the world, Governments, parents and organizations with parental responsibilities have not lived up to expectations. The global community is in bad shape. The solutions warrant and command greater attention if humanity is not to be wiped out as a result of these dangerous developments. We must return to the basics to reform our society. It is to be noted that: The impact of indecent conducts on youths has implications of changes in behaviour, morals and aspirations are worrisome. Unless adequate attention is accorded the need to halt or curtail indecent acts, the global community may soon witness an unmanageable upsurge in social vices, as well as the erosion of our common virtues handed down by our progenitors.
COUPLES AS THE MOST CRITICAL FACTOR: Couples are the most important factor in the drive to arresting all condemnable practices. A United States based preacher and writer, Jonathan L. Perz attributes the erosion of values to: selfishness, which he says is ‘’the biggest destroyer of marriages. ‘’In turn, the family unit has for the most part come to mean nothing. Children in turmoil and confusion are the consequences of such thinking. ‘’They get wrapped up in a vicious cycle of broken homes that only they can choose to break. That is, the average child of a divorced couple will inevitably divorce unless they consciously and determinably, choose not to fall prey to the same thing their parents did.’’ This is shameful! God desired these things for the family. ‘’Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.’’
RAISING A CHILD — EVERYBODY COUNTS: The 42nd President of the United States, President William Jefferson Clinton, in his treatise at the first Nelson Mandela Foundation Lecture in 2003 submitted that: “It takes a village to raise a child. ‘’ If we live in a global village we are all responsible for every child. If we truly understand the nature of the modern world then America and Europe and Australia and Asia and Africa are in the same village. And therefore, we are all part of our common endeavour to raise every child in the world. We have to be bound by simple strong values across every religious tradition. ‘’Everybody counts, everybody deserves a chance, everybody has a responsible role to play, we all do better when we work together. ‘’Everybody counts, everybody deserves a chance, everybody has a responsible role to play, we all do better when we work together.’’ Nobody could successfully fault the need for mentoring and reshaping the society through copying good examples provided by ROLE MODELS that are accommodated by all strata of our society.
CAPACITY BUILDING FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE: Our records are replete with stories of successful people who emerged by dint of hard work, prayers and a bit of luck. We have high flyers who have become billionaires in their 30s, without engaging in sharp practices. A number of our young ones have made it in their late 20s by ingenuity and creativity. Nigeria is blessed with human and material resources that could make the nation. We must show our younger ones the right way so they don’t get lost. Competent women abound in Women in Business and Management (WIMBIZ) a non-profit having Funmi Roberts, a tireless legal practitioner as Chairman, Board of Trustees. Another organization with similar objectives, Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR) founded by Amina Oyagbola, a business mentor is inspiring and empowering younger women in careers to help unleash their potentials by navigating careers pathways and nurture dreams.
WIMBIZ has produced at a least a Federal Minister and a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. WISCAR too could boast of notable professionals who have made their marks. Nigeria currently has four serving elected female deputy governors. One is tempted to say that WIMBIZ and WISCAR accommodate most of the highly intelligent female boardroom players in Nigeria today. These two bodies have the capacities to collaborate with governments to mentor and train young professionals.
WOMEN AS PIVOTS & GOOD TOOLS CURTAILING INSECURITY: It is believed that women, as pivots of family units are better placed to lead the campaign against social vices and security breaches; and how to arrest the trend. The evolving era of joint partnerships in the management of homes and businesses by spouses is worthy of being celebrated. Couples, who by dint of hard work, and mutual encouragement have reached the pinnacles of their careers, jointly building their homes and businesses; as well and men who have exceptionally supported their wives and female children to excel are being celebrated through publications on family units that could promote feelings of empathy The stories of the lives and struggles of personalities; being featured on our channels are worth reading and praiseworthy, and are accordingly worthy of emulation.
SILENT HEROINES & MENTORS: For instance First Bank’s chairperson, Ibukun Awosika, with a charming delivery, held governors-elect (as they were then addressed) spellbound in Abuja recently, when she delivered a paper at a seminar organized for the governors-elect in Abuja. Another personality and silent heroine around is retd Rear Admiral Itunu Hotonu, the first female regular combatant Officer in Africa, who in her active service years in the Nigerian Navy distinguished herself on account of her high buoyancy, courage, and ability to ride on storms alongside her male counterparts in the military. Itunu Hotonu enlisted at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna in 1985. She was the first woman to attend the academy and graduated as best overall student in her class of 73 cadets. Hotonu is an architect like her husband. Her success story as a highly resilient and dedicated professional and her impressive credentials is worth reading.
In 2012, she was advanced to the position of Rear Admiral, and emerged the first woman in West Africa to attain this position. A brilliant mind, Hotonu attended the National Defence College, Abuja, where she emerged the best overall graduating student and won the Commander-in-Chief’s prize; as well as the Commandant’s prize for the best research. Hotonu was the first female officer to serve as an instructor at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji. In 2012 she spent time in Liberia mentoring women in that country’s armed forces. She probably could have successfully headed the Nigerian Navy, if it was her turn by promotion/appointment; and the Commander-in-Chief so wished.
IMPORTANCE OF MENTORING: Without any doubt, WIMBIZ deserves accolades and encouragement for paying particular attention to mentoring young professional women, and has proven to be a foremost breeding ground for present and future female leaders. Same applies to Amina Oyagbola’s WISCAR, a non-profit organization that focuses on empowering and developing professional women in Africa. This is one useful initiative that could be copied by all other similar bodies, including the federal government through the Office of the Specail Adviser to Mr. President of Social Investments. The success stories of these non-profits need to be told; and possibly copied by associations managed by successful men. These professional women show the world that they are just as intelligent as any other people on earth. Perhaps other organizations with related mandates could be encouraged to study this valuable programme; that is guiding young professionals to excel. Should the Office of the Special Adviser to Mr. President be positively inclined, it could go into working arrangements with these associations to promote issues dealing with the future of young professionals being mentored by these female bodies.
From this point of view, and the advancements recorded by women in governance (political and corporate) in the last two decades, one could safely conclude that it might not be too long for a woman to emerge Madam President of the Federal Republic. Liberia made history by choosing the first elected female President in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; now 81 years old, to lead the country. She succeeded in stamping her name in the positive pages of history. Johnson Sirleaf won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize as a champion for women’s rights. With our current level of development and enlightenment, those Statues and International Regulations on Women might not really work significantly as desired. The consolation, however, might be that the journey has at least commenced, and women could now assert themselves as professionally equal to men in all careers. But not at home where the husband is the undisputed captain.
EXCERPT FROM FOREWORD – WOMEN AS HIDDEN RESOURCES: A 2012 Report commissioned by the British government noted that Nigerian women are the nation’s hidden resources. Interestingly, the Foreword to the valuable document was co-signed by then Hon. Minister of Finance and Chair of Panel, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (as he then was) then Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, and co-Chair of Panel. They believed that: ‘’It will amplify the issues, hasten development and serve as a resource for a wide and non-specialist readership. The foreword acknowledges the contributions and efforts of British Council/DFID personnel in Nigeria, stating that the study would not have been possible without the knowledge, skill and application of a core team working under an intensive schedule.’’
‘’THE CHANGE CHAMPIONS’’: The Foreword continues: The impact of this study will not be achieved without the support of a high level panel of change champions who encourage and exhort the state and sections of society to address the inequalities and barriers that face adolescent girls and women in Nigeria. Their support has been crucial and we are grateful to them and feel privileged to be part of that team. The composition of the team is as follows:
The Foreword under reference is concluded this way: We encourage all readers to broadcast this study to their peers and other interested parties. The challenges and opportunities discussed in this report call for concerted and sustained action. We must each ask ourselves: what are we doing to provide opportunities for women? Doing so goes beyond gender justice. We will be saving ourselves and investing in our future. Foreword was signed by Ngozi Okonjo–Iweala, then Hon. Minister of Finance and Chair of Panel, and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; then Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, and co-Chair of Panel.
THE NEW WORLD INFORMATION ORDER – SENSITIZING OUR SOCIETY FOR DEVELOPMENT: Our media have a lot of work to do to protect our cherished values. Late Prof. Alfred Opubor, reemphasized an urgent need for the reconfiguration of the world Information and Communication Order. In his Paper presented at the 10th Anniversary Lecture of African Independent Television, Abuja, the UNESCO Expert argued that: ’’This trans-national information monopoly in developing countries manipulate hundreds of millions of people in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America and in the Caribbean. ‘’As at Year 2006, The United Press, the Associated Press, the Agence France Press, and Reuters between them monopolize the information flow to and from the developing countries’’
According to Alfred Opubor, ‘’these different information agencies send out 33.9 million words everyday and they employ over 2,100 foreign correspondents in 304 offices in almost every country in the world. ‘’The 20 largest Latin American daily newspapers are completely controlled by these four agencies with 79% of all their news coming only from these sources. Naturally, to this situation one of major struggle that countries like ours (Nigeria) have to join in fighting is the struggle to establish a New International Information Order. We have to see this struggle for the New International Information Order as being very much linked up with the other struggle – the struggle or our New International Economic Order which our country has been involved in fighting.’’
OUR INITIATIVE — COUPLES & PARENTS OF VIRTUES & VALUES ACTIVITY — A CONTINUOUS PROGRAMME (ALL YEAR ROUND) – WHAT WE AIM TO ACHIEVE: This campaign is distinctly unique. Its objectives are not about choosing the best personalities in any segment of the society. It is about utilizing excellent and commendable conducts to encourage others to pattern their lives after those of highly successful personalities. Couples have the greatest role to play in ensuring that the concept of family values is promoted and utilized to the advantage of family units. ROLE MODEL COUPLES & PARENTS could further assist in shaping the tomorrow of our younger ones; and spur the younger generation on to achieving higher standards of morals, virtue, integrity, uprightness and decency.
Nigeria’s Dry Bones Will Surely Live Again!