By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Peter Okutu, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chinedu Adonu, Chinonso Alozie, Ikechukwu Odu, Steve Oko & Emmanuel Iheaka
IT is very disturbing, indeed shameful and saddening, the ugly things Nigerian youths indulge in these days in their desperate pursuit of riches.
There is a worrisome upsurge to get rich quick among the Nigerian youths, those of Igbo inclusive. In their bid to meet up with their get-rich-quick syndrome, the youths do the unimaginable. They indulged in all manner of evils, including ritual killings, sacrificing human beings, and in some cases, their family members. There are uncountable various terrifying videos, eyesores, circulating on daily basis, on social media, showing very young men committing atrocities in their quest to make money.
Embarrassingly, in most of the videos, the young men and their moneymakers speak Igbo language. This has got Igbo people worried. This is definitely not in the character of Ndigbo. Ndigbo are known to be serious hard workers. Therefore, these youths in no way at all, represent Igbo who are known for their creativity, hard work, patience, and perseverance.
This worrisome concern which is a very serious threat to society has caught the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari who vehemently condemned it. President Muhammadu Buhari, through his media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, condemned the rise in ritual killings. The President frowned at the incidents of ritual killings, hate crimes, and killing of law enforcement officers, saying these were aberrations.
Things have indeed gone wrong. And the question on the lips of every responsible Nigerian is how we got here; who is to blame, parents, peer groups, or the society in general. What has actually gone wrong?
In the opinion of a respected commentator on national issues, Chukwuma E. Okenwa, the get-rich-quick syndrome is largely an issue of peer pressure. According to him, the unemployed youths are largely bamboozled into taking the risky path of ill-gotten wealth, by those who have arrived.
“How do we explain that a young man could travel to a country and in 3 months he returns back to the country and is able to afford an estate and a luxury vehicle?”, Okenwa rhetorically wondered.
He went on: “Other cases abound where young persons within the country who are into internet fraud are able to amass so great a wealth that they can show off in the nightclubs by popping wines that run into millions of Naira.
“Sadly, the society, that ought to query the source of this wealth end up celebrating this gesture. This is a sort of an incentive for more young persons who want to be celebrated in our society to pursue wealth at all expenses, more of get rich by all means or die trying. Howbeit, is it possible to have a collapse in social values without mentioning the family which is the most powerful agent of socialization? Certainly not!
“We live in a time where a child can afford to buy houses or cars for the parents without the moral stand of those parents to query the sudden show of stupendous wealth.
“It follows therefore that whatever value is accepted in a family whether deliberately or by sheer negligence has a great impact on the kids.
“Some parents even compare their children with others, mounting unnecessary pressures on them to make money at all costs.
“Sadly, the traditional and religious institutions that ought to insist on the values of integrity and good reputation are often the first to take the lead in recognition of such persons.
“Indeed things have fallen apart and it does appear the centre cannot hold. If we must get it right, there must be a conscientious effort to reorient our youths. There will be a need to revisit family values and for the government to enhance the fight against illicit funds.
“On the part of the youths, they are encouraged to embrace hard work and honesty as the hallmark for sustainable wealth and peace of mind”, Okenwa submitted.
A retired school principal in Anambra State and a politician, Chief Francis Nwadiuba blamed the current happenings on the failure of the government to provide employment to the youths.
Speaking with South East Voice, Nwadiuba said most of the youths who indulge in ritual killings to make quick money do so out of frustration.
He said: “Most of the youths involved in this get-rich-quick syndrome are graduates who, after staying at home for years without securing employment, look for anything to do to get money.
“Before, they used to scam people, especially foreigners, but they have graduated to the level of Yahoo business because some of them feel that 419 no longer pays well. If governments at all levels have performed their duties to the society the way they ought to, most of those involved in unconventional means of making money would be in the offices working for the progress of the nation.
“Parents are also part of the problem because many of us do not question the source of wealth of our children who we know are not employed, but drive flashy cars and living in hotels”.
A parent, Mr. Christopher Obi also narrated how his son was almost lured into the Yahoo business by his neighbour’s son, adding that it was God’s intervention that saved him.
He said: “My son graduated from the university four years ago and after his NYSC, he tried desperately to secure a job without success. Suddenly a neighbour’s son, who left Awka after secondary school, came back with a car and we all know that he has no genuine business anywhere.
“He became too close to my son and they started going out together until rumour started making the rounds that the police were looking for him. It was then that my son realized that he might also be in trouble if he did not stop moving around with that my neighbour’s son”.
On his part, the chairman, Civil Liberties Organization, Aba Unit, Prof. Charles Chinekezi, advocated for parents to inculcate moral and cultural values in their children to stem the tide of love for money and get rich quick syndrome among young people in the society. He stated that society has steadily witnessed a total collapse of good parenting and moral, cultural, and religious values and conscience.
According to him, the root cause of the problem is that parents have failed to teach their children the core value system of society as the children now believe everything is about acquiring wealth.
His words: “The issue is the problem of total collapse of the family and cultural values. I am referring to the collapse of parenting and moral values in a society that has lost track of its cultural and religious, clean conscience. The root of the problem is that parents have failed to teach and nurture their children on moral values. They have also failed to teach their children the core value system of our people.
Parents no longer care or have time to monitor their children. Some parents will see their children with costly vehicles and other materials they can’t afford, but won’t ask a question about how they came about with such materials. Some parents will even accept cars as gifts from their children without asking about how such cars are acquired. And you can’t rule out the adverse effect of peer pressure on youths.
“Our society doesn’t care about the poor or honest people. We worship money and don’t care how it is acquired. No one recognizes or respects you if you don’t have money. People no longer bother about integrity. So, why won’t young people engage in fraudulent acts and rituals to acquire money since society worships money?
“Everything now is money. People no longer have a conscience. Ritual killing is the order of the day. This is why you see young people go to any extent to acquire money and wealth. The total collapse of values is being fueled by politicians who have looted our commonwealth and live flamboyant lives. A single politician elected or appointed in office will take away millions of the funds for the development of the society to himself and nobody questions him. The grab mentality of the politicians in stealing public funds has made things worse. There is no accountability, corruption has taken over.
“As a result of this, most young people now see money as the only thing that matters. It doesn’t matter how you acquire it.’’
Chinekezi further advocated for a system where people should report their neighbours living above their means to the security agencies, stressing that such measures will stem the get rich quick syndrome in the society.
Former Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Abia State chapter, the Rev. Theophilus Anyimson, blamed the get-rich-quick syndrome and moral decadence among youths on poor parental upbringing.
The clergy heaped 95% blame for the moral erosion among youths which has resulted in their resorting to all manner of bad behaviours including ritual killings on the doorsteps of parents.
Rev. Anyimson said when parents fail to inculcate in their children the right values early enough, such children become incorrigible at a certain stage of their lives.
According to him, if parents begin to mold their children’s character with the word of God from the cradle, it would be difficult for such children to be swayed by peer group influence.
“It is all about one’s upbringing background. Children with poor parental upbringing tend to derail in life.
“95% of the blame goes to parents for not starting early to teach their children. If children are brought up in the right way early enough, by the time they start mingling with others in school, they would have had enough foundation to resist bad influence”, he said.
He also blamed some parents who have the habit of comparing their children with their peers who are living in opulence without caring to investigate their source of wealth.
According to him, such unnecessary comparison also pushes some weak-willed youths into looking for how to make wealth at all costs.
On the way forward, Rev. Anyimson recommended intensive bible teaching in families, insisting that the word of God is the only thing capable of transforming life.
“The word of God is the only remedy. It is only the word of God that can change a life”, he asserted.
He also urged schools to give attention to moral instructions, while churches should intensify efforts towards evangelism.
The cleric further recommended constant special religious programmes for youths where ways of handling the numerous challenges they face could be frankly discussed.
On his part, the Traditional Prime Minister of Ibeku ancient kingdom, High Chief Uche Akwukwuegbu, also blamed parents for the sad development.
He said that some parents make unnecessary demands from their children even when they know that such children do not have any known means of livelihood.
“We should blame parents for their love of money which makes them expect their children to start bringing bags of rice to them even when they know that such children have no job”.
Akwukwuegbu noted with regret that some parents do not monitor the movement of their children and the type of friends they keep, hence such children easily get influenced by their peers.
He also blamed Government for not providing job opportunities for the youths, a worrisome development, he regretted making them resort to alternative ways of making wealth.
“Some of the youths are graduates but when they stay many years without any job, they are tempted to begin to look for how to make it in life”.
He, however, urged youths to shun get rich quick attitude, bad companies, and questionable means of wealth.
The Rector, Alive Theological Seminary of Nigeria, Prof. Uzoma Emmanuel in his contribution, said the family, religious organizations, government, and society should all be held liable for the anomaly.
Prof. Emmanuel stated that many parents have abandoned their responsibility of laying a solid and moral foundation for their children.
He also blamed the government for failing to create jobs to engage the youths meaningfully.
Religious organizations, he maintained have also derailed in preaching holiness and salvation, adding that the society now worships money.
“The whole thing lies on the foundation and the foundation begins with the family. You have to train up a child the way he should go so that when he grows, he will not depart from it. Most parents are after money to the detriment of their children.
“With the advent of the internet and technology, children are now exposed to all sorts of things which lead them into crimes. After watching those videos, they would decide to practice them.
“Again, the church on its own seems not to have done its work properly. These youths go to church on Sundays and they listen to pastors. Some of the preachings are not worth it. Some churches have deviated from preaching holiness and salvation that would make the youths live with the fear of God.
“Then, the government has failed on its own part by not providing jobs and social amenities to engage the youths. This is why many youths travel out of the country and are ready to do anything to make money. Most of them spent years in school and after graduation, they find no job, while those who didn’t acquire tertiary education are making money. Such a person cannot be happy.
“Most of those involved in getting rich quick and illicit acts are graduates. They have realized that society worships money. Nobody wants to ask you how you made the money.
“We should blame ourselves and encourage the youths to acquire skills. The youths do not want to acquire skills these days. Many of them prefer to go into robbery, banditry, prostitution, and rituals. And society is facing the consequences.
“Governments should create jobs to engage the youths. Parents should take up their responsibility of inculcating morals in their children to make them responsible. It is not just about giving them money and food, you have to train them up the right way.
“The church should also be blunt in letting the youths know that sin kills. They should create programmes to sensitize the youths and make them realize that this world is a temporary place”, he stated.