Poisoning the Nigerian Child Quietly, By Louis Odion
…steps should be taken to ascertain how such texts and others with lurid contents found their way to the curriculum and all those found culpable along the chain by acts of either commission or omission should be rounded up and tried under relevant sections of the Child Protection Act.
Christian clerics currently raising hell over the subsuming of CRK under another subject in the school curriculum could not be said to have a full view of the bigger sharp razor grating the soft underbelly of the nation’s education system.
Far more lethal, in my view, is the subtle but sustained sexualisation of the curriculum at the secondary level.
This existential threat, more than the fixation on CRK and IRK, ought to rouse both Christian and Islamic faiths to urgent action.
Before we proceed, perhaps a quick word of caution is still auspicious against the backcloth of the growing fire-storm over the “downgrading” of CRK. Given the sensitivity of religion in our environment, the subterfuge by the officialdom and its enablers in a section of the intelligentsia that the policy was inherited from the Jonathan administration – that a “Christian President” actually initiated it – is quite unhelpful indeed.
Agreed that Jonathan was clueless. If the man was also reckless enough yesterday to sow land-mines on his trail, common-sense should prompt the succeeding administration to clear the death trap, not showcase same any further. Faith is fueled by passion, not reason. Only fools would then have imagined that there would be no consequences if adherents of one religion feel – rightly or wrongly – that their totem is being displaced to the upliftment of another faith.
What a wise leadership then does in the circumstance is to exercise utmost caution. In any case, the nation’s prevailing weather is already inclement enough with heavy political turbulence. Let no one add sectarian grenades to the mix.
Now, to the darker iceberg looming ahead. In our own days in the secondary school, the authorities paid more than casual interest to the texts we were exposed to and the sort of characters we made heroes.
For Literature in English in the junior class, we read Passport of Mallam Ilia by Cyprian Ekwensi, So Long A Letter by Mariam Ma Ba, Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, and so on.
Later in senior class, Peter Abrahams’ Mine Boy opened our eyes to the evil of Apartheid in South Africa. Kenneth Kaunda’s Zambia Shall Be Free fired our instincts for patriotism.
In an online campaign seeking signatories to its petition, PHD seeks the outright repeal of the COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY EDUCATION (CSE) “smuggled into school curricula” without parental consent. Reason? Explains PHD: “It is aimed at luring hapless school children into sexual perversity…”
Beyond the riveting plots, each of the novels referenced was meant to impart on our young minds the virtues of patriotism, honesty, forgiveness, piety, patience, endurance and so on.
So, it should be of grave concern today to anyone who cares about the nation’s future that a great number of books being imposed on Nigerian kids are, at best, soft porn in text. This sort of hemlock spares neither Christianity nor Islam. True, modernity demands that writing mirrors it, but not at the expense of morality. It is already bad enough that the environment is contaminated for the contemporary Nigerian child with the explicit contents of music, radio, television, newspapers, etc.
Adding a steamy syllabus to that atmosphere of obscenity will be an overkill indeed.
Already, a strong case against this worrisome development has been marshaled by an advocacy group, Project For Human Development (PHD), and the Parents/Teachers Association and management of Lagos-based The Crescent School.
In an online campaign seeking signatories to its petition, PHD seeks the outright repeal of the COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY EDUCATION (CSE) “smuggled into school curricula” without parental consent. Reason? Explains PHD: “It is aimed at luring hapless school children into sexual perversity. The students in open classroom are taught the various techniques of ‘safe sex’.
They are told to touch their genitals and turn to one another and say ‘I like you’. Students are taught how to wear condoms and give oral sex, ‘hanky-panky’, ‘blowjobs’ and masturbate in open classroom. This is CRIMINAL. It is devilish. It is unlawful. It is unconstitutional. It is not African. It is imported from the West. It is destroying the character of our school children. Therefore we must rise up now and say NO to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). You must stand up and be counted. It is your right as parents/ guardians/citizens to be heard.”
In their own petition already delivered to the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja, the concerned parents of the Crescent School frown at the new “raunchy policies” of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and NECO.
In the case of the former, the parents wrote: “(T)he tradition of literary immorality has recently graduated to the level of … blame-able content of its recommended Use of English text for the 2017 UTME, In Dependence. The book is succinctly described by the author, thus: It is the story of two people struggling to find themselves and each other – a story of passion and idealism, courage and betrayal, and the universal desire to fall madly, deep, in love. Nothing short of this enamoured description of love is depicted by the storyline. In fact, our students who sat for the current UTME found it morally distasteful, to say the least.”
As for NECO, the worried parents contend that the curriculum for the junior secondary school only glamorises acts of indecency such as rape, violence, kidnapping, girl defilement and sexualisation of knowledge.
Overall, what is invariably exposed is the failure of gate-keeping at the education establishment. Just like every other sector of our national life, it is now possible to smuggle any contraband past even the eye of the needle.
Specifically, attention has been drawn to one of NECO’s recommended novellas entitled, The Precious Child, by Queen O. Okweshine, which leaves very little to the imagination about the female anatomy. On page 56, the author’s rendition of a male’s lust for a “sweet 16” is rather too explicit to be restated here.
There is another entitled, The Tears of a Bride written by Oyekunle Oyedeji. The author’s steamy muse apparently reaches a climax on page 91 where he, without care for the sensibilities of the young readers for whom such novel is meant, graphically paints the picture of a rape with the predator coming out “of his house bare to the waist and readjust(ing) his wrapper” and “Romoke (crying) weakly as she comes out from the house holding her wrapper to her chest to prevent it from falling off her body.”
By the way, could this partly explain why, with zippers of their shorts drawn, a group of male students of a public school in Lagos decided to chase after some visiting female students like aroused he-goats recently as the new normal? Perhaps, the naughty boys drew stimulants from Oyedeji’s “Satanic Verses”.
Overall, what is invariably exposed is the failure of gate-keeping at the education establishment. Just like every other sector of our national life, it is now possible to smuggle any contraband past even the eye of the needle. Ideally, texts only get recommended on their own merit after undergoing rigorous screening by the relevant academic board for depth, relevance and wholesomeness.
But the story we hear these days is that publishers/authors now lobby and will give a arm and a leg to have their products listed – the short cut to selling more copies and smiling to the bank. Regardless of whether it is garbage or graffiti!
It will, therefore, not be out of place to link such compromising curricula to the death of morality and the rise of junk values in our society today.
In conclusion, let it be made known to the relevant authorities that, on account of its gravity, official response should not be limited to merely halting exposing the Nigerian child to the corrupting verses referenced above.
Additional steps should be taken to ascertain how such texts and others with lurid contents found their way to the curriculum and all those found culpable along the chain by acts of either commission or omission should be rounded up and tried under relevant sections of the Child Protection Act.
No abuse could be more cruel and indelible on the Nigerian child or more toxic and terminal to the nation’s future.
Wisdom Comes to Maradona after the Whistle
…maybe the Maradona of Minna is still groping in the darkness of poor knowledge today. Otherwise, he should know that June 12 had substantially answered some of the national questions for which answers are still being sought today. June 12 had meant an end to ethno-religious tension and suspicion.
With his latest fulminations, it would appear the transformation of the self-styled military president from an “annullist” to a federalist has turned full cycle. The kind of epiphany we read of biblical Saul morphing to Paul on the road to Damascus.
With intense words, retired General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida seized the last Sallah holiday to pen a strong petition against the present federal arrangement suffocating the states.
Time, he declares, has come to devolve more powers – and, of course, resources – to the constituents of the federation. With that, IBB deftly keys into the popular mood today as the Buhari administration increasingly looks helpless against centrifugal forces tugging at Nigeria’s soul.
However, the Maradona of Minna has harsh words for those advocating the country’s dismemberment. He even waxes poetic: “The drums of war are easy to beat, but their rhythms are difficult to dance. Starting wars or political upheavals comes with the slightest provocation, but ending them becomes inelastic, almost unending with painful footages of the wrecks of war. I have been involved and its ripples are tellingly unpalatable, with gory details of destruction and carnage.”
Such stirring talk.
But IBB failed to be specific; was he nostalgic of the 30-month civil war or the national paralysis inflicted by June 12?
While we cannot take anything away from Maradona’s latest composition for its poetry and perspicacity, its hypocrisy should not be allowed to pass unchallenged, especially for the sake of the generation of Nigerians under-30 unfamiliar with the nuances of recent history.
One, the epistle would have sounded more sincere had the author, for once, evinced some humility by prefacing same with an apology for his poor understanding while in power and therefore the Herodian persecution of those who had foreseen and forewarned that the inherited rickety federal structure was tottering to a collapse.
Indeed, the unique convergence of historical forces of the 80s quite positioned IBB to radically alter the Nigerian narrative for good in the same way Nasser led the Egyptian military to transform the North African country from its age-old feudal squalor.
Again, when Maradona now pontificates that “war is not romantic”, we wonder if he had, by any chance, come to that wisdom before June 23 in 1993 when, without fear of God nor respect for fellow citizens, he summarily annulled the results of the June 12 presidential elections clearly won by Abiola…
Rather, Maradona only clamped down on the likes of foremost nationalist Anthony Enahoro and courageous lawyer Alao Aka-Bashorun at the forefront of the restructure advocacy in the late 80s and early 90s. High on the agenda they were pushing then were the issues of fiscal federalism, redefinition of citizens’ rights and return to parliamentary system.
Inspired by the tectonic shift in world order as signposted by the collapse of old Soviet in 1989, the nation’s progressive community actually took practical steps to convoke a sovereign national conference in 1990. But afraid that the movement could trigger a momentum that would sweep him out of ill-gotten power, then dictator IBB sent his goons to chase and tear-gas the activists away from where they assembled in Lagos.
Across the border in Benin Republic, a similar movement had ushered the ouster of dictator X Mathieu Kerekou. But the latter’s loss was only temporary. He would reap bounteously few years later as he got elected president democratically through a process dictated by a sanitised political order.
Again, when Maradona now pontificates that “war is not romantic”, we wonder if he had, by any chance, come to that wisdom before June 23 in 1993 when, without fear of God nor respect for fellow citizens, he summarily annulled the results of the June 12 presidential elections clearly won by Abiola, thus plunging the nation into needless crises, exacting heavy human casualties, inadvertently inflicting lunatic Abacha on the country for another five dark years.
Only a shameless hypocrite would canvass the kind of lofty views contained in IBB’s statement of last Monday and also be implicated in the June 12 perfidy.
Or, maybe the Maradona of Minna is still groping in the darkness of poor knowledge today. Otherwise, he should know that June 12 had substantially answered some of the national questions for which answers are still being sought today. June 12 had meant an end to ethno-religious tension and suspicion.
For predominantly Christian states voted a Muslim-Muslim ticket that day. A Southern presidential candidate defeated his opponent in his own native state in North. The presidential candidate of Yoruba extraction won an Igbo state.
That was the golden chance Maradona willfully squandered. Alas, he now seeks to affect wisdom long after history had blown the whistle on his sorry reign.
Louis Odion is a Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE).