The news last week of the drowning of a 17-year-old undergraduate of the University of Abuja, Emmanuel Balogun, in a swimming pool in a hotel in Abuja was not only scary but disturbing. According to reports, the deceased, had attended a party organised for freshers in the university in company with his friends when tragedy struck at about 3:33am. His three friends who were with him, according to an account by an alleged friend of the family, watched him drown and even rebuffed attempts by one of them to raise the alarm to save their drowning friend, on the grounds that the deceased likes to show off his parents’ wealth and is the toast of all the girls. These are just teenagers, first year university students. What level of envy and hatred drives children that young to be so callous to the extent of such a crime as alleged culpable homicide.
Crimes such as this only go to show how dysfunctional the Nigerian society has become. The level of involvement of teenagers and other young person in criminal activities has reached alarming proportion and calls for deep reflection on the roles of families as the United Nations International Day of Families is being observed today. The United Nations recognises the family as the basic unit of society and the International Day of Families provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting them. Over the years, the UN has used this day to inspire a series of awareness-raising events, including national family days. In many countries, this day is an opportunity to highlight different areas of interest and importance to families.
This year, the UN is reflecting on the theme:“Families and Climate Action: Focus on SDG 13 and focuses on families, family policies and major SDG 13 targets: Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning, integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
Beyond the theme for this year’s event, we see the International Day of Families as a significant day to call the attention of parents and care givers to raising responsible children to be responsible citizens in the society.While admitting that children from the best homes may end up being bad citizens from peer pressure and other factors, the dysfunctional state of the society as we see it, can be traced to the dysfunctional state of some families. We live in a society where many parents have abdicated their responsibilities of raising their parents to teachers and nannies. Some children are strangers to their parents as the parents hardly know them, having not being involved in the upbringing of these children. There is a need for total value reorientation in our society and this must begin from the homes.
In the case of the late Balogun, it is cheering news that the FCT command of the Nigeria Police Force has arrested three students of the university in connection with the incident. We call on the police to diligently prosecute the matter and ensure that justice is done in the case, if the suspects are found culpable. This will hopefully deter other youngsters from getting involved in such criminal acts which punishment literally ends their lives even before they start living.