Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Researchers, scholars, security experts, policy makers and others brainstormed for three days, last week, in search of solution to the challenges of violence and criminality in the country. Participants at the international conference organised by The Grace Uzoma Okonkwo Foundation in collaboration with Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), agreed that all hands must be on deck to address the worrisome situation.
Tagged: “Criminality and Violence as Growing Phenomena in the 21st Century Globalised World,” the conference attracted many notables like former Kano State governor, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma and chairman, Editorial Board of The Sun, Mr. Robert Obioha.
Convener of the conference, Prof Florence Orabueze set the tempo: “Researchers and scholars in the academia will no longer keep quiet to the rising wave of crime; that is why we are bringing stakeholders together to brainstorm in order to proffer solutions before the situation gets out of hand.” Shekarau urged Nigerians to give top priority to family orientation.
He stressed that until family orientation was returned to what it used be in ‘70s and ‘80 when morality and good behaviour were rewarded, criminality and violence would continue to be on the rise: «What are in the families in any country are a reflection of morality and behaviour in that country.
“What is happening today is as result of poor family orientation because parents have abandoned family responsibilities in search of material wealth. We must go back to good value system of 1970s and 1980s when good morality and behaviours were rewarded not the present situation we respect money which we do not the source.
“Our religious and political leaders should avoid hate speeches that are capable of promoting hatred and violence.” He also identified unemployment and abuse of drugs by some youths as another driver of crime and violence in the country, arguing that the vices would be drastically reduced if majority of youths had employments”
“Some youths commit crime because they have nothing doing since an idle mind is devil’s workshop. Abuse of drugs plays major role in crime as researches have shown that armed robbers, rapists, kidnappers and armed bandits take drugs before committing crimes.
“It is because we worship money and wealth we do not the source that criminality and violence has continued to increase.” Shekarau was represented by Dr Bala Mohammed.
Archbishop Chukwuma heaped the blame on the door step of unemployment and bad leadership, but noted that the church had always condemned violence and criminality. He was categorical that Nigeria was reaping the fruits of abandoning its youths:
“We are reaping what we sowed because we abandoned our youths’ welfare and today they are fighting back. Money that should have been used to provide employments and empower our youths have been looted by some politicians. Some youths in the country are not happy that they are abandoned by government as well as poor leadership.”
He lamented that in spite of government telling the youths that they were the leaders of tomorrow, those in government 30 years ago are still in power today: “The best way to curb criminality and violence is giving youths the opportunity as leaders to occupy their rightful place in the country.”
In his paper, titled; “Rising Criminality and Challenges of Crime Reporting in Nigeria,” Obioha noted that the increase in criminal activities in the country had reached an alarming rate: “The upsurge in criminal activities in Nigeria in recent times has, indeed, reached a frightening dimension that we do not need the service of a soothsayer to discern that the nation may slide into anarchy if nothing is urgently done by the government and relevant security agencies to curb the heinous activities of the undesirable elements in our midst.
“If the extant media reports on crime in Nigeria are anything to go by, then the country may well be sitting on a keg of gun powder. The explosion of the gun powder will have dire consequences for the nation.”
He government at all levels must address and improve the social conditions and welfare of Nigerians as enshrined in the nation’s constitution: “It should create many jobs to reduce the rate of unemployment, especially among youths”, while also recommending adequate training for crime reporters and some media managers to ensure objectivity in crime reporting.”
Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Charles Igwe, said criminality and violence were inimical to human development and national progress. He called for all hands to be on deck to root out crime since, urging the participants not to “see the conference as another talk shop but avenue to proffer solutions to the insecurity challenges.”