The recent unruly behaviour of students of two public secondary schools in Lagos State can never and must never be condoned. The male students of Ireti Senior Grammar School, Ikoyi, and Falomo Senior High School, who had participated in the West African Examination Council (WAEC)-conducted West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSE), were said to have pounced on their female colleagues and attempted to defile them in broad daylight.
One of those who liberated the girls from the assault narrated how a schoolgirl was defiled in public on the same spot by some of the boys a week earlier.
A woman, who led the rescuers and later called attention to the assault on social media, said the victims screamed in fear, which attracted her attention. She said: “Their shouting overpowered any other sound and looking closely I saw the most unreal thing.
It was actually a boy trying to force himself on a girl with his trousers partly down and the boys were cheering him on. “People were looking and the security guards in the office near us were recording it. I opened my car in disbelief and shouted on the boys to break it up while shouting at my security and the second driver to assist me.”
The woman added that as she was trying to save the girl, she saw another group of boys trying to rape another girl.
According to her, while the girl was trying desperately to free herself from her attackers, one of the boys brought out a pair of scissors and cut open the girl’s skirt and her underwear. However, she was, with the help of some men, able to rescue about 60 girls from the clutches of the randy students.
Newspapers and other media are daily awash with the stories of rape and defilement. But the brazen way these boys went about defiling their classmates, who they probably have associated with in class and other academic engagements for at least six years, shows the deep which the Nigerian society has sunk.
It shows a moral degeneration. It means Nigeria has sunk into a moral cesspit. Where did Nigeria go wrong?
When did the country lose its moral value? In this clime, sexual relationship between minors was frowned at. In some cultures, it was a taboo for even adults to mention sex in public. Then, dressing was moderate and moderated. Public display of affection was forbidden. Proper behaviour between opposite sex was the norm.
Of course, that was the glorious past. The days of wine and roses.
Now, everybody – the government, parents, school authorities, etc. – has a share in the blame in what transpired on the Lagos Island on May 3. In trying to ape the West, most states, including Lagos, have relegated discipline while parents too have sacrificed parental roles on the altar of economic emancipation.
Also, the school authorities of about six schools – Falomo, Ireti, Osborn, Keffi, and two others – involved in the sexual depravity have not done anything to check the evil trend.
Although it is reported that four of the boys have been arrested, appropriate sanctions must be applied to everyone found culpable, including those guilty of dereliction of duty to rein in, at the earliest stage, the unbridled boys. Outside this, discipline must return to our schools.
Appropriate punishment must be meted out on students in all schools across the country whenever there is infraction of the rules guiding moral conduct. The blanket ban on punishment should be lifted immediately.
The old maxim says: “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” This also finds expression in the word of the Nigerian-born British boxing champion, Anthony Joshua, who said the discipline he got while in Nigerian secondary school moulded him.
He said: “The government raise your kids now; parents aren’t allowed to raise their kids, because there is so much control about what you do or what you say. In the Nigerian culture it’s family, outside support; everyone has a role in raising the kids.”
Government must also begin an immediate campaign on moral regeneration in primary and secondary schools. To check the fledgling rape culture in the country, those found guilty in the debauchery by the Lagos schoolboys must not, in any way, be allowed to go scot-free.
Those still below 18 can be taken to the remand homes for reformation, while the victims must also be counselled. Both religious and political leaders must also spare a thought for the youth, if they are truly regarded as the future leaders.
The future of Nigeria is in dire straight if what those expected to take charge in the future can offer is what the Lagos pupils displayed on May 3.
Moral teaching, instead of prosperity, should, once again, like in the days of yore, dominate preaching in worship centres. Greed, avarice and affluent display of wealth by political leaders, who continue to loot our patrimony, will only encourage brigandage and rebellion in the youth.