Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Arewa representatives: The need to deal with the social vices as the COVID-19

Arewa representatives: The need to deal with the social vices as the COVID-19
June 26
15:02 2020


It is very unfortunate that Arewa is facing this unprecedented social crisis at a frightening scale – all sorts of social vices from banditry, armed robbery, insurgency, kidnapping for ransom, communal clashes, substance abuse, political thuggery, violence against and neglect of children, rape, etc, etc. Our society is almost broken and government alone cannot fix everything. We all contributed towards creating the problem – either directly by certain wrong actions, or indirectly by failing to take certain right actions, and resolving it require our collective efforts.

Our society was a beautiful one, when we used to be our brothers’ keepers in the truest sense. Then, we understood that helping a stranger or the neighbour’s child, is not a favour to them, but a service to society. We had a spirit of service to others being service to oneself, through service to the society. It made us mindful of individual and collective responsibilities to the society and to one other, with empathy and compassion.

Unfortunately, we relinquish that supportive community culture, for a more individualistic culture, thereby allowing the weak and vulnerable to fend for themselves. Generally, societies based on such individualistic culture normally have structures in place to care for those who cannot manage on their own. But we copied and pasted without implementing those necessary structures.

Sadly, this generated a situation whereby the relatively more advantaged individuals are often filled with horrible, elevated sense of entitlement; diminished sense of responsibility; and hardly any compassion. Conversely, most of the less advantaged are filled with so much bitterness owing to a sense of being ignored by the society, of no one being there, and of their welfare not being protected. With a perception of being overlooked, and experiences of plentiful adversities, a person’s emotional intelligence can be out of place, creating susceptibility to being misled into any antisocial behaviour.

By and large, the most common denominators among the perpetrators of the social vices are poverty and neglect by the larger society. People are deprived of basic necessities of life, and hardly does anyone see it as much of a problem. So, not only the government is at fault by failing to fulfil basic responsibilities towards a very significant percentage of the population, but those who are in a position to reprimand the government are also at fault for not considering that failure a serious issue.

We are silent as basic human rights are denied, but quick to criticise the people for failing to deliver on responsibilities that no one taught them about; we remain nonchalant spectators when the government failed to provide the necessary infrastructure for meaningful occupation and enterprise, but reproach the people for being lazy and remaining in poverty; rather than holding the government accountable for not providing adequate facilities for education accessible to all, we blame the people of refusing to be educated.

As a society, we underrate the overall impact of such I-don’t-care attitude by assuming that something does not affect us directly. That in itself, is complicity towards enabling the environment for all these social vices to thrive.

Furthermore, youth today are facing exceptional challenges with collective effects that are not easily fathomable. It is a myriad of challenges from culturally-insensitive social media driven life; to overload of information which they (mostly) lack the capacity to scrutinise; to social pressure and cyberbullying; to incessant exposure to different cultural, religious, political and social views without any form of monitoring or control; to unrealistic (especially online peer- related) expectations due to globalization, etc etc.

For these (and perhaps, other) reasons, the society has a mounting number of desolate and confused youth, overwhelmed by a sense of worthlessness (due to hopelessness, helplessness, and lack of direction); too disoriented to grasp the gravity of their pathetic situation; and devoid of the capability to ponder about their future – which is the future of our society.

Consequently, most of these social vices are committed by youths who are supposed to have had some form of intervention, but lack someone to guide and point them towards the right direction. Sometimes such people just take one wrong step, and with no one to extend a helping hand, pull them back and help them see life from a different perspective, they end up just going all the way down. Unfortunately, that may end up destroying not just a person, but an entire family.

Nevertheless, this does not by any means excuse, justify or underplay accountability towards any of the social vices, nor does it exonerate the perpetrators. But just as treating symptoms does not solve a medical condition, any effort that does not address the underlying social problems, will do very little towards addressing the crisis. So, instead of just investing so much in condemning (not even properly fighting) the vices, more should be done in taking measures towards stopping them, by examining and addressing the root causes.

And doing that require collective efforts, commitments and contributions like was done for the COVID-19. On the onset of COVID-19, the way that people zealously showered contributions towards fighting it, was such a pleasant surprise. Pleasing to witness a semblance of the oneness and togetherness that used to be, but surprising that it had to take a pandemic for people to do the necessary for the society. The need for similar interventions in addressing the social vices which have become epidemics breaking down our society, is very obvious and overwhelming. These vices are as much threats to our society, or even worse than the COVID- 19 pandemic. How comes we keep waiting for the government to take care of the social crisis, without making significant commitments and contributions as was done for the COVID-19?

Although there are individuals, few NGOs, advocacy organizations, and some government entities making some efforts in that regards, the efforts are too little and disjointed, thus relatively insignificant in view of the gravity of situation.

There is need for well-coordinated, concerted and consistent efforts for social reformation back to our societal norms and values. This is something that those associations functioning as serving and protecting the interest of Arewa [like NEF (Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Arewa Youth Forum (AYF), etc] can, and should spearhead. Other organizations, whose missions align with this [like Arewa Center for Regional Development (ACRD)] are also in a very good position to lend a hand on this.

Many schemes including both physical and online social support services, as well as programmes can be utilized for the reformation. And we have what it takes to garner the necessary resources required (human, technical, financial, etc), if we are truly committed. The services should provide continuum support; guidance and counselling; and a platform for potential opportunities (for overcoming addiction, job or entrepreneurship, education or training, community service, help against domestic and sexual abuse, etc.). With the help of experts (already available amid us), a variety of programs can be used as the media for engaging the targeted individuals from all facets of life. From individual mentoring; to seminars and workshops; religious and cultural forums for communities, schools, and higher institutions; (even) talent shows; sponsored movies and songs; etc could all be used with clear purpose towards the reformation. And of course, relevant policy reforms as and when due. This will restore that sense of belonging, responsibility and togetherness that we lost.

Candidly, many of us are products of opportunities – either by birth, or by certain intervention or support we fortunately received from someone. We owe it to ourselves and to our society, to create the enabling environment for many others to get similar opportunities. If not as a religious obligation, and if not for the integrity to worry about others, then to safeguard ourselves, our children, and their future. For the sake of averting the concerns that: someone close to you may be misled into substance abuse; or you may receive that horrifying call requesting a ransom for the life of your loved one; or you may become a victim of some awful violence; or you may become affected in some other way that can make one of these vices personal to you.

May God protect us all, preserve our families, and bless us with the foresight and fortitude to care about the plight of others, and to fight the social vices, so we can recreate the beautiful and secured Arewa.

Zakari is Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria  

[email protected]; [email protected]


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1 Comment

  1. Aliyuridha
    Aliyuridha June 27, 21:55

    I pray this piece reaches,circulates in the bloods and gets uterlized by all stakeholders,victims,those in power as well as the masses.
    May Allah credit your efforts.

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