22 February 2013

Nigeria: Resorting to Risky Means to Survive


The fact that there is poverty in the land and people do all sorts of odd jobs to survive is no news but it is however kind of strange to find a young girl in her late teens or early twenties standing along the road as if waiting to board a car, a few days ago, only for her to tell me after I have parked my car that she was looking for a job.

When I asked her what sort of job, she said, "House girl."

I told her that I was not looking for a house girl, and asked why she was standing along the street if she was looking for a job.

She bade me goodbye and started walking away quickly.

But even after I left the place, the episode kept nagging me. The mother in me worried about her.

My first thought was where are her parents or her guardians that are supposed to take care of her?

Alright, even if she is forced to look after herself and even help her parents and siblings, to look for a job standing in the street is dangerous. It is far better to knock at people's doors and ask if they need a house help.

Even if the young girl is innocent, some may assume that she is wayward and want to be picked by men and take advantage of her.

Still, some may deceive her and 'employ' her only for her to be enslaved in a prostitution racket.

She can also fall prey to other sort of criminals such as armed robbers, who may drag her into their gang or become a victim of ritual killers.

On the other hand, if in a rush of magnanimity, you take such a girl as a house girl, you may be bringing trouble into your house. She may be a member of a criminal gang that sends these girls to scout houses for them to go and rob and so on.

In any case, assuming that this girl is innocent, as definitely some in her position may be, this has shown the pathetic state of our society where both parents and the government have derailed in nurturing our young ones to develop into useful members of the society.

Parents in a lot of instances have relegated their responsibilities, particularly fathers, of taking the financial burden of the family. They leave the mothers to fend for the family through whatever means.

While the mothers, overwhelmed, encourage their daughters to go and get money anyhow to help feed the family. In other words the daughters are given the go-ahead to become prostitutes, as long as they bring the money home.

And the father would never dare ask about the goodies he sees, since he doesn't take care of the family.

To make matters worse, the mother and the children look down on him, and there is nothing he can do about it. After all, one of the main issues in marriage is for the husband to take care of the family in providing shelter, food, clothing and so on. Where he cannot provide such things, he might as well become a shadow.

A friend told me recently, that one Islamic scholar on a radio programme in Kano admonished such men, saying they have made their wives to roam all over the place in search of what little they can get to fend for the family.

He said some of these women with babies and toddlers would go from house to house asking to do laundry or outright begging, while they have husbands.

On the part of the government, it should do more to train our youth in skill acquisition. It should also be more serious in fighting corruption, because people like this girl in dare need of how to keep body and soul together would habour a resentment against the government and leaders, hearing and reading of monumental fraud by government officials, while they live in abject poverty.

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