Daniel Ricky Ohikhena, 14, from Benin City crept into national and international consciousness and notoriety when, on August 24, he hid himself in the tyre compartment of an Arik aircraft, rode the skies, endured the storms at an unbelievable altitude of about 30,000 feet above sea level, withstanding the turbo-charged rambunctious taxing off in Benin City and touchdown in Lagos 45 minutes later.
It was a dare-devilish gambit never heard of in the derring-do world of teenagers anywhere in the world. This suicidal flight was phenomenal for impressionable minds and had its roots in Daniel's exposure to violent foreign films and broken homes. Like most teenagers and youth, he had lost hope that Nigeria could provide him opportunities to realise his potential and was consumed by the passion to be in "God's own country" or any other country for that matter. Unfortunately for the youngster, instead of the United States, he landed in Lagos to the embarrassment of all. This misadventure has questioned our premium on family value, national security, the evil effects of cultural imperialism within globalisation and through the information super-highway. Because Daniel's parents are separated, it simply lent credence to psychologists' view on how a child could get maladjusted. While the boy alleged mistreatment, the mum Evelyn denied the charge, but the dad alluded to the mother's stubbornness.
Adults need to pay more attention to their deeds and our teens - in the family, community, schools, local councils, churches and corporate bodies. The failure of leadership and patriotism is also undeniably discernible in the saga. It is inconceivable if the lad would have contemplated this savage adventure if the country had provided the requisite level-playing field, infrastructural facilities and enabling environment for him to realise his dreams.
As a consequence of his suicidal gambit, offers of scholarship up to university level and a possible "official" US visit for Daniel have come from both the Edo State government and Osun State-based non-governmental organisation, De Raufs Volunteer Group. It is obviously a misguided charity. It has potential to motivate more teenagers into this kind of dastardly venture. What Daniel needs is the intervention of clinical psychologists, as his psyche needs to be weaned off destructive anger. Sustained counselling to pursue his dreams legally will better assist him, his ilk and their families. If he were an adult, he sure would be cooling his feet in detention now.
In a way, Daniel's misadventure has exposed the inadequacy of security measures in places that should be "security zones" in the country. For the young voyager to have beaten the airport security is a sad and frightening reminder of our vulnerability.