September 28, 2022

One of the most agonizing fact staring all Nigerians in the face is that of the children living and growing in an atmosphere of unprecedented chaos and turbulence occasioned by the daily doses of frightening news and reports. Even though Nigeria cannot be said to be a pariah state just as yet, all emerging updates of those held in great trust suggest a regime enmeshed in a sea of hidden criminals in whom the entire nation has reposed much confidence. As it were, Nigeria has slept with fire over its roof and no one should wonder for too long why it is difficult for the nation to move forward.

Just few days ago, one of Nigeria’s most revered Accountant-General was arrested by the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission on charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of about 80 billion naira. Before that, executive governors of states had been found guilty of mismanagement of public funds and clamped in jail before they were recently given state pardon. The situation of things is so dire that wherever anyone turns, it’s always the same story of embezzlement and corruption. Without any public role models any longer, most of the youth themselves have resorted to  all manners of internet frauds all as products of a decayed and decaying society.
How children are expected to grow under such a dastardly atmosphere into full-fledged law abiding citizens is difficult to understand. The fallout of societal decadence is the proliferation of dreadful cult groups among the youth which continue to give everyone sleepless nights. Faced with inadequate number of security personnel to contain each disaster wrecked by different cult groups, everyone now lives under the fear of the unknown and the Nigerian climate is now very charged and tense. In all the problems confronting Nigeria, the greatest challenge is how to combat the criminal tendency in today’s youth and redirect their focus into positive engagements. Yet this should not be an uphill task if the nation is ready to turn things around by examining the strategies employed in the past that can help to work on the children’s consciences and consciousness.
It is often difficult to believe that certain measures that are not seen as important are actually those that play certain unimaginable roles in people especially children’s psyche to encourage them towards decent living. Part of the method employed in the past to build children up morally and spiritually was by introducing them to godly songs from their inception. Through it, they were taught the need to cultivate attitudes that make for peaceful coexistence and societal progress. In the elementary stage, there was the hymnal called: Songs of Praise which was used in conducting morning assembly. Learning the songs and singing them every morning assisted in no small measure in grooming the children into highly responsible lot. In the secondary school, the  moral songs culture continued with another hymnal, Sacred Songs and Solos which had just the same effect as that of the primary schools.
It must be noted that throughout the period under discussion, there was never any conflict between the two major religions, Islam and Christianity, and everyone worked together to achieve the best in all learners. Muslims attended Christian schools and Christians did same in Muslim schools without any hassles. All hands were on deck only to achieve the best in terms of education and finesse of each child.
Years later, those who felt threatened by the impact such culture had on children revolted against it and argued that morning assembly should be conducted without the hymnal but only the singing of national anthem and pledge and nothing else. That was the genesis of problems as a people as children began to get very loose in their character and comportment. If things must go back to what it used to be therefore, there is nothing wrong in retracing our footsteps as a people and returning the children to the path of moral consciousness which will help to re-sharpen their perception about life.
In order to guard against conflict, the two popular religions, Christianity and Islam must be actively involved though for better result, the hymnal with their life-molding songs should be allowed to play a greater impact because of its tendency to speak directly to learner’s subconscious thereby inculcating in them the much-desirable core values. Moreover, functional libraries as obtainable in the past should be restored to all schools and special efforts should also be made to encourage the reading culture among learners through competitions backed by interesting awards based on literature textbooks which will, by and large compel wide readership among learners.
With such reorientation with Godly songs and visible promotion of the reading culture, things will gradually begin to return to normal. Whatever needs to be done to change the current dangerous narrative, the time is now. 
Oyewusi, the coordinator of Ethics Watch International, wrote in from Lagos.

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