Friday, 8 November 2013

RAPE CONVICTS DESERVE DEATH PENALTY - Joshua Oyeniyi (Published by THE NATION and DAILY INDEPENDENT Newspapers on 6th November, 2013)


I had just alighted from the bus, on a return from a trip, and proceeded to the vendor stand to get a copy of my favourite national daily. I flipped through the first four pages, in an apparent rush to catch the interesting headlines before settling down for proper reading, and staring me in the face were stories that sank my spirit into deep sullenness. Sitting on the third and four pages were horrible, appalling accounts of acts of rape in different dimensions, with one causing the premature death of its nine year old victim, a primary three pupil. A few weeks before this, I had also read of varying reports of the incidences of rape and in a bid to have a break from these distressing news, I logged on to the internet for some ‘better’ news. But no sooner had I started surfing the internet than I saw a video of another rape case. In this video, the young woman was tied by the hands, stuffed in the mouth with a napkin, apparently to stop her from shouting for help, raped and then buried alive. This happened on Bonny Island, Rivers State, Nigeria. The military, however, got wind of the nefarious act, apprehended the perpetrators and forced them to exhume the corpse before the lens of video cameras. It was no less a morbid scene!
Fast forward to the day I bought this newspaper. The story was told of a 14 year old boy, Onyi Adimabua, who allegedly raped a nine year old pupil. Worse still, he committed the act five times with the threat to kill her if she opened up to anybody. However, the poor victim started complaining of pains below her abdomen and when questioned, she exposed to her parents how she had been defiled by her proprietor’s son. Sadly enough, the primary three student died of complications arising from vaginal injuries and forced sexual intercourse. I almost sobbed! Still seething with anger from the story, I proceeded to the opposite page to see yet another rape story. In this case, a vigilance group chief, Liasu Oyedele, had accosted a female student of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, and forcefully had carnal knowledge of her. Even after discovering that the victim was menstruating, Oyedele continued, allegedly for close to two hours, before passers-by came to the rescue of the already exhausted lady.
Rape isn’t just an offence; it is a crime against humanity with sore consequences on its unfortunate victims. It derobes its victims of their human dignity, body sanctity and innocence with its transcendent consequences of exposure to self-absorption, acute depression, resort to prostitution and or outright death. As much as no reason is justifiable for rape crimes, the underlying causes must be pin-pointed. In the case of 14 years Onyi, he had confessed to being obsessed with pornographic films. It is no longer seen as a misnomer when these sellers of movie CDs and DVDs openly display adult movies to the eagle sharp eyes of children and minors. Our house is on fire and we sleep, seemingly unperturbed. A large number of movies churned out by Nollywood shamelessly glamorise sex scenes and our unwary wards get ‘hypnotized’ and excited to try out ‘evil stunts’ by carrying out forced sex on the little girl next door.
Our society is no more a safe haven for our women and female children. Demons, in human flesh, now prowl our streets, abducting women and ripping them of their self-pride. Moreover, the ever-increasing hustle and bustle of city life have made our parents to shift the care of their female wards to ‘caretakers’, ‘tenants’ and ‘big brothers/uncles’. Resultantly, these undisciplined men take advantage of the female kids. For the umpteenth time, I ask that we cease attributing the rise in acts of sexual acts and rape to poor fashion culture of our female folks. It is a lame excuse! As much as I concur that our women ‘show too much flesh’ in the name of fashion, an evil in itself, it will take a demented man to let loose his libidinous urges because of a woman’s sense of dress. This craziness has to stop and this evil monster, tagged rape, quickly brought to a halt.
I propose a capital punishment for convicts of rape crime as it would serve as deterrent to those contemplating it. This, I believe, will help, in no small way, to drastically reduce the high incidences of rape of different dimensions – and no more will the act be seen as a cheap means of sexual gratification while desecrating the bodies of its victims. It is high time the legislative arm of government enact a capital punishment against rape as quickly as they want their bogus salaries paid. Otherwise, apart from losing our sisters and female friends to harsh deaths, decent men, like me, may never get a virgin for wife.
Parents must regularly check up on their female wards. Mothers must take out time to be alone with them and know what transpired during their day at school. It is, however, sad to note that even fathers now lead the pack of rapists, with some producing children through their daughters – an abomination indeed! Our mothers should be most concerned and discerning.

ASUU STRIKE: JUST FOR MR PRESIDENT'S EARS - Joshua Oyeniyi ( Published by Several topnotch Nigerian Newspapers and newsportals including THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER (Sept. 9th), THE NATION, INFORMATION NIGERIA et al)

Mr. President, please do not mistake this piece for an attack on your person because it is not. Neither would I want you to see me as one of those attention-seeking people because I am not. Of course, Sir, I am also not the son of any governor, senator,  local government chairman or any political office holder, otherwise, I would have no business writing such an open letter to you because it is against my family’s ethics to ‘talk while eating’. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness of educational misery, saying, “Prepare the way for either a future of political stability and economic boom or prepare for worse than what religious extremists are meting out to our country now”.
As I write on this sultry day, I am completely at a loss to know what to make of my future from here. If this were just the case, it would, probably, be an insignificant reason to go on the rampage with the sword of the pen. But, I write on behalf of the millions of dreams that are getting squashed by the day as the total shut-down of our universities persists. I write on behalf of the future of the several hundreds of thousands who have been privileged, amidst the stiff competition for admission, to grasp tertiary education but may end up worse than their disadvantaged counterparts, since they may never finish, much less finish on schedule their educational pursuits. The handwriting on the wall, clearly now, more than ever before foretells a dangerous twist to the continuing imbroglio between your administration and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). I do not know if the public keeps the date as much as we do but it is well over 65 days already and I cannot help but wonder if anyone really cares what becomes of our street-wandering undergraduates. If I had a next life, I hope to never be a Nigerian or be born with a silver spoon because the poor are really just ‘on their own’ as long as our government is concerned. Mr President, in three simple words, “We are tired”. We, the students in the federal universities, are always at the receiving end of every impasse between ASUU and the government and all I can ask for now is that you and your think tank reconsider your stand on the matter. We can only bear this much!
I am not ASUU’s spokesman but it is only logical that I expect your administration to honour the 2009 agreement with the Union so normalcy can return to our campuses and of course, our disenchanted academic lives. Personally, I have spent more years than is required to have my first and second degrees and yet I am grappling to take a Bachelor’s degree out of an institution that only recently had an internal strike because you would have our name ‘rebranded’.  Mr President, every day this strike continues, more dreams die and more future riff -raff are born. It is my firm belief that children still do bear the sins of their fathers and even when you are no more, posterity will remember your progenitors for good or ill based on how you handle this national educational crisis we suffer now. It goes without saying that for 14 years that your party has held sway over the affairs of this nation, we cannot boast of a Nigerian university (not a single one) amongst the first 2000 in the world. This is more than enough reason to release the requisite fund for the upgrade of our educational infrastructure as well as the welfare of the future’s moulders. It will only be emphatic to say that we can get out of our educational system as much as we invest in it and though investment in educational is long term, it is also long-rewarding. Your administration will only be breeding poor intellectuals, who will, in turn, produce another generation of mediocre graduates and in 10 years, what do we have, sir? A national carnage! Our unborn children are in jeopardy of being societal scum even before their conception. But you can change all of this!
The greatest weapon of mass destruction is to put a teacher who knows nothing before the students. This will be the case if your administration does not honour the 2009 agreement with ASUU such that lecturers’ welfare gets taken care of.
Mr President, the one second of your time which I asked for is almost up but I am optimistic that if you give utmost diligence to putting an end to the incessant strikes that have been plaguing our tertiary educational system as much as you do to security matters or party issues and conventions, we would not be where we are today: struggling to maintain peace in our land.
I reiterate my advice, sir. Honour the 2009 agreement with ASUU so we may return to our lecture rooms and pick up the pieces of our scattered semesters. So I can round off my first degree programme and go on to patriotically serve my fatherland.  So, I can focus on growing my baby company to maturity and provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youths. So, I can get married, give my mother her first grandchild and keep my late father’s name as his only son. So, I can fulfil my dreams of helping young people reach the zenith of their potential through my writing, public speaking and role-modelling. Mr President, help me and my fellow undergraduates live decent lives even if our parents are not among the top one per cent who squander our national earnings in the name of political office holders. Would you do this for me, for us, for Nigeria’s future? I hope you do. Thank you, sir, for giving me a second of your time.

TRENDS ON NIGERIAN CAMPUSES - Joshua Oyeniyi (Published by THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER on 14th October, 2013)

I recall vividly a debating competition I won during my 200 level days. During the competition, all the contestants had to speak impromptu on randomly selected topics and I was asked to speak briefly on “Social activities on campus as a major source of distraction for undergraduates”. I did my best in supporting the motion but my opponent made some punchlines in his retaliatory response. “The university”, he said, “is a place for self-discovery and not necessarily for sitting tight with books”. He went on to make allusions to the possibility of students finding out who they really are and what they were born to do. This, therefore, threw up the mind-boggling question: Are the social activities on campus doing more harm than good?
Having spent over four years in a federal university, I have attended a series of events cutting across the academics, career development, human capital development, music shows, talent hunts and so on. Truth be told, these activities are designed to bring to the fore the innate potential of our undergraduates and the organisers deserve lots of kudos. But how much is too much? One particular type of social events is the talent hunt shows now trending on our campuses nationwide. This is spreading like wildfire throughout the length and breadth of Nigerian institutions of higher learning due to the generous acceptance that greeted their introduction. Whether it is a musical talent show, where the new Tufaces, DBanjs are expected to rise from, or beauty pageants where another Agbani Darego will spring from or a comedy talent hunt from which another Ali Baba, Basket Mouth or Seyi Law could emerge, is another matter entirely.
There has always been an ever-increasing excitement amongst undergraduates about the above-mentioned social activities. Does it not pose a concern that so many Nigerian students in tertiary institutions are turning to these shows and events as a means of escaping academic rigours and finding quick fame and riches?
The thrills and frills that fill the air during such shows speak volumes for how much of an attraction they are. The other day, I got talking with Allen Ekwuru, an undergraduate of the University of Lagos, who won a Macho contest on campus and eventually went on to win the Mr. Universe Nigeria Pageant. He said, “I have been receiving calls from fellow students as to how they can get to where I am.” He even bared his mind on the challenges he has had to confront, one of which that is his receipt of anonymous calls from women asking to be visited with promises to pay for his return tickets.
This writer once attended a musical and theatre art talent show on campus and was mesmerised by the confusion that many undergraduates have about what really their talents are. It is absolute futility to try to be what you are not or venture into a career because someone else has made it via the same route. It was obvious that many of these contestants had no business with music, singing or acting but only wanted the fast lane to stardom.
However, many beautiful talents are being discovered by the day at these shows and the bearers of these talents were born to use them to get to their point of greatness. Another Nigerian undergraduate only recently made Nigeria proud by clinching the spot of World Miss University Africa in far away South Korea. Your guess is right – Tobi Phillips was discovered at a social event competition on campus and the list is endless.
The fact remains that this trend has been a distraction for many undergraduate students who have nothing in common with talent hunt shows.  Perhaps, those in this category need be reminded that their primary responsibility on the campus still remains their academic work and full concentration must be given to this. Each one needs to know what his/her talent is and work diligently  towards developing same for their benefit other than blindly attending one campus event after another to the sore detriment of their studies. There is no worse path to frustration.