Everyone appears to hate moral decadence but in Anambra State, aversion to declining values is not enough. The Army, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and a non-governmental organisation, Chaplain Corps Policing Explorers (CHAPOL) are fighting the monster which is threatening everything from the home to schools, offices and governance.
The onslaught looked formidable at the Prof Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre in Awka, the state capital, where CHAPOL and the Post Primary Schools Service Commission (PPSSC) organised a forum to tackle loss of values.
The turn-up was huge, with five pupils representing each of the 256 secondary schools in the state. Teachers listened attentively as the various speakers made their presentations.
It was the third annual conference on moral values for students from government secondary schools in the state organised by CHAPOL and PPSSC. The aim is to tackle moral decadence and help rebuild what seems to be a broken society where merit and integrity have taken the back seat and cult groups threaten to shut down schools.
The exercise was first organised on July 27, 2012 with 12 pilot schools spread across the six education zones in the state, namely; Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi, Aguata, Ogidi and Otuocha.
The state commandant of CHAPOL, Joseph Ekwunife told The Nation that the reason for such initiative was to reduce moral decadence that had eaten deep in schools in the state.
The state commissioner for Education, Prof Kate Omenugha, Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to Governor Willie Obiano on secondary school education, Dr. Paul Ifeanyi attended the conference.
Others who attended included members of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the military and state commandants of CHAPOL from Imo, Rivers, Cross River, Awka-Ibom, Delta states.
Wife of Anambra State governor, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano was represented by Lady Ify Atuogu, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Southeast, Prof David Ebelechukwu.
In his lecture entitled ‘How Do I Overcome Moral Decadence’, Capt. Saheed Shittu, officer in-charge of 302 Military Cantonment, Onitsha, said the only way moral decadence could be checked is desisting from promoting bad life in the society.
He said it is unfortunate that secondary schools where the children are supposed to learn good behaviours, have become a breeding ground for all sorts of vices including cultism.
Shittu noted that there are 46 secret cult groups in the country’s schools, adding that another way of curbing moral decadence in schools is for government to equip schools adequately.
However, he equally advocated that a dress code should be introduced in higher institutions in the country to curtail some of the excesses of students.
He added that negative movies, indiscriminate copying of European cultures by the students have not helped matters either.
Governor Obiano’s Senior Special Adviser on Secondary Schools, Dr. Paul Ifeanyi said a state of emergency should be declared on moral decadence in the country.
“The society is bedeviled with social, political and religious crimes because of moral decadence, corruption has become the order of the day, children are now walking naked along the streets in the name of fashion.”
Ifeanyi also had some strong words for some parents especially some mothers who, according to him, have failed to lead by example.
He added that that some of these parents use such loose words as ‘sexy’ to describe the skimpy dresses their daughters wear.
He said that the major thing to curb the menace in schools is for re-orientation to take place.
The chairman of the occasion, Bishop Emma Obiorah of Life of Faith Gospel Assembly, called for the parents to take full responsibility of their children’s moral development by talking to them about the evil consequences of immorality.
“Our teachers, please let’s go beyond academic exercise and salary, let our teachers be fully concerned about the behaviour and character of the students because the work of a teacher is to develop his or her students academically and in character.”
“For our government and agencies, let us devise a more practical means and system that will have direct influence on the moral vanity and values of our children in schools.”
“Let the governments know that the future of our society is in danger if our young people are bedeviled by moral bankruptcy and this is also where the religious leaders and churches come in to save the society.
“The issue of moral depravity in schools calls for the concern of parents, teachers, governments and whoever can be referred to as stakeholder in the education sector.”
“It is not only the standard of education that has fallen but also, the moral values in schools.”
“We have heard cases of cultism in schools, this is no longer restricted to the universities and other tertiary institutions, it has spread to secondary and primary schools in the country.”
Speaking with The Nation, the state commandant of (CHAPOL), Joseph Ekwunife, commended Obiano and the state commissioner for education, Prof Kate Omenugha for the various innovations they had brought in the education system in the state.
He said CHAPOL went a step further by paying the school fees of some indigent students in these zones, but lamented lack of funds for the hindrance in carrying out some of its programmes.
Also, Ekwunife told The Nation that the group will pay school fees of eight best students from these zones for one full year, who excelled during the just concluded Junior Secondary Schools WAEC examinations.
He said, “Our aim is to encourage reading habit among the students, as no one passes his or her exams without proper study, this will also discourage those students who scramble for private centres during such examinations,” the commander said.
The state Education Commissioner, Prof Kate Omenugha, said that it was because of the moral decadence that the Obiano administration had introduced many policies in the education sector.
She said until all these things were got right that the state government would not rest on its oars, adding that before the end of Obiano’s tenure, that the state would be the first in all academic activities in the country. Omenugha, therefore, commended CHAPOL and PPSSC for coming up with such wonderful idea, adding that the Obiano administration would always support good innovations.