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Two tales of the girl child

Living in their Children’s shadows?

By Francis Ewherido

Last week, Nigeria took the world stage for all the right reasons. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, one of Nigeria’s finest, former minister of finance, former minister of foreign, former managing director of the World Bank and a fellow Deltan (let me also associate, others have been doing so for almost two weeks now), was confirmed as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

Her hitherto nemesis, Donald Trump, had been voted out in the US Presidential Election on November 3, 2020, and subsequently left office on January 20 this year. Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence is a triumph for the girl child and further emphasises the need to invest in the girl child to enable her realise her full potentials.

While Okonjo-Iweala was making waves for the right reasons, another girl child, Promise Idorenyin, was trending for all the wrong reasons. She was caught by her school principal in school with a locally-made pistol. She allegedly went to school with the pistol after her teacher asked her to cut her tainted hair. That was not all. She confessed that she was a cultist, a member of the Sky Queens Confraternity.

At 17, she is already sexually active and in fact was sexually active before 17. Of her boyfriend, Okon Effiong, 38, and father of six children from two women, she said: “My mother knows about him because he visits me at our house, and sometimes, he sleeps over at my place because I have my own room….”

The married boyfriend corroborates, “I started sleeping with her August last year, her mother knows me, I have been doing small something on her head. They know she is my wife.” That is how people marry wives, abi? By “doing small something” on their heads, mumu. He is publicly confessing to sleeping with a minor. May the words of our mouth not bring us destruction.

He went further, “I did not give her the gun; she took it herself where I kept it under the bed.” This is the bane of men: when a man gets an erection, his brain goes on recess. A full grown man shows a small girl, who should not be anywhere near a pistol, the deadly weapon and his lame excuse is that she took it herself. This lust-induced foolishness has ended careers, vocations, callings and lives abruptly; it is going to send this foolish man to jail if nothing else for illegal possession of firearms. That is just by the way. Our focus today is this girl child, a wayward girl child.

Can this girl still become an Okonjo-Iweala (a successful girl child)? A resounding yes, but the circumstances must change. She needs a change of environment. A mother who consents to a man to ravage her under-aged daughter and steal her future under her roof cannot bring up a potential Okonjo-Iweala.

Also, she must quit her cult group. I do not know how deadly this group is; some cult groups do go after members who leave the group. This is another reason why the needs a change of scene. Finally, she needs to be far away from her pedophile lover so that the sex abuse and exploitation can stop. He should be behind bars anyway if the law takes its course.

The Promise needs rehabilitation. Who is going to help? NGOs, government agencies, private individuals, who? She needs a mother-figure, who can help to repair what has been destroyed and restore what has been stolen from her, or at least a part of it. She needs a mother-figure, who can be role model, teacher, mentor, adviser, disciplinarian and much more.

I have not heard anything about her father since her story became public, but she can do with a father-figure also. There has been a monumental lack of leadership in her life. May be, that was why she resorted to cultism and a relationship with a much older man to fill the vacuum. She needs a father-figure to look up to, someone who enforces discipline and lives by example.

He needs a man who will make her see the dignity of womanhood, not like her lover who sees her as a sex object. She needs a father-figure, who will protect her and provide for her, not a man who asks for sex in return. She needs a father-figure (and a mother), who will show her the way of the Lord.

From a distance, you can see no one has played these roles in her life. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala and other woman, who have succeeded did not achieve success by magic. At the initial stages of their lives, their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts or some other persons, made sacrifices for them; they guided them, whipped them into line when they strayed; they were taught and mentored; they gave them a firm foundation on which they built the next stages of their lives.

The mother of Promise has no capacity to raise a successful girl child. How can a normal mother allow a father of six to be sleeping with her daughter? What if she gets pregnant? Has the man been able to care for his wife and six children?

These are of no interest to this mother because the man gives her “small something.” Even more shocking is the man coming to spend the night in her house and having sex with the girl with the knowledge of the woman. I have been looking out for rebuttal by the woman, but none so far.

If this was an isolated case, one would not be too bothered, but stories of lousy mothers abound. If you read stories of some of these girls, who were sexually abused by their biological fathers or other relatives, their mothers were aware. They preferred to rock their daughters’ futures rather than rock the family boat.

Some of them just couldn’t be bothered. After all, it is a girl child that is involved, not their precious son(s). I have seen a lot and I continue to see. Women (mothers) are a major hindrance to the liberation of the girl child. Even as I write, I know homes where the girl child continues to be second-class citizens.

External institutions alone did not make Okonji-Iweala and her likes; it started from the home. The home is the foundation. But this girl will likely be sent to a reformatory home by the court. How reformatory are these homes? If they are like the correctional centres (formerly called prisons), your guess is as good as mine.

I read about three cases of crime today (Wednesday) in the newspaper. All (armed robbery, kidnapping and homicide) were committed by ex-convicts. The situation brings to fore the need to make our reformatory homes reformatory enough. We cannot afford to allow them be like our correctional centres (prisons) because every minor, who goes in there deserves an opportunity and environment to realize her full potentials.

It would have been nice if she is taken to a proper home with couples who have parenting skills, but this is not going to come easy. Promise Idorenyin does have a promising future, she needs help.

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