Our Youths & Teenage Pregnancy!!

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Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, PhD

A mild drama happened recently in Aro. A woman in her late 60s was rejoicing home after baptism of her grandchild. Her teenage-daughter -mum, cluster of friends and relations shouted “uma moo!! Umaamooo!!!… as they marched home from the church.  The jubilant woman and her entourage were surprisingly blocked on their way by three ebullient young boys that alighted suddenly from a moving okada motor bike! The boys angrily accosted the jubilant woman and her delegation. Angrily the boys shouted in a combative voice“this child you are carrying and rejoicing, where is the father?

Tell us who is responsible? Who is the husband of your daughter?’’ On top of their voices, they turned to the young daughter mum ‘’who is your husband? Are you not ashamed?’’ They queried the young mum?  To the woman again, “As a parent, are you not ashamed that your daughter has a child outside wedlock? Shameful!!  Shame!! Shame!! Shame!!!’’, the three boys shouted loudly as they climbed their Okada and drove away.By the action of the “intruders”, the mood of the jubilant women were instantly fouled and their ego, injured. With that short drama, some crowd had gathered from on-lookers and passers-by. With the development, the woman, her teenage daughter, the cluster of friends and relations hurriedly walked home, thoroughly embarrassed.

The story and the encounter present the reality of the teenage pregnancy scourge or epidemic in Aro today. Amaikpe is indeed concerned that the syndrome is real, unusual but common in all the 19 villages with dire negative consequences.UNICEF defines teenage pregnancy as a girl-child that gets pregnant within the ages of 13 to 19 years. The definition also covers the girl-child that becomes pregnant before attaining legal adulthood which in Nigeria is pegged at 18 years. From the United Nations Report 50% of the World population fall under 25 years and 85% of the World population live in developing countries where there are poor access to quality education, health care, jobs, and basic infrastructure.

The report further asserts that 10% to 40% of young unmarried girls in least developed countries including Nigeria fall victims of unwanted pregnancy. This according to the report has resulted in a situation where over 14 million children globally are brought into the world by unprepared teenagers.  Teenage pregnancy does not just happen. It is caused. The cause is both immediate and remote. A recent study by UNICEF identified the causes of teenage pregnancy to include peer pressure, illiteracy or poor education, uncontrolled sexual behavior, rape. Other causes are poverty, and unemployment. The implication is that such children are usually fatherless, suffer from isolation and neglect, become potential tools for crime thereby posing great dangers to society.

In Aro, the customs and tradition strongly frown at pregnancy outside of wedlock.Against this background, the time for aggressive campaign against teenage pregnancy in Aro is now. A careful look at the dimension of the scourge shows that it is already assuming an alarming situation. The major concern is that parents and the community that ought to condemn this conduct are equally caught up with the conspiracy of silence. The campaign should target families, villages, town unions, churches, schools, etc. From house to house, neighbour to neighbour among our young girls in Aro and their boys as well. And no group is better positioned to lead this campaign that Nzuko Aro Women’s Wing.

As mothers, we cannot preach to the converted. They know what to do and consequences of failing to do them. Besides, as we dedicate this year’s Aro Day to celebrate the best of the best of Aro youths, the campaign against Teenage Pregnancy can also be championed by these role models, who have been identified as islands of excellence and positive influencers. The teenage pregnancy “epidemic ‘is a major community service, a voluntary, non –governmental project waiting for attention.  While congratulating all our Youths that have made Aro proud in their various professions, callings and vocations, we wish you a merry xmas and a happy new year.

About author

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji

Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji is a renowned journalist and well known broadcaster of repute in Nigeria. He is currently the Director, Communications at the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Presidency Abuja. He has held high ranking media and public communication appointments in Nigeria’s federal government. In 2009, he was appointed Special Adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communications, having earlier served as Special Adviser (media & public relations) to the President of the Senate at the National Assembly from 2000 to 2003. He was also Head of Media and public Affairs at the Bureau of Public Procurement at the Presidency, worked for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Abuja as communications consultant among others. A graduate of mass communication at the Institute of Management and Technology IMT Enugu, he attended the Institute of Advanced Media Studies Cardiff U.K. Orji holds a Bsc in political Science, Masters and Ph.D respectively in political economy and development studies from the University of Abuja. He is also a Senior Executive Fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School. For his contributions to the development of Aro, he is honored as Ikemba and remains in the National Executive Committee of Nzuko Aro as Chairman Political/ Government Relations. From Ugwuavor Village, Arochukwu, Orji is married with three children.

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