Our Youths & Teenage Pregnancy!!

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

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, a well-known Nigerian broadcaster, journalist, political economist and development communication specialist sits on the Editorial Board of Aro News, a leading community news channel of the Aros, south east Nigeria. Orji writes its popular column “Amaikpe”.  
He is currently the Director of Communications and Advocacy at the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Presidency, Abuja. NEITI is the Nigerian chapter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international organization with 53 member countries which leads the global campaign for transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources in resource-rich countries around the world. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji was named NEITI's acting Executive Secretary/ceo in 2015, a position he held briefly until 2016.  
Dr. Orji represents NEITI on Nigeria’s National Steering Committee of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and chairs the extractive sector thematic group in the country’s OGP.  
Prior to his current job at NEITI, Dr. Orji was a special adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communication on Strategic Development Communication. Between 2004 and 2006, he worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a national consultant on public procurement reforms. At the UNDP, he worked with other development partners such as the World Bank and USAID on institutionalizing public procurement processes in Nigeria, by articulating a bill on public procurement for consideration and passage into law by the National Assembly. Following the passage of the Bill into law and establishment of the Bureau of Public Procurement on the June 4, 2007, Orji headed the media and public affairs department of the Bureau.
He served as Special Adviser to the President of the Senate at the National Assembly from 2000 to 2003. During this period, he provided technical support to develop the institutional framework on strategic media/civil society relations and engagements with the country’s legislature emerging from years of military rule.
His career in the media industry began at Radio Nigeria where he was groomed and worked in various capacities, rising through the ranks to the position of Deputy Director at the headquarters. The highest point of his career at Radio Nigeria was his posting to the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock (Nigeria’s seat of power) as the Chief State-House Correspondent, attached to Nigeria’s presidents. Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji served with courage and distinction during five different regimes, part of which were under the military from 1993 to 2000, when Nigeria returned to civil rule. The job at the Presidential villa took Orji on regular entourages of Nigerian Presidents to many countries of the world for the media-coverage of key global events, including several sessions of the United Nations' General Assembly in New York.
Orji Ogbonnaya Orji began his early life and education in 1970 at the Presbyterian School, Amanator Isu, Ohaozara in the then Afikpo Division. He attended Ishiagu High School Okigwe for his secondary education from 1975 and obtained his West African School Certificate from the school in 1980. He later proceeded to the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu where he graduated with a certificate in Mass communication in 1987. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Abuja, Nigeria in 1999, a master’s degree in political economy and development studies in 2004 and a PhD in the same discipline and from the same University in 2012.
He attended the Senior Executive Fellows program on public policy and communication at J.F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is also an alumnus of Blatvanik School of Government, University of Oxford, England, Thompson Foundation Institute of Advanced Media Studies Cardiff, United Kingdom, the International Law Institute, George Town University Washington DC, the Institute for Public and Private Partnership, Arlington Virginia, the World Bank Institute, the African Development Bank Institute, and the Lagos Business School. Furthermore, he is a recipient of professional fellowships from the US State Department and from the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji is married to Dr. (Mrs.) Esther Ogbonnaya with three children: Nnenna, Orji (Jr), and Chinatu.

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