Emmanuel Balogun: What Has Happened to Our Youths?

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Emmanuel Balogun

POLSCOPE with Eddy Odivwri:

Ever since I read the story about the 17-year old young man, Emmanuel Aigbokhalelode Balogun, who drowned in a swimming pool, I have not been myself. Not so much because of the nature of the death, but the reason for the needless death.

Sometimes, I am tempted to believe religious aficionado who raise the threat of an impending Armageddon. It is often prefaced with the cliché: the world is coming to an end. And that all the bizarre tragedies we daily see happening around us and across the globe are end-time signs of the feared world end, when the world will be consumed and made void again. And there will be a new earth….

But before that happens, if it ever will, I am worried sore about the strange afflictions on humanity, especially our burgeoning youth in the country. The tons of frightening stories about them are as shocking as they are most wicked. A few months ago, it was the issue of young men stealing ladies’ pants for the purpose of using them for rituals that fetches magical money. They call it ‘Yahoo Plus’. All manners of weird things are done and perpetrated just to “blow” and live impressionistic life style.

It got so bad that most women stopped wearing pants. Don’t ask me how I knew.

Too many times, we hear of how maids or drivers or some casual domestic workers would strangle their employers—often old men or vulnerable ladies, and make away with their properties etc. One incident that happened in Ondo State was about a driver; who, after strangling the old man, his boss, dragged his body to the generator house in the fenced compound, and burnt him there, before escaping with the Honda CRV car of the boss. He gave himself away when he offered to sell the car for the paltry sum of N250,000 at Ijebu-Ode.

Back to the story of Emmanuel, it was said that he had gone for a party organized for freshers in University of Abuja. He went for the party with his friends. The party took place in Dome hotel downtown, Abuja.

According to the story, after the party, the four friends (Emmanuel and three others) decided to lounge by the pool side. Emmanuel had to pay N2,000 each for the three other friends to access the pool side. He bought them fish and juice and at a point he got into the pool to swim. The story added that at 3.33 am, the other friends noticed that Emmanuel was struggling in the pool. It was not clear if they too were swimming in the pool. One of them allegedly offered to go and rescue him, but was dissuaded from the gesture by the other two because he (Emmanuel) “was always doing shakara, because his parents are rich”, one said. Another friend argued that all the girls in the class were always doting after Emmanuel, so he should be left alone in his struggle. These are all young teenagers of 17/18 years old. At the end, Emmanuel  drowned, right under the nose of his three fiends masquerading as friends.

Worse still, after Emmanuel drowned, the trio waited for about 45 minutes, perhaps to ensure that he is irreversibly dead, before leaving the hotel, but not before they shared out Emmanuel’s properties. While one took his shoes, another searched Emmanuel’s trousers, took the money in it, and the other his handset. And they left. Instructively, they refused to inform the hotel management that someone had drowned.

It took some other female student two days after, to alert Emmanuel’s parents that something may have happened to their son.

Now some critical issues:

How come a party for freshers could last till that ungodly hour of 3.00 am? Who organized the party? Was it an all-night party?

Did Emmanuel previously know how to swim? Did his friends also swim that night?

Was he under the influence of alcohol?

Who brought the idea of going to the pool at such an hour?

Why would partying students decide to go swimming at 3.30 am?

Pray, where was the hotel’s Life Guard who should be at the pool 24/7?

 Didn’t the hotel have a personnel who monitors the CCTV? If yes, where was he/she while Emmanuel was struggling in the pool? If no, why not?

Emmanuel may have been buried, but the issues raised in his death are germane towards ensuring safety in public facilities. The hotel has a responsibility to its guests, especially on people from whom they had collected one form of fee or the other.

But above all, remains the issue of morality and values. The task goes back to parents. Many parents have long abdicated their duties and roles in bringing up their children in pursuit of banal concerns. Many parents literally do not know their children. In an age where proper parenting is contracted out to nannies and some foster characters, there is no longer any form of “Quality Control” on the children we raise. That explains why children are getting wild and vagrant, lacking in erstwhile cherished social values.

How could the mere fact of girls doting over a friend(?) become a reason to wish a friend dead? The same friend who paid for your access to a venue, bought you fish and juice…. Yet you’d rather he dies so he is out of the way. What a depraved mind!

Nigerians look forward to seeing what the police will do on this matter.

It is good that the three “bad boys” plus some concerned hotel staff have been arrested. But it would be better that  they are passed through the crucibles of justice. Yes, it will not bring back Emmanuel, but it will verily serve the end of justice, and perhaps deterrence to others.