This is one piece very difficult to write and when I face this kind of situation, which has become a lifestyle, I get on my knees, calling on the Rock higher than I. Permit me to confess therefore that I do not write this from my seat…I soberly write it from my knees on this LORD’s Day.
Years ago, I voluntarily retired from being a judge in the affairs of fellow human beings, no matter how terrible their error may appear. I understood that to throw the first stone, you must be without sin. Since, I am yet to attain such status of total freedom from the ‘plague’ of human foibles, my heart and conscience instructed me to sheath my razor-sharp sword of judgment.
Today, with a very heavy heart, I write about the Orekoya 3, Aderomola (11 months), Adedamola (4 years) and Demola (6 years), the precious children of Adebisi and Leke Orekoya, allegedly kidnapped by a certain Mary Akinloye within 24 hours of being hired as a nanny. She was said to have been hired on the Tuesday, April 7, 2014 and kidnapped the children on Wednesday, April 8, 2015.
Facts according to Mrs. Orekoya further reveals as follows: ‘we had someone who was taking care of the kids before now. But the woman did not show up on Saturday and Sunday and we urgently needed someone to assist because we were going to resume work on Monday. We were disturbed and that was why I posted the information on OLX.’ She continues, ‘she (Akinloye) called us and said she was interested. She said she was 23 years. I agreed to employ her in the interim because I really did not like the fact that she was young. She agreed to collect between N10, 000 to N15, 000 even though our former nanny collected N25, 000. “Mrs Orekoya concluded, ‘I left her at home this morning (Wednesday) around 7.30am. It was around 1pm that my eldest son called me and said she had taken his siblings away. He said she told him they were going out to buy some things. She took the 11 months on her back and held the others by the hand. She has since not returned.’ It has now being reported that the kidnappers made an initial offer of N15, 000,000.00(fifteen million Naira) as ransom, which has now been negotiated to N13, 000,000.00(thirteen million Naira).
I will like to share my comments on this painful case, which I am persuaded will end in the favour of these innocent and precious children. First, who am I to comment? Well, I think I derive my locus standi to comment from my passion and commitment to the welfare of children, which has spanned a period of over 18 (eighteen) years. I guess that is why many people have sought to know my opinion since this sad news broke. Why do I comment? This is easier for me to address. I believe that events, good or bad, which we call history, happen for our examples. According to George Bernard Shaw, ‘we can learn from history that we seem to learn nothing from history.’ I think the main reason way we do not learn from history is that in most cases we do not deliberately exercise the patience and wisdom to squeeze out of history the oil of lessons and use same to lubricate our senses in the face of life daunting challenges.
My conscience-imposed mandate here today is to draw lessons, making professional comments on this matter as follows:
1. Let us pray: in times like this when the physical realm seem to be bereft of tangible solution, we bend our knees to God, who is most merciful and gracious to intervene because we know He has a stake in the lives of these innocent and precious children. I am persuaded, He has answered our prayer with concerning the returns of these children.
2. Let us empathize: we must empathize with the Orekoyas. One thing is not easy and it is raising children in the Third World, where the State as represented our governments, who should be the largest social service providers in a nation seems to have forgotten that the welfare and the security of the people shall be the primary aims of Government. There is no soft landing for citizens in meeting economic needs and this is a recipe for engaging in a rat race of survival. The state of our nation leaves parents with nothing but hard choices. People have criticized the Orekoyas for hiring a nanny from OLX, an internet marketing platform, while I plan to comment on this latter, permit me to say that I do not believe they have any preconceived intention to harm their children when they placed an advert on OLX. I believe they were simply not at home with the reality of the consequences of their action or omission. Negligence must always be differentiated from wickedness. The reason why negligence and wickedness are often confused for each other is that they sometimes share same traits of actions and achieve same results.
3. Let us face the brutal facts: the first fact is that as informed citizens of this country, the state of the nation or irresponsibility of government and its agencies must no more be an excuse for neglecting our children. Today, as parents, we do not have time for our children. We cite as our commonest excuse the state of the nation. We justify ourselves with the fact that we need to eke a living to care for our families. The situation is worse today when husband and wife cite the state of our economy as the reason why couples must work to be able to support the family. These arguments have become so legitimate that it has received, almost from all quarters of society to strong seal of acceptance. But the real issue, being left unattended to is to consider whether our legitimization of our pursuit of economic gains changes the fact that our children are without protection and are therefore exposed to colossal danger. Thus cases like the Orekoyas have become very rampant these days that they are fast losing any special attention. In fact that was my initial response when the news broke. I felt it is not different. It is now common.
This Third World Reality or tragedy has been with since our flag independence. I was born March 24, 1970 and by 1979, nine years into childhood, I started hearing about Shagari’s Austerity Measures and later in 1985, I began to hear about Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). Our understanding of the foregoing should to lead to asking ourselves, the first brutal question, must I have children? If I answer that in the affirmative, how many can I have? What is my plan for the upbringing of the children I plan to bring to this world? Who takes care of them and what is the price to pay. I believe that these are questions many of us do not ask today before we venture into the costly venture of breeding children. If we ask these questions, the true state of our tragedy as Third Worlder will be very clear to us. Maybe, we will understand better that when a nation fails to provide for the welfare and the security of its citizens, it does not only put their lives in the gear of stagnation but also a reverse gear. Maybe we will fight harder for a space in the system.
4. Let us talk real Child Protection: at the beginning of the year 2015, we launched a campaign called, Child Protection Intelligence Movement (i-Protect™). We declared without fear that ‘Child Protection Answers to Nothing But iNTELLIGENCE.’ We declared as the crux of the campaign, ‘to teach The intelligence of Child Protection: LEARNING the INEVITABLE and BASIC PRINCIPLES of CHILD PROTECTION as Primary and Secondary Caregivers; PROFILING Abusers, DETECTING Red Flags, PREVENTING and RESPONDING to all forms Abuses (Physical, Sexual, Emotional and Neglect.’ We submitted as our candid Priceless Discovery that ‘18 years of field experience as Child Protection Practitioners and Thinkers and over $500,000.00 expended as Researchers, it is our informed finding that The DEVIL of child abuse is in the DETAILS, which primary and secondary caregiver NEGLECT; INTELLIGENCE EXCLUSIVELY HOLDS the key to the DETAILS. We insist with all candors that the right question is not whether children are protected under our care or not? The right question is whether or not we as primary and secondary caregivers possess the inevitable intelligence of Child Protection (i-Protect). Without the intelligence of Child Protection (i-Protect), the children under our care are without any form of Protection from all forms of abuse and abuser.
Permit me to submit that the kidnapping of the Orekoya 3 is avoidable. Also note that it must never be classified as an act of God. It is not at all. It is an act of negligence, which God is able to make to work together for the good of the family and the children. It is a pure case of negligence traceable to lack of Child Protection Intelligence. I call it acute deficiency in Child Protection Intelligence Quotient of the parents. First, they recruited under pressure. Mrs. Orekoya said that their nanny did not show up on Saturday and Sunday and she and her husband needed to go to work on Monday. Therefore she saw as her only option, trusting her precious children with a stranger. In the words of Olakunle Soriyan, a stranger is any one you cannot vouch for. Now, intelligence would have told her that her that no matter the situation, leaving her children with a stark strange is not an option at all. With intelligence firmly in the saddle, she would have thought about her options, which may include finding a friend to keep the children with, calling her office that she needed to respond to a family emergency and initiate the process for casual leave, show up at work with the children and seek the understanding of her direct boss to have them at work with her, worst case scenario, quit her job. As these options are open to Mrs. Orekoya, so are they open to the husband too.
Intelligence does not look for an easy way out. Intelligence looks for the way out, ready for the responsibility of paying the cost. The operating system of intelligence, as we have continued to tell primary and secondary caregivers, is what we have tagged, ‘Hard Choices (HC).’ The foregoing options constitute hard choices in an hierarchical order. But it would have been easy for them to consider if they understand that HC answers to proper definition their priorities. This is another major issue, as parents, many of us do not define our priorities right or we do not understand how to measure our true priorities. We do not understand that once, you decide to have a family and have children, your family becomes your number one priority. I think that is the real meaning of the phrase we use when we want to start a family or when we are being enjoined by relatives and close friend to start a family. We normally say or we are told, ‘to settle down.’ Our priorities are measured by three components, first, on what do we expend most of our time? Second, to what to we devote most of our energy? Lastly, what entity qualifies for and receives our highest sacrifice?
As hard as the choices we make on the side of intelligence may be, I dare to submit that they are less expensive than easy choices. Consider the case at hand now, the trauma the children are going through now, which has eternal impact except there is divine intervention; the trauma the parents are going through right now. It is important to note that the least of the cost is the N15, 000,000.00(fifteen million naira) being demanded as ransom by the ring of kidnappers.
Many have picked, particularly on the fact that the family hired the nanny from OLX. While that may be reprehensible but I do not think that is the real issue. I think the real issue is that family vouched for a stranger with the lives of their priceless and precious children. They failed to commit to due diligence. Due diligence takes quality time and it dismantles into irreparable pieces the forces of deception, in which ever form they assembly and no matter impenetrable they may think.
5. A call to Action: Cases like the Orekoya’s have happened so often across the country that they must draw more meaningful attention from concerned citizens than a campaign for the release of the children or gracing our Blackberry Displayed Pictures (DP) and our accounts on the social media platform with the pictures of the children, their families and the nannies. We must be interested in using this case as a springboard for an enlightenment campaign, aimed at making sure this kind of cheap kidnap does not happen under our watch again. I think cases of child abuse, bothering on neglect and abandonment must be properly defined in our laws, even in their most subtle forms and dealt with properly by the state. Precedence of state intervention must create deterrence. We must campaign for our social support system to be strengthened for temporary custody of children, where the parents are found wanting the area of child neglect and abandonment. Above all, we must agitate that the welfare and the security of the people must become the primary aim of government.
I will like to round up this intervention with the words of Charles Stanley, ‘In giving us children, God places us in a position of both leadership and service. He calls us to give up our lives for someone else’s sake – to abandon our own desires and put our child’s interests first. Yet, according to His perfect design, it is through this selflessness that we can become truly fulfilled.’
Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…
Taiwo Akinlami Sober on his knees on the LORD’s Day.