From Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
Dateline: Wednesday, July 20, 2016. As a journalist, I had just finished from an assignment at the Oyo State Secretariat, Ibadan, and returning home that evening when I came across a crowd reacting to the presence of a popular masquerade, Oloolu. They were shouting, “Oloolu is around! Oloolu is around!”
Then I saw the usual – women taking to their heels to avoid sighting or being sighted by the masquerade, as it is a taboo for women to see Oloolu.
This thus caught my attention to bring out my phone to capture the scene but behold there were these young boys of teen ages attempting to rob any passersby. These fiery teen thugs were followers of the Ibadan popular masquerade and they were ready to maim in order to get valuables from people they come across.
These thugs were in the habit of taken advantage of the commotion usually created by the Oloolu’s presence, to beat and rob unsuspecting persons.
I saw the usual violence and returned my phone to my pocket. But I still didn’t want the moment go without capturing it.
While looking for a safer place around to take the shots, the teen thugs charged towards me before I could make a move out of there. They were shouting, “bring that phone!”
I asked, “why should I give you my phone?” But that question infuriated them and they swooped on me, slapping and giving me deadly beating until I raised the alarm and police came to my rescue.
I almost passed out when I sighted policemen who came to my rescue. For few moments after police got me out of their clutches, some of them still continued hitting me with all manner of objects including what I suspect were charms.
This and many are stories of suspecting members of the public in the hands of these teen thugs who don’t want to go to school again but prefers menial jobs and criminal activities that can fetch them whooping amount of money.
According to findings, these teens started with little theft and graduating to pick pocketing and therefore advance to bigger crimes through influence of gangs in their communities.
According to the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) programme, there are over 300,000 out of school children in Oyo State. The coordinator of BESDA, Professor Jidado Tahiru made this known recently when he led a delegation from Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) on a courtesy visit to the state Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde.
At the visit, it was revealed that BESDA has facilitated $6 million grant for the State Government to tackle out of school children via a programme facilitated by the UBEC with the support of the World Bank to fund education in the state.
Meanwhile, investigation by LiveTimesNG revealed that there is moral decadence among these teens that making enrollment affordable for them through this financial intervention can’t bring many of them back to classrooms. Many of them especially in rural areas have joined bad gangs and this is usually traceable to bad parenting and endemic poverty in the society which make them leave their children to stray away because the parents can’t provide for them.
It was gathered that there is little or no motivations for these children to enroll in school; what they are really after is how to make money without requisite knowledge for themselves when parents cannot cater for them. For these children, what is paramount in their minds is how to make money and not schooling to salvage their bleak future.
Our reporter went to rural areas in Ibadan where these wayward children are mostly found. The finding took us to Ibadan North, Ibadan South East, Ibadan North East, Ibadan North West and other Local Government in the city. Many of these teens found nothing to do but engages in all forms of criminal activities to torment members of the public.
Our reporter got report of one Idris Kolawole, a teen who dropped out of school as a JSS 1 student in 2013 at Ode-Aje in Ibadan North East Local Government. It was gathered that Idris whose parents have separated was living with his mother and his elder sister but one day, he decided not to go to school again.
It was gathered that he relocated to Lagos where he reportedly became a thug. LiveTimesNG gathered that he one day traveled down to Ibadan as he was invited by his gang over a fight with a rival gang in Ode-Aje area of Ibadan. Reports revealed that Idris stabbed an apprentice tailor who was about to graduate from his apprenticeship with a poisonous knife. Idris according to reports actually mistook the tailor for one of his rival thug. The tailor reportedly died while Idris is presently serving jail term for murder offense.
LiveTimesNG investigation also unveil a secondary school boy in the same area. The boy confined to our reporter that he is no longer interested in going to school but prefers menial jobs. He decided to be carrying metals at a popular motor spare part market at Gate in Ibadan.
According to the boy, who LiveTimesNG will not want to mention, said he earns not less than N2000 or N3000 from helping the shop owners to carry metals from one location to the other. But what is most scaring was that one of the former classmates of this boy recently found gun on him telling them that some people kept it in his possession. The boy said to his friends”I am no more your mates, I have chopped up”.
The stories of these two out of school children show the alarming rate at which children especially teens are dropping out of school to opt for criminal activities and they are usually lured by elderly ones in their environment.
The teen thugs or street teenagers are composed of mostly of males, who roam the streets. They mostly found in gambling and loafing, pimping for Prostitutes, and picking pockets and mostly indulge in use of hard drugs.
They are usually seen extorting money from passers-by, public transporters and traders, sell illegal drugs, and perform other “odd jobs” in return for compensation. The Area boys are becoming growing menace on the streets of Ibadan and their menace are getting out of control and if government don’t stem the growing trend of crime among teens in Ibadan, it may become a time bomb which may consume all in the nearest future.