At the closing ceremony of the sixth edition of the National Quranic Recitation Competition, in Sokoto, last week, the Sultan of Sokoto, Dr. Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, who is also the president of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, and thus, the leader of the Muslim umma in Nigeria, used the occasion to lament on what is becoming a great concern to most members of the society, especially parents and other members of the society who are charged with superintending over the moral health of the society and its youth.
On that occasion, the Sultan expressed concern at a development whereby the attention of our young people, especially students in the country is being diverted by their unrestrained and indiscriminate attachment to the social media.
The Sultan drew attention to what he said is “the disturbing development where the attention of students is being diverted from their studies through the use of various social media like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, 2Go and Instagram, among others.’’
The traditional ruler therefore urged the youths, particularly girls, to stop spending too much time on social media at the expense of other engagements that would add better values to their lives and to the wellbeing of the society.
Sultan Abubakar III who was miffed by “the rate at which girls are spending time on the social network saw the trend as worrisome as, according to him, “this poses an imminent danger to our society.” For him, “girls are the nerve-centre of our moral and societal development and if they derail, the whole society will be in danger because they are our mothers and caregivers.”
Abubakar advised parents to ensure that their daughters spend more time on meaningful things, like reciting the Holy Qur’an and on religious and morality-based books of their different faiths for those who are not Muslims.
”Doing so”, according to the eminent traditional ruler, “will make them better mothers and care-givers’’. The monarch also urged Muslims to desist from doing things that are capable of tarnishing the image of their religion.
From the widespread concerns exhibited and eyebrows being raised on the growing negative impact of the unchecked use of the social media by the youths who are the most impressionable members of the society, by all segments of the society and by governments, Sultan’s admonition struck an agreeable chord with most people in the society who share his concern.
In the last 20 years or so, the penetration and overwhelming influence of the Internet and the social media on the lifestyle of all the segments of the society, especially amongst the youthful members of the society have become so impactful that it has become an uphill task to control the exposure of the youth to the Internet and the social media.
While the Internet penetration has brought innumerable benefits for the overall development of all segments of the society, it has also, especially through the aspects of the social media, democratized vice, to the extent that all aspect of destructive social ills and anti- social activities have become available to anybody that can afford a cheap phone or other electronic devices. Because of the more attractive lure of the bad over the good, it is the immoral aspects of the social media that seem to be more attractive to the youthful minds in the society, hence the situation which has continued to attract our youths to pornography and other variants of immorality which foul up the minds and character of the young students.
As has also become usual with a section of the social media whose purveyors jump at every opportunity to attack the established authority, the well-meant observations of the Sultan has been criticized in some sections of the social media which clearly deviated from the import of the respected traditional ruler’s observation and claimed instead that the Sultan was criticizing the wish of girls to acquire modern education via the social media.
The use of the social media for mischief making like misrepresenting the Sultan in this case is one of the reasons why responsible members of the society have often sued for caution in the use of the social media which has become an all-comers’ thing.
Rather than the Sultan frowning at the education of girls, it is on record that apart from being a modern minded parent whose children, including daughters fall within the category whose morality the Sultan was trying to guide and protect, the institution over which he superintends, has the great respect for the education of the females. At different for a in and outside Nigeria, the Sultan has had to speak out for the education of the girl child. He has often said that the denial or curtailment of education which females are subjected to in some predominantly Islamic communities has nothing to do with the Islamic faith which he has often said, insists that everything should be done to educate females, even if it takes to go as far as China to achieve it.
Most modern-minded people of every faith should fully identify with the sentiments expressed by the Sultan of Sokoto over the growing tendency of the young people to abuse the social media and by so doing, run the risk of injuring the moral health of the society.
It is timely to call on all faith-based organizations, parents and guardians, as well as all those who are in loco parentis of these impressionable youths, to live up to their responsibilities by ensuring, through better oversight and supervision, that their children and wards acquire the habit of more responsible use of the social media by distilling the grain from the chaff in the Internet.
“The claim that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable is a false statement. The right of the people to determine their future is what is non-negotiable.”
– Prof. Wole Soyinka