Thursday, 10 December 2009
The Ladies are Nudist So What?
By Kayode Ogundamisi
Early in the year the Lagos state environmental task force, carried out what it described as a “carefully planned and very well executed raid” on private clubs that were said to be “carrying out immoral acts” such as girls performing “nude dancing”. It is the responsibility of any government to make sure that clubs and entertainment centres operate within the confines of the law and a responsible government will also keep an eye on such clubs to make sure they do not engage the services of the underage, minors or ladies who are forced to perform without their consent.
However the recent invasion of clubs by the Lagos government officials in a Rambo style manner is very unbecoming of a state whose governor is arguably one of the best performing public official Nigeria as ever witnessed in recent times. The way they subjected those young Nigerian women, to series of humiliation, by photographing them openly and making such available to the press almost naked is a violation of the rights of the citizens. If the officials involved in the raid must display the “captives” can’t they give them the choice of having their clothes on?
There is need for the government to check the excesses of the Lagos State Environmental task force, that agency is more or less now behaving like a “moral soldier” meant to dictate to private citizens, on what move they should view, which club they must visit, what colour they must paint houses and what manner of apparels ladies must wear.
The raid before last week’s by the very same official did not produce any conviction except the sensation it got in the media. Sadly, the media worldwide seem to enjoy the public humiliation of the female body type, it is apparent those found to be “poll dancing” where men the photographs would not have been of public interest, thus we must stop the obscene chauvinistic tendency that is taking root in our society.
In as much as Lagos has been doing well so far, we cannot and must not keep quiet when some officials are out of line and literally wrapped up in misconduct. The emergence of ostentatious clubs, “yachts’” and other elitist play toys are contentious by-products of a city that prides itself in its pro-active mechanism of governance. If we do not cautiously ensure that a healthy balance is maintained at all times some overzealous officials will pretty soon start dictating to Nigerians on the shape, size and complexion of the partner they must date or marry - could get that ridiculous!
Under the nose of our so called “moral police” young Nigerian ladies who are incessantly challenged with forced long holidays due to the neglect of the educational sector and strikes by both academic and non academic staffs engage in misdemeanors to while away time or simply survive. High and low class prostitution thrive unchallenged in the streets of well lit reserved areas of Lagos and the men who can patronize these girls are definitely high net worth individuals in government and the private sector.
The irony rests in the act that it is the same Nigerian public officials who patronise these same clubs, have we not heard stories of girls pimping for commissioners, governors, directors, ministers and all in our various campuses? At least it is public knowledge that some public officials in Nigeria patronise these same clubs that are tagged immoral when on official assignment outside Nigeria . If the story of the “India Apple” is to be believed, then we all know that Aso Rock unofficially kept prostitutes in the dying days of Sanni Abacha.
Besides what alternatives are available to these erring young people? What choice do they have? The male students go delinquent and violent, venturing into kidnapping or just simply spend days in cyber cafés to look for an unlucky “mugu” that they can scam. Can’t the government see that we have let down our youths and tackle the problem from the basics? What infrastructures have been put in place to productively engage young people and empower them to live meaningful lives? Fact remains that an idle mind remains the devil’s favourite workshop and when that idleness is compounded with poverty there is no limit to what can go wrong.
The entertainment industry remains a sucour for young people all over the world. Impoverished young men and women are being transformed to millionaires, doing good work. If the government could partner more people in the entertainment industry to create a safe and conducive environment for the industry to grow in Nigeria and also serve as an alternative source of leisure and excitement in a nation bereft of social infrastructure, the nude clubs will die a natural death.
Moreover, are these social issues not as a result of more serious concerns in Nigeria ? With a sleeping president, law makers who cannot point out the difference between red and orange? Fast growing religious empires without a corresponding upright following? Collapsed infrastructure such as energy, road, aviation, policing, law and order and a charade called ICPC and other so called anti corruption agencies?
Women groups, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups should please mobilize and come to the aid of our youths, bring to justice those involved in the violation of the rights of young Nigerian in all ramifications and urgently assist in the rehabilitation of those who may have been forced to take up indecent lifestyles to survive the crunch of today’s Nigeria.
They also must impress on the officials of the Lagos State government that treating nude dancing as an outright criminal issue is contentious because there is a greater sense in dealing with it as a moral issue. If it is crucial for the lagos state government to eradicate it then the better option might be to regulate the activities of clubs by engaging the proprietors, putting acceptable norms in place and regularly inspecting the clubs to make sure they are not operating contrary to stipulated rules.
Unfortunately, religious leaders are jumping into the bandwagon of sitting in judgement over the ladies! Rather, they should put their money where their mouths are and check the corruption going on in their own organisations, or call to order government officials who have front row seats in their church and mosques and also impress on them the desperate need for them to deliver good governance. A failed society is the society where those who should speak out only speak out when it is popular to speak.
Kayode Ogundamisi is a commentator on Nigerian and international affairs, he was involved in the Nigerian pro-democracy struggle, Ogundamisi survived a trumped up charge of treasonable offence against the military government of General Babangida, he was detained in Jos prison in 1991 and released after intensive local and international campaigns against the government charging him and 12 other students before a military tribunal. Ogundamisi was a frontline member of the National Association of Nigerian Student and a former secretary general of the the University of Jos Students Union in Nigeria and the O'dua Peoples Congress.