At the tender age of seventeen, Eniola Opeyemi found herself grappling with an unexpected revelation – she was carrying a life within her.
This revelation plunged her into a sea of confusion as she pondered the uncertain path ahead.
The announcement of her impending motherhood was met not with joy, but with shock and disappointment from her family and friends. In their eyes, she had always been a shining star, brimming with potential and promise.
Eniola had harbored lofty aspirations of pursuing higher education, traversing the globe, and carving out a triumphant career for herself. However, these aspirations now hung in the balance, overshadowed by the daunting prospect of parenthood.
As the sands of time flowed, three months passed, and Eniola grappled with the physical and emotional tribulations that pregnancy brought.
With a heavy heart, her parents made the tough decision to send her to the father of her unborn child, a twenty-year-old young man. Thus, Eniola found herself in the confines of her husband's home, where the challenges of limited resources loomed large.
In this altered reality, she was compelled to not only nurture the life growing within her but also confront the pressing demand of her apprentice husband, who now insisted that she contribute to their shared journey towards providing for their unborn child.
According to a , early marriage (EM) and adolescent pregnancy (AP) form severe risks for women’s somatic, mental, and reproductive health, as well as on educational and social status.
According to a World Bank , Insufficient access to quality education, disparities in opportunities, and limited autonomy in shaping their life paths place young girls at an elevated vulnerability to early pregnancy and motherhood, stating that the situation is linked to diminished prospects for education, economic advancement, and employment.
Opeyemi was one out of these women, who got pregnant in 2020 at the Senior Secondary School, class one (SSS1). Being a single mother with limited resources, she remained determined to provide a better life for herself and her child, untill she got another pregnant at 19-year-old, two years after.
"When I was impregnated in 2020, my parents said they have nothing to do with my education, and also my apprentice work. I was told that my husband would continue taking the responsibilities — my mother said 'your husband will henceforth be responsible for all your needs', she said, trying to wipe the tears rolling down her cheek.
"I should have started working, but because of the pregnancy, I was neglected, get no financial support from her parents, except to her husband, who only catered for the family.
According to her, thrift turned out to be the only apt, since her husband was not man enough to sponsor her business, apprenticeship and family fees. "He is only struggling," she said.
Teenage Pregnancy persist in Nigeria
Teenage pregnancy is a growing concern in Nigeria, and its societal impacts are significant.
Research from the "Demographic and Health Survey 2013" that 23 percent of Nigerian women aged 15-19 have already started childbearing, with 17 percent having their first child and 5 percent currently pregnant with their first child.
Notably, rural areas a higher prevalence, with 32 percent of rural teenagers beginning childbearing, compared to 10 percent in urban areas. This trend varies across regions, with the Northwest (36 percent) and Northeast (32 percent) having the highest rates.
Nigeria, as one of the most populous countries with over 200 people, faces a substantial challenge due to its large youth population, contributing to the high incidence of teenage pregnancy. Several risk factors, such as inadequate sexual and reproductive health education, sexual assault, social media influence, and peer pressure, are associated with this issue.
Teenage Pregnancy: A cause to reckon with in Ada
In Ada, Osun State, teenage pregnancy has been a long-standing issue, with 50 out of 100 teenagers aged 12-17 becoming pregnant annually.
Factors include parental neglect, peer pressure, and a lack of sex education awareness, particularly in rural areas.
Osun State's Commissioner for Health, Dr. Rafiu Issamotu, the need for awareness and proper parenting to address this concern.
Parents nonchalant attitudes fuel matter
Olopade Ajoke, a 20-year-old, is two months pregnant but hesitates to inform her parents in Ghana due to the distance between them. She fears her father's reaction and how it might affect her education.
Ajoke had initially planned to further her tertiary education in Togo but had to change her plans upon discovering her pregnancy. Despite her family's wealth, she wasn't enticed by monetary offers from others and was content with her opportunities. However, fate has led to her teenage pregnancy.
"My parents are rich and I'm the last child, they plan to send me to Togo to further my education, but since I've gotten pregnant I'm not sure that will be possible, because my father is very strict and is not aware at the moment.'
Another teenager, Jumoke, aged 13, who recently became a mother, shared her challenging experience. She revealed that she's facing the consequences of her actions, including discontinuing her education. Jumoke had to leave school during her JSS1 year after her pregnancy became known.
Similarly, Ojo Taiwo, an 18-year-old victim, disclosed that she was in SS3 when she became pregnant. She experienced depression after her pregnancy was discovered."I was about to finish my Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, SSCE, when she discovered it," she said.
"I'm now learning work but the hope to return to school is destroyed because my parents said they are off my school plan"
Bad Upbringing contribute to this woes- Parents
A trader in Ada, Olanrewaju Temitope, noted that teenage pregnancy is often due to poor parental upbringing. 'Some parents encourage their children to get boyfriends to ease their financial burden.'"
'In my short time here, I've witnessed concerning situations. For instance, one woman sends her daughter to school without giving her money, forcing her to rely on boys for financial support.'"
Temitope also addressed parental negligence, saying, "Some parents even provide contraception advice and teach their children to use a 'ringing tone' during sex. Parents need to provide for their children's needs, especially daughters."
"Parents hold the key to this issue. They should hide their wrongdoing and strive to meet their daughters' needs as best as they can. Money has corrupted society. Some parents who become pregnant halt their education, preventing them from achieving their future goals, and neglecting their responsibilities."
Temitope further blamed some secondary school teachers for negligence, stating, "Public schools lack guidance; some students only attend to mark attendance and then leave."
Similarly, Adebayo Feranmi attributed the problem to children's lack of contentment. She explained, "Peer pressure is another factor, as friends may lure them into early sexual activity."
"It's caused by a lack of contentment, especially in this Ada community. Parents should guide their children rather than criticizing them without providing proper advice. Even if friends influence them, parents' words should guide them."
Regarding the consequences of teenage pregnancy, Mrs. Feranmi said, "Children can't properly raise children due to their lack of training and education. Neglected children may become wayward, and even those not living with their partners may struggle to provide for their child, hindering their future prospects."
"If this happens, parents should reflect on their mistakes. After their daughter gives birth, they should support her and the child so she can continue her education or pursue her goals. They should offer advice, but not force her, as some girls may leave school to be with boys."
However, a concerned resident of Ada, Olagunju Yetunde, emphasized the importance of proper parental monitoring. "Many parents fail to monitor their children adequately, allowing room for friends to influence them."
"Parents need to be vigilant, not provide money without questioning its source, and care about their children's education. Some 18-year-old girls have multiple children due to parental neglect over minor mistakes."
"I attended a program where a 14-year-old girl joined a meeting for pregnant women. It's challenging to raise female children; they need proper care to receive commendation for your efforts."
Needs for sex education, experts Wade in
Mrs. Babalola Elizabeth, a health technician at Aralade Maternity in Ada, emphasized that teenage pregnancy can result in Cesarean Sections, preventing teenagers from delivering naturally."
She identified parental negligence as a primary cause, stating, "The cause of teenage pregnancy in this area is primarily due to improper care and lack of parental guidance. Some teenagers succumb to peer pressure, while others face financial challenges because their parents don't provide necessary support. Parents should prioritize their children's education, even considering apprenticeships for those uninterested in formal schooling."