By Femi Ogunshola
Critics insist that it is erroneous to appropriate Valentine’s Day as observance of improper sexual lifestyles or indecent behaviours among people.
“Can you be my Val, who is willing to be my Val, can I take you out on Val day? These are some of rampant suggestive utterances few days to Feb. 14 that most people are desperate to get response to during the observance of Valentine’s Day,’’ they note.
Although critics argue that many people have come to identify with Feb. 4 as true lovers day, the focus of the celebration has been shifted from showing perfect love to mankind thorough care giving, visitation and gifts to some unacceptable social practices.
In his view, Mr Samuel Akanbi, a marriage counselor in Abuja, expressed concern that Feb. 14 of every year has been set aside by some people to engage in immoral activities.
According to him, scores of people around the world have come to identify Valentine’s Day with a day to activate illicit love affairs without recourse to the purpose of the day.
“Valentine’s Day is also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine that originated as part of annual western Christian liturgy in honour of the late greater giver, Saint Valentine.’’
“The day first became associated with romantic love but later evolved into an occasion where lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards.
“However, in this age of social media, there have been threads of messages to show love and affection to savour the excitement of the day,’’ he recalled.
Similarly, Mr Chibuzor Okonkwo, an Information Communication Technology expert, noted Valentine’s Day observance had taken a new dimension with the social media.
He, nonetheless, expressed concern about the abuse of social media, especially as some young people sent nude pictures to each other and watched immoral film to flame up passion for illicit acts.
Expressing worry about the dimension of the celebration of the day among some Nigerians, Miss Damilola Oyekunbi, a civil servant in Abuja, said whereas originally, Valentine’s Day symbolised love and good intentions, some groups took the day as idol worshipping time.
“This practice negates ideal worship to God because the way people idolised the day is making it to appear as if they worship a god rather than the Almighty and God disapproves that.
“People are beginning to abuse the intent and meaning of Valentine’s Day; it is a misconception of the day that Valentine is meant to make love, celebrate immorality and drink; it should mean to show love, share gifts and give back to the society,’’ she said.
She said the purpose of the day ought to be to look after the less-privileged, the disadvantaged and the downtrodden.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Akeem Wahab, a business man in Abuja, said that Valentine’s Day had been taken for a time to go for fornication, adultery and when young could people exhibit their inordinate desires.
“People now celebrate their libido and the number of girls or boys they can sleep with rather than the purpose of sharing and giving gifts.
He expressed concern about a situation where the youth had turned the celebration of the day to massaging their ego; create violence, rivalry and abuse of others’ fundamental rights.
Irrespective of the misconception, Mrs Ahmed Usman, civil servant in Abuja, urged the public to follow a decent way of celebrating the day if they must do in spite of the current economic recession.
“Before now, Valentine’s Day used to be a season of offering gifts for the loved ones; you go out to buy the most expensive gifts you can afford to celebrate someone.
“They could be those that are so dear to your heart like you husband, wife or someone you intend to marry but situation in the country now is telling on doing all those things,’’ she said.
“But instead of this, some people today have turned the celebration to a time they exhibit their promiscuity and display their lustful desire by sleeping around.
“The purpose of the day seems to have been defeated by the show of shame and outright display of immorality among the youth,’’ she said.
Corroborating Usman’s view, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) said it would not celebrate Valentine’s Day as it used to do at the Unity Fountain Abuja with different youths across the Federal Capital Territory on Feb. 14 because of paucity of fund.
But NOA’s version of Valentine’s Day celebration is usually linked to a slogan “Do the right thing, fall in love with Nigeria’’ where scores of youths would gather to share the joy of the day.
Concerned citizens, therefore, note that the slogan “Do the right thing, fall in love with Nigeria,’’ should be encouraged and made popular as an advocacy part of celebrations such as Valentine’s Day.
They believe that celebrating observance days in a regulated and well organised environment through useful programmes and advocacy will change the erroneous mindsets of the public on certain developments.