We most times make haste to point accusing fingers at members of the political class as being solely responsible for all the troubles that ail us as a nation. We see them as the only enemies that must be named, shamed and completely exorcized for Nigeria to take her pride of place in the comity of serious nations. “Politicians are wicked, politicians are corrupt, politicians are thieves, politicians are Nigeria’s enemies” are some popular catchphrases often chorused by Nigerians during formal or informal discussions.
While this is in no way an attempt to absolve the political elites of any wrongdoing, an impossible thing to do considering the grand malfeasance they engage in while in office, but passing a fatwa on them as the only bad eggs in today’s Nigeria is to simply commonize or trivialise the intensity of the malaise that has become our lot. The situation is scarier, messier and calamitous than we think.
That the Nigeria of today is sick and requires urgent surgical attention is to state the obvious. In fact, politicians are the least of the issues troubling us at the moment. Methinks, most disturbing is the gradual wearing-off of our core moral values which are our essence as living beings. What happened to our once cherished societal norms and values which guided our conducts, interactions and public engagements? We are daily contributing to the mess that our dear country is becoming. Both the young and old, literate and illiterate, partisan and non-partisan, men and women are all culpable in this instance.
Frankly speaking, what ails us as a people has long been diagnosed. We know what the problems are. In fact, the solutions are everywhere, but the will to address these problems head-on remains the missing link.
The trouble confronting us today is not unconnected with the collapse of our value system. Those pristine values of excellence, hard work, honesty, discipline, accountability, integrity and patriotism have been relegated to the background. We no longer see anything wrong in engaging in vices that we once frowned against as a people. The society, parents, guardians and moral instructors have failed in their responsibility of raising and nurturing great future leaders. The family system has lost touch with her core responsibility of instilling the right behaviours in their children. Parents, in chase of money and material acquisitions hardly have time for their children. They now recruit and pay nannies and house-helps to attend to their kids while they pursue their careers. The consequences of these actions are quite dire on the society. Little wonder we read and hear about kids being raped, assaulted and kidnapped by their caregivers.
Ordinarily, our educational institutions which should be the centres for inculcating sound moral values in our children are not in any way different. School operators are more interested in charging exorbitant tuitions than meeting the educational, spiritual and knowledge demands of students in their care. I learnt we now have cult groups even in our primary schools! This is quite scary. Parents now collude with examination officers to award unmerited grades and marks to their children in final examinations. Parents no longer encourage their kids to read their books. Academic excellence is no longer a question of how brilliant you are, but how deep your pocket is to procure grades.
Our tertiary institutions have become breeding grounds for fraudsters, prostitutes, academic cheats, drug addicts and cultists who go about their activities unchallenged. Lecturers openly demand for money and sexual gratification from their students in order to pass them in examinations. A recent case was the one that played out at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state where a certain Professor Richard Akindele was caught in a sex-for-marks audio conversation/negotiation with his student, Monica Osagie. Several of such cases are daily reported on our campuses.
What about civil servants who demand for bribe from contractors before processing their files? What about a Chief Executive who only recruits people from his tribe, religion or ethnic stock into his establishments? What about the security man who mounts illegal roadblocks to extort money from road users? What about a pump attendant in a filling station who criminally adjusts fuel metres? What about PHCN officials who send outrageous electricity bills for energy not supplied? What about private security men working in banks, eateries and malls who have become beggars? What about our religious leaders who dish out fake prophesies and in turn demand for money? What about NGO operators who divert funds meant for people-based project into their businesses? What about a traditional ruler who colludes with government officials to short-change his community? What about the mechanic who fixes substandard parts after collecting huge sum from a car owner? What about young people who are daily fanning the ember of war on the social media?
The truth is, we are daily hurting our country through some of our inappropriate actions and inactions. We may think those ‘little things’ we do or say are not big enough to destroy our country in one fell swoop, but they weaken our very foundation.
We are in dire need of moral regeneration and national rebirth. No nation attains greatness by accident or mere wishful thinking. Citizens are the tools with which nations are coupled. For Nigeria to grow and realize her full potential, citizens must imbibe and inculcate development-driven practices.
Mr Yunusa can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org