61st Independence Anniversary: Correcting Nigeria’s Anomalies With Moral Values By Biodun Busari
As Nigeria celebrates its 61st Independence Day today, speeches, conferences, protests, prayers and other public events will be held in search of a better country. But one thing is undeniably wrong with this nation, Nigeria is steeped in attitude corruption and moral decadence. It is perfectly evident that we are morally flawed as a people, and the sad part is that we do not acknowledge this.
Morals by a simple definition are all the principles of right and wrong behavior that define an ideal man in society. The moral aspect of one’s life affects one’s attitude towards everything.
Talking about attitudes is a fixed way of thinking or feeling about something. When the judgment is balanced, the attitude will be fair. In short, when a person is morally righteous, such a person’s demeanor is undeniable. But as for this country, the moral deficit has taken the lion’s share. All of our national hardships and institutional disasters can be traced back to our lack of attitude.
Today, as always in the past sixty years, our national discourse on the flawed amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates by the British colonialist Lord Frederick Lugard, who founded Nigeria in 1914, is amid other historical mistakes made by our ancestors and contemporary politicians from 1960 onwards.
Needless to say, Nigeria is plagued by security challenges such as terrorism, banditry, police brutality and bribery and corruption, nepotism and tribalism, poor economy, underfunding of education, poor electricity, pathetic roads and hospitals, unemployment, poor governance, the list is endless. The regrettable thing about these challenges is that we keep postulating solutions, but there are no tangible results.
Well, the disheartening story is the wasting of the nation’s resources as we struggle to solve our problems. I would like to say categorically that our efforts cannot have progressive effects if we do not tackle our problems from the ground up. We need to collectively correct our moral and attitudinal anomalies, which is just the biggest entry point in our society.
These anomalies are present in all households. We then take care of them on our streets and bring them to our schools. We graduate there to employ them in our workplaces until they become full-blown leaders who rule our economy and society as a whole. It starts with telling lies, then greed, exam errors, throwing trash on the street, shunting queues in public places like hospitals, banks and gas stations.
This includes breaking agreements among friends, stabbing a companion in the back (and I mean that both literally and metaphorically).
The Nigerian anomalies are mainly the excesses of our leaders becoming rulers, including sending political thugs to steal ballot boxes to rig elections, and even mutilating and killing voters, demonizing self-determination activities to scapegoat peaceful citizens to make the ban on the use of Twitter for the gag of free expression from the 4th, send military personnel to kill young people protesting and deny this despite the evidence and much more.
But despite our terrible shortcomings, we can become morally whole as a nation if we take the bull by the horns.
Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist, postulated: “Morality is the basis of things and truth is the substance of all morality.”
The remedy is to learn to accept and respect our moral values in all political, economic, social, and religious activities. And we have to hold on to it as our truth, no more and no less!
The entirety of our national institutions and government agencies needs a thorough overhaul. And for that, all hands have to be on deck. How do we do that? We have to be morally pragmatic! That has to be said because we are a theoretically pleasing nation, leaving the practical aspects to fate. If we as a country want to be perfectly healthy in morals and attitudes, we must go to the roots with practical cleansing. We need to format the old rogue mentality of corruption and moral decadence and then build principles of morality and integrity into our systems.
The practical awareness and cleansing of our society of the inability to be morally righteous because a people start from families. Because charity, they say, begins at home. Fathers and mothers should teach, practice, and supervise their children in moral matters.
You have to be exemplary leaders. Simple morals like greetings, sincere apologies, thanks for good deeds, hard work, no to bribery, integrity and dignity at home should be taken seriously as the lifeline of our dear nation, which is really right.
Then the teachers in all of our educational centers should do the same. If education is the foundation of modernization, then the school system should be used to instill moral values and healthy attitudes in our learners, who take over society in all their endeavors. Practical courses for testing morale and behavior should be introduced. For example, students can be used to help traffic attendant on the streets test their moral values against the hostile environment of motorists, market women, and others.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives called on the federal government to reintroduce moral teachings as a compulsory subject in school curricula and to develop an effective orientation for the school system in Nigeria.
In the opinion of the House, the policy should become binding through the cooperation between the ministries for education, youth and sport development, the National Orientation Agency and other relevant ministries, departments and agencies.
This followed the acceptance of a motion from Imo State Member Uju Kingsley China at the plenary session entitled “The Need to Enforce Compulsory Teaching of Moral Lessons and Orientation Subjects / Courses in Nigeria’s Curriculum”.
During the application, the legislature stated that good morals and correct orientation are undeniably rudimentary mechanisms of child-rearing and upbringing, and a lack of them would lead to social decline, especially among young people.
He said: “Recognizing that with the recent rise in violence and various forms of immorality, the need to reintroduce and enforce the teaching of morality and orientation subjects / courses in primary, secondary and higher education institutions cannot be overstated .
“Also knowing that reintroducing moral lessons and proper orientation will restore good morals in the younger generation and provide proper orientation for future generations.”
While applauding the Imo legislature, I must state that this has to be a comprehensive matter, so government officials and politicians are not exempt. Indeed, moral decadence has gripped our entire public fabric.
For example, the rotating presidency debate has not been formally documented, but political analysts have said it was primarily agreed upon prior to the establishment of this current democracy. However, it is morally wrong for some elements to want to capitalize on it in order to acquire fairness.
The Igbo group Ohanaeze Ndigbo recently said in a statement by its spokesman Alex Ogbonia: “In 1998, a gentlemanly agreement was made between the north and the south at the NUC conference center in Abuja. The late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo spoke for the entire south and Alh. Abubakar Rimi, also of blessed memory, spoke for the north. It was agreed that after General Abdulsalami Abubakar as head of state, the presidency should be relocated to the south. That was the reason for the appearance of the mainstream party presidential flag bearers from the Southwest. “
So it can be said that most of our politicians do not respect moral values related to integrity and demeanor.
Nigerian politicians should see the society they rule as their own school. After all, life itself is a school. And as such, your textbook for Nigeria will be a new constitution drafted and born by the Nigerian people, not the military regime. The document will be our “Bible” and our “Quran” to teach us moral values regardless of our age, status, religion or ethnicity.
The advent of a new constitution can preserve Nigeria’s corporate existence. It will be our study guide to really direct our moral principles and also set penalties for the perpetrators. The school system referred to by the legislature should be a new constitution and we will all be humble learners. Through this we can have a new people, and a new Nigeria, if not, the voice of agitation will get louder as the days go by.
The unity of Nigerians is crucial to prevent the country’s disintegration and if the political elite want to preserve Nigeria as a unity because their lives depend so heavily on it, they should begin to show and honor moral principles in our society. This begins, but does not end, with respect for the basic human rights of citizens and respect for gentleman agreements.
May we have a better, safer and bigger Nigeria.
Busari is a journalist in Lagos.