Most Nigerians are excited for the few days in office of President Tinubu and how he has performed so far. However, one striking revelation is the amount of revelations of corruption in Buhari’s government despite his well pronounced anti corruption government. It is almost like all the good people who go into government end up coming out corrupt. When is Nigeria going to get it right? When are we going to get rid of corruption in government? When will the right people come into government in Nigeria?
This brings me to what I believe is the biggest problem of Nigeria. The biggest problem of Nigeria are Nigerians, all of us, we mostly live without a consciously defined system of values.
When I observe the first few steps of President Tinubu I can clearly see the big boldness and faith of Asiwaju and his economic ingenuity to turn things around for good for the country. I’m afraid this will end up doing a similar thing to what the former finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala used to do by quoting all the right figures of GDP growth, micro and macroeconomics etc., yet without any major transformation in the country. Unfortunately this is the economic philosophy the Buhari government also adopted. For some reasons generations of Nigerian leaders have put their faith more in some supposedly genius economic formulas than in building the core moral character of the people. The fact is that no matter what brilliant economic formulas we come up with, it is ordinary citizens that must live these things out daily in their workplaces and private lives. If the moral fabric of the people is collapsed as we currently have it in Nigeria, the people will end of sabotaging even the best initiatives. The only government that had a relative success in this area to mend was the Buhari/Idiagbon regime before they were butted out of office.
Without purposefully instilling high level morals and values in the generality of our people, the same people will end up dismantling anything you build no matter how glorious it is. Just as we see some Nigerians destroying and stealing the rails from the newly constructed railway lanes. Without a coordinated system of values to be systematically imparted to the totality of Nigerians, sabotage, theft and destruction of national assets won’t stop even if we have the best military and police services in the world. A recent discovery of oil bunkering syndicates across the country is another proof that the problem of Nigeria is in Nigerians who live in their country without any understanding of values and virtues. Someone must cry out loud for all aspiring leaders of Nigeria to hear this principles of life that:
The intangible is more important than the tangible. The content of character of our people is far more important than all our natural resources that we so much eulogise endlessly.
The internal values of our people are more important than the external prosperity.
We must know that some things are more important than life itself: principles, values, character, standards. It is the people who have these qualities that go ahead to build great nations. When these things are lost we lose ourselves individually and as a nation. Those who live by values do rule the earth, because they have a superior inner morals and values.
Reading through the APC Manifesto I noticed that there was not a single policy consideration to reform our moral fabric as a nation. This to me speaks about the fact that this next group of rulers are again missing what is the major problem of our nation, which is our collapsed value system. As a matter of fact I’m not sure it was ever well formulated to the ordinary Nigerian in our history. The government of Shagari actually attempted to draw up a value system for the nation, but they were soon overthrown.
Any government that wants to rescue Nigeria must come up with a whole system of values that will effectively address the moral failure of our society. This is our greatest problem as a country. It is out of this we have all other issues including leadership failure. The point I am trying to pass across is that leadership is not the biggest problem of Nigeria. Our biggest problem is a corrupt value system. In the past few years I have personally taken it upon myself to develop a set of values for the Nigerian nation. I ended up with 20 of them. We have National orientation agency in Nigeria, we have National institute for policy and strategic studies in Nigeria, these national organisations and others must be tasked to come up with a fully developed set of value systems to give the correct orientation to every citizen of Nigeria.
National values are a set of core principles ingrained into the mental and social structures of society, which help to dictate the action and behaviour of the citizenry. These are qualities, principles and behaviours every nation holds in high esteem as it seeks to achieve its ultimate objectives.
Let’s get this straight. There is no point waiting for a miracle from the Tinubu presidency if he and his team don’t incorporate this in their programs. A miracle didn’t happen despite the best efforts of this APC government of Mohammadu Buhari, no need to wait for such miracles from Tinubu’s government if the right things are not done. Please let me prove this to you through an illustration. Any nation could be viewed as a pot from where the most active, zealous or talented representatives of this given society emerge as their leaders. If the pot therefore is corrupt, only corrupt leaders will come out of that pot. If the pot however is clean and righteous and everybody in that nation is living by righteous value systems, naturally the leaders that will be coming out of that pot will reflect the nature and the environment of the pot itself. They will be clean, they will be trustworthy and they will be righteous. This is the reason you dear reader will probably not be able to mention as little as ten heads of states presently in Europe. Because they don’t need to have super leaders, since the societies are averagely upright, so it doesn’t matter much who becomes the leader, anyone you pick will perform in accordance to the upright standards of the countries.
If the generality of our people are corrupt in their values then this will be reflected in all areas of our society. Bad behaviour will manifest its ugly heads everywhere from bottom to the top. There will be evil and corrupt citizens everywhere. In such a situation even if the president is Jesus Christ himself yet the majorly corrupt citizens will sabotage his best efforts. As long as the masses of the citizens lack the moral virtues necessary for progress and development the best efforts of leaders will amount to nothing. As long as our leaders on every level is produced from this society whose moral values are completely broken down it means only morally broken leaders could emerge. The society will always produce leaders that reflect the state of that society. If it’s a morally and ethically healthy society then these are the type of leaders that will emerge. If the society is corrupt and the thinking of ordinary citizens is that of selfishness, egocentrism and instant gratification then these are the types of leaders who will emerge to become their rulers.
There is sometimes an exemption from this trend though. That is when a remnant leader manages to prove his or her worth to convince the people of the nation of his good intentions. In such a situation when the populace accepts such an exceptional leader, his most important duty must be to change the nature of the pot by changing the value system of the nation. Our leaders come from our societies. The leadership of any nation is only but a reflection of the prevailing value systems of that society. So if a nation is corrupt, it will only produce corrupt leaders because the citizenry in general live by corrupt values in their daily lives and endeavors. An unclean pot will keep on reproducing an unclean content. If the value systems of Nigeria and Nigerians don’t change, we will keep on recycling and reproducing only those types of leaders we are seeing so far. Miracles will not happen, leaders are neither angels nor spirits. They live and grow from among the people; their existence is given expression and influenced by happenings in the environment where they live. Expecting leaders who live in a largely corrupt and morally lax society to live above board while shying away from the urgent task to change and orientate the citizenry will only amount to putting the cart before the horse.
The greatest challenge for Nigerians who desire to see a changed society is to focus first on their value systems as a people. If the value systems of the citizens are right, they would not select corrupt or bad leaders. For example, in societies where there are good moral values, people would not elect corrupt politicians or collect money to get the wrong people into office. Even if a corrupt politician finds his way by hook or by crook into the government, since the moral values of the masses contradict the corrupt values of the politician, he would be exposed and easily dismissed.
Therefore what we need in Nigeria and Africa in general is not just a good messianic leader, but a good set of virtues and value systems in the masses that would make them abhor and reject any manifestation of corruption in their leaders and would-be leaders. Thus, we should not expect, and we will not have the kind of improvements or the leadership that we seek as a nation if we don’t work on our value system. For example, under the late Umaru Musa Yar Adua’s administration, there was a bold step made towards changing the negative perception of Nigeria both locally and internationally through the Rebranding Project. Unfortunately, this brilliant program failed to achieve its set objectives because it did not first attempt to establish and promote good national values in the citizens within the country. Rebranding is not the issue, the issue is to change the contents of character of our citizens, when we become people of virtues, we will be automatically rebranded all over the world.
Sunday Adelaja is a Nigeria born leader, transformation strategist, pastor and innovator. He was based in Kiev Ukraine
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