The real problem of our country is neither the leadership nor the followership. The problem of Nigeria, the burden keeping us down is ourselves, our attitudes, our lack of public morality and our unconscionable behaviour while in public office!
Our nation is truly awful because we have been ensnared by a lack of civic morality and utter lack of public morality! We have become hostages of our own utter absence of morality, charity and we are totally unable to consider the interest or welfare of the proverbial “other person”!
From the policeman to the market woman, from the nurse to the teacher, from the examiner to the politician, from the civil servant to the transporter, all suffer from a deficit of public morality!
While many may practice charity within their own families, outside the family, our practice is wickedness and amorality.
We refuse to aid victims of accident, we refuse to rescue those troubled, and we refuse to speak up against wrong once we are not directly involved.
Recently a family in Karu, a suburb of Abuja, refused to open their front gates despite frantic knocking on the gates. This was after several gunshots were fired on the street and the ruckus had ceased.
When they eventually did open their gates many hours later, they found their own son dead in front of the gate. He was a victim of motorcycle riding robbers and he was alive for a while but no rescue came. The robbers had struck because they saw him walking along and carrying a shoulder bag which happened to contain only his dirty laundry!
They tried to seize the bag and being a gallant young man, he resisted them, they then shot him at close range and zoomed off. He managed to get to his own parent’s gate but they wont open, so the boy died there. You see, they didn’t know it was their own son! In other climes, people will rush out to aid whoever was being robbed and possibly to apprehend the assailants, but here in the cities of Nigeria, we hardly step out to help others in dire need. Think on that!
As a people, we exhibit public immorality and lack of charity in every sector of our society! For example; The politician will ensure that his son gets a job but will arm the sons of other citizens for thuggery; The teacher will not teach in class but he will struggle to teach his own child properly; The orphanage operator will not feed the kids under his care but will steal orphanage food so that he can overfeed his own children at home; The importer will import worthless drugs to sell but ensure he brings in a few good ones for his family; and the NAFDAC official will issue approvals for filthy water but will ensure that he and his family will drink only clean water from reputable companies!
As you can see, dear reader, the instances of our wickedness to our ourselves are endless. Which one of us has not had a sad experience in the hospital at the hands of doctors and other hospital staff who neglect even emergency patients? I guess this is the only country in the world where accident victims must make a deposit before they can be treated! I also think that this is the only country where ambulances are denied sick persons but are available to corpses!
Many teaching hospitals, despite strict government guidelines still subject patients to unethical practices such as the denial of oxygen and other basics of hospice.
Recently a well-known hospital in Abuja seized the dead body of a few days old baby because the parents do not have money left to pay the hospital bills. The parents had spent all that they have to get the baby the best treatment they could afford. Despite their efforts the baby died. Instead of the hospital personnel empathizing with the bereaved family, they seized the corpse and refused to release it to the heartbroken parents for burial. It was only when the parents of the dead baby reported the matter to an Abuja based newspaper and the hospital was scared of bad press that it was literally forced to release the corpse free of charge. That is another example of how uncaring some Nigerians are toward the “other person”.
Look at the well-intentioned school-feeding programme. Despite the huge sums allocated to it, teachers and contractors have turned it into a sad story where substandard and unbalanced meals are being served to pupils!
The failure of these and other laudable programmes are neither the fault of the leadership as it were or the citizen, rather it is the combination of factors amongst which we can put corruption first. By corruption, I mean citizen corruption. Don’t forget that the word citizen refers to every single individual within a defined political space.
While one can single out the leadership for a lack of vision and probity, the populace suffer the same malaise. After all, leaders emerge from the populace.
The challenge of our nation really is a challenge of morality and good conscience. No society can rise beyond the level of its weakest members. A society that routinely puts monetary considerations above every other consideration is certainly a very amoral one, which must by definition remain hellish!
If we must build a better country, we must build our morality, our understanding of the meaning of “mutual benefits” which forms the basis of any harmonious nation. A situation in which injustice and discrimination is the norm will never help our country to overcome.
Therefore, until we embrace public morality and change our ways, the hell that we are in currently will get hotter!
Politicians will not be able to solve the problem because they happen to be poorly equipped morally and intellectually for the task of governance. Pastors and Imams won’t help either because they are beneficiaries of the immorality in the polity.
The hope of our nation lies in the good spirited intellectual who has a grasp of the necessity of pulling the nation out of primordial and primitive sentiments. Our other hope is the youth, to whom the future belongs.
On these lie our hope and our rejuvenation for now.