The spirit of patriotism and core values of hard-working, honesty, discipline, Godliness, dedication and merit have since taken flight from the country.
Vices of corruption, laziness, unconscionable greed, selfishness and self-centredness have replaced virtues which actually constitute our humanity.
Only a few citizens actually think of what they could do to contribute to the development of the country with majority waiting in the wings to benefit, most times undeservedly, from the resources of the nation.
It is this lack of patriotism that breeds corruption which has continued to be the bane of the development in Nigeria.
Even though an average Nigerian knows the right thing to do at any given time, he prefers to cut corners believing that the end will justify the means.
The society has so degenerated that things don’t work normally indicating a total breakdown of the people’s traditional African core values over the years.
The concomitant effects of degradation of moral values and social mores are evident across the nation where most people now believe that honesty and forthrightness no longer pay.
Successive administration have attempted to re-inculcate core moral values into the people with limited success.
Past attempts failed partly because the leaders would say something and do another. They failed to live by example.
For instance, corruption has penetrated the society and many citizens of this generation have come to take it as a normal way of life.
President Muhammad Buhari in his first coming as a military Head of State, some 31 years ago, launched the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) aimed at taming the societal vice. Although people were forcefully beaten back into line with orderliness restored, the high-handedness employed by the soldiers made critics tag the programme an instrument of oppression and suppression.
Laudable as the programme was, it’s implementation was suspended by Buhari’s successor, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd).
Efforts were made variously to regenerate the spirit of patriotism and responsibility into the citizenry after Buhari’s initial attempt but with limited success.
Irked by the slide in the nation’s moral values, Buhari yesterday launched the National Re-orientation Campaigns tagged ‘Change begins with me’ at the Presidential Villa.
The campaign aimed at ensuring attitudinal change among the citizenry was also to correct the ways the people engage their neighbours and friends in a manner that promotes the common good.
Buhari succinctly painted the Nigerian society when he said “There is no doubt that our value system has been badly eroded over years. The long cherished and time honoured, time tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, punctuality, food neighbourliness, abhorrence of indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.”
“The resultant effect of this derailment in our value system is being felt in the social political and economic sphere. It is the reason that some youths will take to cultism and brigandage instead of studying hard or engaging in decent living; it is the reason that some elements will break pipelines and other oil facilities thus robbing the nation of much needed resources; it is the reason that money belonging to our commonwealth will be brazenly stolen by the same public officials to whom they were entrusted; it is the reason why motorists will drive through res lights, it is the reason why many will engage in thuggery and vote stealing during elections; it is part of what has driven our economy into deep problem out of which we are now trying to extricate ourselves.”
There is no arguing that moral values have collapsed in this country owing to several years of corners-cutting and impunity.
To demonstrate seriousness, this administration must lead in moral rectitude by living modestly and showing examples.
Efforts at re-orientation of social values in the past failed because those leaders say something and do exactly the opposite.
Corruption has always been the reason for military intervention in the past but successive administrations have always outpaced their predecessors in volume of looted funds.
Civilian administration’s of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan purportedly fought corruption in their own ways but there are indications that several trillions of naira were misappropriated under them.
For the latest campaign to succeed, the government must be seen to be responsive to the yearnings the people by making available necessary infrastructures.
The issue of unemployment must be addressed frontally while a robust reward system must be put in place for excellence, honesty and diligence.
The government itself must work harder on the people not to celebrate illicit wealth. The society must be made to prioritise and celebrate integrity, especially at the grassroot.
The campaign must encourage innovations and enforce patronage of local products.
Again, Nigerian culture, especially her food and clothing should be promoted while importation of ostentatious items must be controlled. Doing these, apart from bringing back national pride, would also help in conserving the much needed foreign reserves for better use.
Again, for the campaign to be successful, those who have crossed the Rubicon, especially those kleptomaniac public officials who dipped their hands into the common till and made away with public funds must not only be prosecuted but must be made to face the consequences of their actions. This, of course, would serve as deterrent to others of like minds waiting for an opportunity to steal in public service.
Those with unexplained sources of income should not be allowed enjoy their loots. Such persons, no matter how highly placed, should be probed, and if found culpable, be punished.
Since the President has indicated his resolve to bring sanity back into the society, he must be prepared to go the whole hog.