A NATION IN SEARCH OF ROLE MODELS
Wikipedia defines role model as a person looked up to by others as an example to imitate. It is also the act of emulating the life styles of successful people in the society. It is this view of role model that gave rise to the concept of leadership role model. It was John Quincy Adams, former United States President that once said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. But, in Nigeria today, what do we have? We have pop-culture-breed role models with deficits of trust, tastes and values.In the Nigeria of today, it is easier for a young man on the street to name one popular artist as his role model than naming Professor Wole Soyinka, Philip Emeaguali, Professor Gabriel Oyibo, the man who propounded the God Almighty Grand Unifying Theory (GAGUT) among other Nigerians who through hard work, perseverance and consistency attained
greatness in their various fields of endeavors as their role models. We live in an age where few marketing executives and publicists use their marketing gimmickry to define role models for some of the youths of this country. The unfortunate thing is that, some sections of the media have unknowingly lend themselves to the promotion of the current trends in the country; promoting fame without virtues. This is why, when you see a young man and ask him what he wants to be become in life, he will either tell you that, he wants to become a standup comedian or a player in the nation's entertainment industry. I'm however not saying they are wrong with their ambitions, but, in a developing economy like ours that needs massive infrastructural developments, good health care delivery, modern airports and other scientific, technological, medical and administrative know-how, I think we need more agriculturalist, engineers, scientists, doctors, pharmacists,
editors, administrators among other professionals in the country than entertainers! The truth is that, we cannot be complaining of expatriates taking our local jobs, when all we do is to entertain them during parties! This was the view President Obama made clear to the Blacks in the United States of America, when he attended the National Association for the Advancements of Colored People (NAACP) programme during his first tenure as the first black occupant of the White House. He advised them to reduce the rate they rush in to the entertainment industry; rather, they should go in to medicine, engineering, judiciary, politics and other sectors of the American Economy. If America as developed economy as it is and the world's largest economy by all standards; the most technologically advanced nation in the world and the only standing super power in the globe today, could still need more engineers, doctors etc, I think, it will be one the greatest
disservice to the nation if Nigeria should continue to desire more entertainers than engineers and other desperately needed professionals in the country!The nail-biting poverty rates in the country have forced many to change their value systems! Worship of money has become rampart. Material accumulation and possessions have become one of the fundamental criteria used in measuring success. Today in Nigeria, if a man leaves government without stealing public funds, some persons will view him as an abnormal person. In fact, when Mohammed Abba Gana , former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory said, he left office without a house in Abuja and fleets of cars in his garage; and that, each time he comes to Abuja, he sleeps in a friend's house, some Nigerians especially the youths called him all sorts of unprintable names. Some even told me that nobody goes to a palm oil processing plant without oil touching his or her hands. The precarious situation we
find ourselves in the country is what President Obama called the poverty of ambition. He said poverty of ambition is when our ambition is to wear fancy cloths, fancy shoes, drive fancy cars and own fancy houses, then, we are suffering from poverty of ambitions.Similarly, I have never read or seen a place where Honourary Doctorate Degree or a Chieftaincy Title is given or awarded to an average man with virtues in the country. Some years ago, I was shocked when I read a demoralizing report about Taiwo Akinkumi, a patriotic Nigerian who designed the Nigerian National Flag, but, to say the least, he is living in poverty. Apart from him, they are many other patriotic Nigerians I would not like to mention their names here, who are been subjected to the same unacceptable and outrageous treatment and experience as Taiwo Akinkumi in the country. Things like that can only happen in a country in search of role models!Nonetheless, we can still turn a new leaf by
setting the right standards, values, idles and ethics through mental revitalization and reorientation like I have been doing over the years, though without rewards. The time to reclaim our lost values and identity in the committee of nations is now, therefore, Nigerians should start condemning mediocrity, the same way they condemned the clandestine attempts to legalize under age marriage in the country.Comrade Edwin Ekene Uhara, an Activist, Media Consultant and Public Affairs Commentator is the National President of Young Nigerians for Change.
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Temporarily writing from, No., 9, Imgbi Road, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria.