THE RAPE OF VALUES
There is no denying the fact that the values of our society have degenerated so much. One of the reasons is the result of the weaknesses of the state to check and provide effective punishment for deviants in our society.
Hitherto, ours was not a society where everything was permissible. There used to be decorum in our educational system, politics and other public issues. When one introduces oneself as a legal practitioner for instance, a standard is expected as one is perceived as having gone through rigorous academic exercise with its attendant discipline. To be a politician also is not only to desist from every form of scandal, but dread it in all ramifications.
The sorry situation of man emanated when the society gradually allowed its reverenced values to become almost insignificant in the assessment of humanity.
Man is rather left to conduct his affairs and even public affairs without recourse to any ethical order, giving room for hooligans, school drop outs, criminals and men with questionable character to have a field day in sensitive public places. Little wonder then that we have among our political class, men and women bereft of conscience, ideas and visions of statesmanship. We have, without doubt, witnessed apparent reversal of our values and enthroned a shameless culture of thievery and mediocrity in our national lives. Presently, what constitutes immorality in Nigeria is subject to debate.
Recently, I heard in a discussion that there is what is called Special Centres in the West African Examination Council in Nigeria. When I asked for explanation, I was told that such centres are places where candidates don't fail examination as the papers are 'legally' prepared for the candidates to copy into their examination scripts, after good money has exchanged hands. These are exam centres that produced a lot of dunces and hollow students in our society, who with false certificates, find their ways into the universities and 'sort' themselves out of the university.
Politics has become a veritable ground for those who do not know where their next meal will come from. Ironically it is a sure place where beggars not only become kings, but attain financial status of unimaginable height. This type of society we have encouraged, through actions or inactions, surely poses grave danger to the youths who are referred to as leaders of tomorrow.
There was a time in this country when stealing attracts serious stigma. It is not so again as it has rather become a symbol of strength and bravado. It is not uncommon to see an act of stealing given dangerous euphemistic colouration like 'chancing', 'sorting', thereby making it acceptable in our national lives. A nation where nothing disqualifies one from aspiring for public office is a nation whose morality is in crisis. It behooves on few men and women with integrity to champion a fight against this sudden drift from our cherished ethical values. This is very imperative to prevent what I may refer to as personality crisis in Nigeria.
I am proud to state here that I belong to the generation that witnessed certain level of decorum in our social life. The tragedy of our youth lies in the fact that they were not lucky enough to witness any form of order. What has been handed down is culture of impunity, corruption, opulent living without hard work; get rich quick syndrome certificate forgery, assassination, kidnapping, ritual murder, and other forms of heinous crimes. If we are to evolve a society of decent men with values, the state should strive hard to draw its citizens back to its original ethical foundation, through exemplary lifestyle. If the trend of events is allowed to go the way it has been going, we may raise children in future whose success in life may be measured in terms of harm they have inflicted on their fellow men. Such society will be a great contradiction to human society.
If there is a profession in Nigeria I know that has totally lost its challenges and glamour, it is politics. This is because it has turned out to be a profession or is it a vocation where character does not play any significant role in the choice of those who represent public interest in our present political set-up. It is not uncommon to see such men parade themselves as political leaders in their various communities.
These men who have virtually no visible means of livelihood are very dangerous, as their actions do not encourage positive challenge, hard work and growth in the society. They are the types Achebe lampooned in his book The Man of the People, as represented by Chief Nanga. Unfortunately, the nature of our politics has indeed given these class of people undue relevance to continue to feast on our national treasure, pauperizing continually the very people they pretend to represent. They abound in almost all the Local Government Areas in our country today.
If you ask a Nigeria to give his assessment of the present day politicians, he or she will simply dismiss them as common criminals, squanderers simple playing with public funds. This negative portraiture of our politicians is not supposed to be ascribed to those in power because politics in its real form is a very challenging and aesthetic profession, meant for men and women with impeccable character, vision and concern for the society. It is never an opportunity for reckless spending. It is a business of men and women endowed with humility and kieptomania has no business with service.
This may explain why Plato in his book The Republic, stated that power should go to the philosopher kings who have risen from the mundane to the transcendental, where visions, ideas are derived from the word of forms.
In the Platonic context, there is no genuine politician in Nigeria since what we have are cabals of looters, Machiavellis and epicureans, comfortable in debauchery as against state work.
One way to restore the dignity of man in Nigeria is to demolish this faulty foundation upon which our political ideologies rest. A structure that empowers public office holders to amass wealth recklessly while the rest live below poverty line is an offensive structure. If the state is serious in this direction, capital punishment should be put in place to check this ugly development. It is a tragedy to observe how most Nigerians who have kept this country in its sorry state will move with swagger as if they are more than the state. This should be discouraged in all its entirety if we are to evolve a society of order where justice, love and dignity of man will be protected and preserved.