Overtime in Nigeria, the value system has continued to come under severe attack

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    Hajiya Mohammad

    Value as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary of English refers to “Something such as a principle or quality that is sought after and desirable”. Put differently; anything worthy of note is said to be of value.

    Overtime in Nigeria, the value system has continued to come under severe attack and denigration. The notion “if you can’t beat them, join them” has led to more persons joining the bandwagon of getting things done by cutting corners regardless of the consequences attached.

    Nigeria is enmeshed in decadence of healthy norms and values which promotes meritocracy, corruption has become more intense as people openly loot government coffers without remorse: cases of embezzlement of pension funds, academicians squandering tertiary education trust funds meant for academic research on cars and other luxurious items, diversion of public funds for personal reasons and all other pockets of corrupt scenarios have become part of our daily lives as Nigerians.

    Gone are the days people get jobs based on merit, now you have to know someone who knows someone at the top to stand a chance. The civil service is not left out, the notion of meritocracy as a core principle of the service has since been kicked out. Files can only be moved when a token is paid to the person in charge as though the workers don’t get salaries.

    Although, institutions exist that are saddled with ensuring the entrenchment of proper values and merit in the system, the likes of the Police force, EFCC, ICPC, SON are there to ensure compliance with proper standards. The reverse is now the case as those who ought to instill proper standards are caught in the act which makes it a clear case of pot calling kettle black.

    Governance structure in Nigeria since the fourth republic no doubts has also made things worse. The profligacy of public office holders and the juicy nature of political offices has further increased the zest to make money by any means available. Cases of internet scams, rituals, robberies, kidnapping, vandalism will find no place in the system if only the government are determined to use public funds for the greater good of the populace as scholars of the utilitarian school of thought posits.

    In times past, citizens had massive trust for their leaders and things weren’t as bad as they seem to be now, development was going at a fast pace until the pre-SAP years which halted all forms of developmental drive due to over politicization of policies and programmes. Regions in Nigeria sought to improve their comparative advantage by focusing solely on products domiciled in abundance within their region. Since the creation of states and the oil boom years everyone now solely depends on crude oil exports. States go cap in hand to the federal government for allocation and a large chunk of this is embezzled. Local government in Nigeria are almost non-existent as the state government have succeeded in sapping all its powers; financially and otherwise. The trickle effect is seen in the level of decadence visible at the grassroots.

    Nigeria, the supposed giant of Africa is home to over 90 million persons living in multi-dimensional poverty, the number of out of school children continues to add up daily, poor health care system, increased unemployment while those who have a job are either underutilized or working in the poorest of conditions. Millions of citizens cannot afford a dollar a day threshold. Yet we are blessed with so many resources but those at the helms of affairs seem to be profiting from the decadence in the system.

    It is true the people deserve the leaders they get as tribalism, ethnicity and sectionalism is the basis for amassing votes in Nigerian elections. So long as you are part of the majority ethnic group regardless of individual capacity and capability, victory is well assured. Voting patterns is not adduced to the capacity of leaders.

    Religion and religious movement which would have been a ray of hope in instilling the right values has not done much. Churches and mosques are saturated all over the country, yet decadence of values still pierces deep into the nooks and crannies of the country.

    Education and educational institutions would have been of great help but currently they are also in dire need as the standards continue to plummet daily. Students are taught to read, cram, pass exams and forget; only a few good institutions care to internalize lessons taught in the students. Bribery and sex for grades continues to occur unabated. Students are allowed to learn in poor conditions, yet monies are budgeted for this course. The amount although is a mere drop in the ocean when compared to allocations for remunerations and allowances for public office holders. All these misgivings have led to frequent brain drain as people seek greener pastures in countries where they are appreciated for adding value.

    Getting out of this lock-jam will require a comprehensive overhaul of the institutions of government. Popularly held beliefs, norms, values, customs and perspectives of the citizens should also be examined. The leaders must do well to gain the trust of citizens by ensuring monies meant for development is put to the best use. Religious leaders should also focus more on good morals and values with less emphasis on matters of prosperity and affluence.

    Similarly, the educational institutions should be well funded and monies should be well accounted for using world best measures. Other subsectors of the economy are tied to a quality educational system. Once this is achieved, development will naturally take its course and a facelift will occur in our value system.

    Changing our value system should not be a regular case of election sloganeering as the government has usually done on matters relating to diversifying from a mono economy government must be proactive and not reactive.

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