featured Op-Ed

OBSERVATION: Where Is Our Value System?

OBSERVATION: Where Is Our Value System?
  • PublishedJune 26, 2021

By Yaya Ademola

VALUE system is moral principle or standard of behaviour; it is a person’s basic attitudes, beliefs, or feelings in relations to a particular subject or issue. Values have to do with preferences in relations with appropriate courses of action which reflect a person sense of right and wrong or what ought to be. Values influence attitudes and behaviour. In Yoruba parlance, it is called Omoluabi ethos. According to Wikipedia, “An Omoluabi is a person of honour who believes in hardwork, respects the rights of others, and gives to the community in deeds and in action. Above all, an Omoluabi is a person of integrity. The Omoluabi concept is an adjectival Yoruba phrase, which has the words – “omo+ti+olu-iwa+bi” as its components.”

For about 3 decades after Nigeria’s independence (1960 till 1990), our value system was optimally operational. Money was proceed of labour, productivity and services rendered. Right from the secondary school, a child was  being moulded and prepared for what he/she intended to study  and become in life so as to fulfil his/her ambition and become responsible to himself/herself and the society. For children who were not academically inclined, they were given choices of artisanship they intended engaging.There were peace, tranquillity, and reasonable progress in the society and social relations. In the farm areas, farm produce would be displayed along footpaths for whoever wanted to buy while the owner-farmer would be busy cultivating on the farm. The intended buyer would pick the produce and drop money as signified by the farmer. On his way home after work, the farmer would simply pick his money. At that time, the buyer did the needful without police surveillance or CCTV Camera watching him/her. It was simply an Omoluabi ethos!

Under this milieu, the ruling elite were having their personal privileges and allowances, they were not so reckless. They made efforts to provide some basic amenities for the populace like free education, especially in the South-West Nigeria, potable water, relatively stable and affordable electricity, healthcare, etc. They invested in people and infrastructures. All these created enabling environment for private sectors and multinationals to thrive who engaged young school leavers from high and higher schools. Meanwhile, the government at all levels also engaged the people.

In that era, there were no high fences and fence wires around homes and houses. People could sleep with their two eyes closed. Although, there were some selected cases of crime and criminality, they were exceptions and never the rule as we have it today.

The ruling elite attitude and orientation changed, especially from the 1990s, which gradually but steadily eroded our value system. Apart from their refusal to invest in people and infrastructures like their forebears, the contemporary ruling elite have divested and sold to themselves and their cronies our collective assets and infrastructures under the guise of privatisation and commercialisation. They started with the slogan, “Government has no business in business.” They systematically ran and are still running aground all public assets and institutions. Very soon, instead of building more private universities, they will start selling off the public universities via Private Sector Participation (PSP). After all, according to them, government alone cannot fund education and the ASUU wahala is too much in demanding adequate funding of the universities, prompt payment of salaries and allowances among several, which have always made ASUU to be at loggerheads with the government. Although, COVID-19 struck a major blow to every system, for most part of 2020, ASUU was on strike to demand the aforesaid.

This systematic approach of selling off assets, discouraging production and productivity, refusal to diversify economy and reliance on oil and gas money alone, stealing money appropriated for development with impunity among several scandals have created a huge vacuum that the present ruling elite cannot fill. Most hitherto multinationals and private establishments that used to engage the youth have evaporated as enabling environment no longer exists like constant and affordable electricity among other infrastructures which have made incurred overhead cost prohibitive and forced them to relocate to neighbouring Ghana. Textile which used to be second employer of labour after government is a shadow of its old self now.

With high rate of unemployment and poverty, our value system started to fade away. For everybody from the ruling elite at the top to the last poor man/woman on the street, the slogan is, “Next to money is money.” Money is no more earned for work or services rendered. Everybody uses whatever he/she has to crudely get money. Nobody is committed to anything of value again. Very few young people who are privileged to be employed into federal or state government institutions like Police, Army, Civil Defence, etc are not really committed to the fatherland. All is about struggle for an opportunity to make money! Teachers in the universities are no longer committed to learning and culture, hence, sex for marks. There have been several reported cases of ritual killings; mothers selling their children for money.

The Nigeria Pledge, written by Felicia Adeola in 1976, usually recited after the National Anthem is an enough orientation piece:

“I pledge to Nigeria my Country

To be faithful, loyal and honest

To serve Nigeria with all my strength

To defend her unity

And uphold her honour and glory

So help me God.”

Could we confidently state that this pledge is being honoured by Nigerians, especially the security agents, ruling elite and civil servants? The unfortunate answer is NO! The National Orientation Agency (NOA), founded in 1993 with the task of communicating government policies and promotion of patriotism, among others, seems to be docile.

Meanwhile, the collapse of value is the catalyst of indecency, crimes and criminality. How do we explain a father deflowering his own teenage daughter and impregnating her? This incest has become a regular phenomenon in our land. How do you explain daily kidnapping of people for ransom? Hunger is looming as farmers could no longer go to farm anymore for fear of herdsmen and kidnappers. The trouble is getting out of hand and the present ruling elite who are culprits have no capacity to solving it. It is high time we had a genuine party of the people that can wrestle power from the present thieving ruling elite and inject a new system that will invest in people and infrastructure with reorienting our people to attaining peace and posterity for us individually and collectively. This is the ultimate way out of this logjam.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *