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Nigeria And The Crossroad Of Morals By Sunday ADEAGBO



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Morals are the prevailing standards of behavior that enable people to live cooperatively in groups. Moral refers to what societies sanction as right and acceptable. Most people tend to act morally and follow societal guidelines. Morality often requires that people sacrifice their own short-term interests for the benefit of society. People or entities that are indifferent to right and wrong are considered amoral, while those who do evil acts are considered immoral.

Historically, morality has been closely connected to religious traditions, but today its significance is equally important to the secular world. For example, businesses and government agencies have codes of ethics those employees are expected to follow.

Today, the Nigerian society is at a moral crossroads as the country is in a serious moral conflict. From one corner of the nation to the other, one can easily notice the fact that the erstwhile social order and character of the traditional Nigerian Society, which guaranteed honest living and maximum security of lives and property, have dwindled and given way to a situation of suspicion and distrust.

At times, one is at a loss where to begin to recount the numerous ills that have corroded our great and noble country through the youths. Do we begin from drug abuse, drug trafficking, robbery, social crimes, sexual permissiveness or child trafficking?.
Today in Nigeria, thing has fall apart, the centre cannot hold anymore. Quite a lot has gone wrong in the psyche of almost every Nigerian. The Nigerian mentality is strange and obscure. Many people no longer think critically to assess the situation they find themselves in. This is quite shameful.
The stormy waters started being coloured right from the beginning. Children in primary schools now watch blue films at the mercy of the house maids, and at times try to practice what they have watched. They can educate an adult on what sex is. Is that the civilization that we are preaching about? .Then when they enter secondary school, they start wearing mini – gown and skirt uniforms and bare bottom trousers with spaghetti hands, and the boys wear ash level torn trousers. They now start having boyfriends and girl friends, and now practice the bedmates of sex openly and fearlessly.

Right from the colonial invasion and conquest up to the present day, Nigeria has witnessed progressive degeneration of morality. Before the colonial era, the common characteristics of the Nigerian society was the existence of norms that were pivotal to the running of the society. However, in recent times, all the prohibitions that aided the maintenance of high moral and disciplined society have been neglected and abandoned due to the influence of western culture mainly brought about by colonial invasion.

The texture of social life of contemporary Nigerian Society is riddled with family disorientation, divorce, marital infidelity, child abuse, high cost of living which have led to the escalation of other crimes such as ritual killings, child kidnapping, armed robbery, bribery and corruption which have become the order of the day.

Moral degeneration is a universal phenomenon which is negatively affecting many societies, including Nigeria. The Nigerian society, with specific reference to family, school and public life is experiencing serious moral crises. The media is constantly reporting cases of moral breakdowns which are evident in social ills such as a general lack of discipline, violence, promiscuity, vandalism, corruption, high crime waves and the likes. Not a few seems to be wondering about the causes of this moral decay, and its negative effects on the Nigerian society.

The Nigerian society is in a state of moral, social, political, economic, legal and educational decay. The brazen display of immoral behaviours in the society today is a clear indication of the high level of moral degradation in the society. To this end, the issue of moral degeneration in the Nigerian society requires an urgent attention.

It is amazing to find out that the youths of these days are morally bankrupt. Our society has witnessed a tremendous deterioration in its moral, social and educational values, especially among the youths,
It is very unfortunate, many youths today in Osogbo, Ibadan , Lagos , Port Harcourt , Abuja , Akure , Abeokuta in a nutshell across Nigeria, oft for easy life that does not require hard work and effort. They are suffering from get-rich-quick syndrome known as Yahoo plus. At all cost they try to cut-corners in order to move ahead in life, this is what makes them creating such kind of defrauding money-making scheme. At one time President Buhari aptly described youths as “lazy”.

Our country seems to be slipping out of moral reach. Our legislature is lethal in wasting public funds. The judiciary is jaundiced in its judgments. The executive is exacerbating corruption in the land by not genuinely enforcing anti-corruption measures.

The public service is being overthrown by the craze for embezzlement of tax payer’s money. Worse still, pre-mature sex, sex perversion, sex abuse, commercial nudity, lesbianism, sodomy, violence and godlessness among teenagers and youths are on the increase. Suffice it to know that we can multiply these instances of vicious activities.

Our fatherland is unarguably barren of genuinely selfless, patriotic, deeply committed and upright nationals. A disruptive moral crisis has regrettably overtaken our social system through the importation and wholesale acceptance of alien values, alien tastes and alien life-styles, including brutal nudity among our girls, our ladies.

Decline in Parental Authority and Domestic Values. The head of the family, is steadily losing ground and influence. His headship or authority is no longer unquestionable. The loyalty of his wife and the piety of his children are not easily taken for granted and assured nowadays. In many homes, many fathers have ceased to lead by exemplary lives. Some have become over-indulging and permissive towards their children, to whom they have unwittingly issued tickets of indiscipline and licentiousness. Others have passively succumbed to the unedifying prodding and claims of their spouses.

Today in the world at large, Science and Technology has contributed a lot towards making lives better and worth living, however, the rise in science and technology has negatively influenced human morality, especially in Nigeria. Despite other positive uses of internets in areas of research and communication, negative and immoral practices are also learnt from the internet. For example, many pornographic sites abound in the internet.

A lot of Nigerian youths patronize these sites which glorify sex and sexual activities. Like the internet, increased access to electronic gadgets like televisions, compact discs, digital video discs and mobile phones, have also contributed to the cause of immoral behaviours among Nigerians today. Through these media, most Nigerians have learnt and embraced cultism, gangsterism, drug abuse, prostitution and violence. When people begin to practice what they learnt from the internet and those electronic gadgets, moral decay becomes the order of the day as we are witnessing in Nigeria today.
The mentality of making money and becoming somebody (the richest man) through corrupt means of acquisition of money and material wealth has invaded and permeated every aspect of Nigerians’ moral life.

There is great lesson to be learnt from American and Chinese youths. American youths are naturally innovative and inventive, American youths are equipped with knowledge of technological inventions and entrepreneurial skills. They start any vocational career from the early stage of life.

It is estimated that 80% of American economy is run by courageous young men and women who persistently solve people needs along with creating and filling a market gap. Although they are far from the center of European of modern civilization, but Chinese youths chanting “Great leap forward “ of Cultural Revolution, today, they pushed their country to become the second most powerful country on earth. And armed with their perfect imitative skills and hard work they compete globally in any sphere of human endeavour. They earn their respect worldwide and they are feared and revered even by America and Europe.

The nation is embroiled with an excessive materialistic ideology that portends doom to our collective morality. The destructive acquisitive instinct of the western capitalism has colonized the Nigerian mind such that the dominant philosophy is to acquire money by all means.

There is a high rate of poverty in the society owing to lack of social justice, as a result, people tend to indulge in immoral activities, just to make the ends meet. As a result of poverty, some young girls have taken to prostitution as a means of livelihood. The after-effects of prostitution have resulted to some young girls contracting AIDS and other venereal diseases while others have met their premature deaths owing to abortion. This accounts for the rapid spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in the society.
Frankly speaking, an atmosphere of discipline has been conspicuously lacking in many Nigerian primary and secondary schools. Although, the considerable increase in school enrolment and the gross inadequacy of material resources and personnel have contributed to indiscipline in schools, the most cardinal factor of indiscipline is in the area of administration, supervision and control. Indiscipline in schools manifests in the following forms: lateness to school, teacher absenteeism, poor environmental sanitation and dirty class rooms, shabbily dressed teachers, strained teacher-headmaster relationship, disrespect for school heads, poor pupil-teacher relationship, and lack of personal professional commitment to duty. These symptoms of indiscipline and disorder assume greater dimensions among the secondary schools, where financial and other exploitation of students, uncontrolled youthful passions, and insubordination abound.

The state of moral decay in Nigeria has some negative impacts on the country, families and individuals. The image of the country in the international arena has become so battered that every Nigerian should psychologically feel a scorching hurt inflicted on his individual psyche. The dent has gone so far that everywhere in the world Nigerians are said to be generally dreaded like mad dogs and criminals, cautiously approached like dangerous snakes, and avoided like lepers.

Lootings have become a recurring decimal in the arena the acclaimed of the giant of Africa known as Nigeria. Monies that should have been used to build industries and create job opportunities for the teeming population. Instead, unemployment has become the order of the day and people are suffering in the midst of plenty. It has the dual effects of boosting the domestic economies of the custodian of the loot and worsening of the economies of the countries from where the money was stolen. The result of the practice is that the gap between the rich and the poor widens as it happens in Nigeria.

Again, the moral degeneration in the Nigerian society has undesirable effects on family, schools, politics and the economy. Moral decay inhibits the prosperous growth and development of the country. The implications of this moral decay include the collapse of family and community life, the collapse of a culture of learning and teaching in schools, negative attitudes of the new generation in thinking that they are entitled to success and riches without working for it, dishonesty and lack of integrity, lack of self-discipline, crime, violence and corruption.
At this stage, there is a need for corrective, and not destructive, discipline, as well as parental love that is devoid of unnecessary pampering.

This period, a child should be encouraged to naturally develop interest in what parents or older children do. Story telling or didactive television programmes are also important means of making children form good habits.

The Nigerian educational system should therefore involve a well-patterned curriculum based on the African world-view of who man is, the type of society man should live and the type of things to be valued. We can only build a solid foundation for our youths by emerging and operating from the crippling disadvantages of colonial culture and a colonized mentality and re-establishing the sovereignty of the Nigerian world view.

The Nigerian education should be for the development of man and not materials; a man of good character, a man who develops his skills and knowledge to the maximum capacity, so as to provide services to others first and himself last; to produce a man whose wealth is to the advantage of the society in which he lives.

The government, no doubt, has a major role to play in checking moral erosion by providing the necessary infrastructure that can make life more comfortable for citizens. Prison conditions should be reformed for better comfort and moral as well as practical training that can make ex-prisoners become better citizens should be intensified.

The police force should also be modernized to effectively meet the demands of the contemporary scientific police operation. Though, the government alone cannot provide the infrastructure for Nigerian’s work force, the socio-economic environment should be made very infrastructural fertile and safe for entrepreneurship and job creation.

The cultural environment is a great determinant of one’s values; that is why some people cannot afford to behave anti-socially in an environment that produces them. Tradition is a factor in one’s upbringing, because it has all the prescriptive laws of moral ethics that are naturally entrenched and rigidly followed.

In this regard, every effort should be made by schools and colleges to introduce courses that are culturally based. By doing this, one will see how materialistic pursuit is seriously relegated for human ennoblement and meritorious achievement.

The print and electronic media should also and act with that consciousness. Right from childhood, children have a policy to constantly feature documentaries on the events that are socially, politically and historically inspiring to the contemporary Nigeria. These should focus, very necessarily, on good governance and leadership qualities.

The heroes of Nigeria’s nationalism, military exploit in the 19th century, particularly, various professionals with unequalled achievements and generally, men and women of honour can be presented as an inspiration to our modern age.

The Nigerian society has roles to play in curbing the prevalent moral decadence in the society. Teachers should see themselves as agents of moral values by emphasizing the importance of those things that are either destructive or constructive to one’s life. Pertinent educative stories as well as literatures that feature various heroic exploits of great Nigerians or Africans should be provided.

As an attempt to further induce or inspire students, prizes that reward various levels of moral excellence should be constantly awarded to deserving students. Secondary school education should be taken very seriously by parents i.e. proper monitoring or guidance of their children becomes important when these children start secondary school, where their characters begin to be formed either positively or negatively.

It is where, for the first time, they are exposed to many mischiefs of those students who have not been properly brought up at home. The teachers, at this level, should also help to instill discipline, in line with those of the early mission schools.

Lastly we should all lift up our voices to God to come and renew the face of the earth.

Sunday ADEAGBO write from Department Of Mass Communication,
Fountain University, Osogbo, Nigeria.

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