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Nigeria, a land arid in values and ideologies – D.H. Habeeb

Do people really stand for anything these days? Is it not rare nowadays to meet Nigerians who are actuated by any sets of principles, beliefs or moral standards? Is it not even rarer to encounter present-day politicians who set any great store by ideological considerations in their careers? It is almost as if Nigerians believe that since the pursuit of happiness, defined in this instance only in terms of material acquisition, is possible without any directive precepts for the guidance of morality, further ethical considerations in behavior and attitude impose extraneous burden on society.

In the youth, an arid mind devoid of the fertility and excitement of good education leads to a culture of listlessness which, invariably, is the precursor of warped social values. A mind that does not understand the great questions of why we must believe in the centrality of God to our existence, freedom to unleash our hidden potentials and God-given talents, the need to seek spiritual immortality and other ennobling life pursuits, cannot be impelled towards any moral loftiness. Thus when the meaning of life itself is unclear and the essence of existence is clouded in some vagueness, impressionable minds try to view the world from a lens of comfortable shortsightedness.
These former youths grow up without any moral compass and with an inverted values-system to become apologists for due-process circumvention and chorus boys for the-end-justifies-the-means strategy in the climb of life’s ladder of achievement. This is why such social vices like corruption, nepotism, sleaze, inefficiency etc, are endemic within the Nigerian system. The people under their leaders encourage corruptive tendencies by an over-bloated sense of financial and material entitlement that the latter can only discharge through mindless graft and sundry underhand methods.

A place or country that is almost encouraging of sleaze in her public officials and politicians, of course, is vitiating and stultifying the odium that in other climes would be an essential deterrent to committing the vice. The effect of this is so perniciously widespread that the Nigerian judiciary seems to share in the lack of revulsion in this gradual erosion of values as the temple of justice merely sometimes, gives a slap on the wrist, as penalties or punishments for fraud involving humongous amount of money. No wonder the country is not doing too well in the Transparency International, (TI), corruption perception indices report, which has Nigeria sliding down from last year’s 124th out of 177 countries, to the 144th position this year.

In the political field, this apparent lack of values in the civil society has manifested in what can best be termed as amoral politics: politics completely abstracted from the reality of the people’s existence and condition; politics obsessed with the capture of power and the pompous and self-edifying display of it. Rather than an articulate enunciation of the manifestos of political parties detailing the route to be taken for the welfare of the people, incidentally the raison d’etre of all party formations, political parties in Nigeria, after the Second Republic, seem not to care about the defining ideologies of their parties, opting rather to treat the shades of the political continuum between the two extreme political world-views of progressivism and conservatism, as a vacuum.

That explains why in Nigeria, dyed-in-the-wool conservative politicians think nothing of becoming overnight “bleeding-heart-liberals” of the progressive mould. It is the reason why a reflexive conservative like retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari finds himself surrounded by Awolowo disciples like Chief Ayo Fasanmi, Bola Ige protégé, Chief Bisi Akande and “progressive” poster boy, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The dearth of political ideology in our politics is responsible for the lack of the understanding of the service essence to the people when politicians are in power.

Due to this, the need for garnering a plurality of votes in an election trumps the propriety and necessity of been identified with a course of action; pragmatism supplants reasonableness and rectitude of action. Strange bedfellows become the norm rather than the exception in Nigeria as eclectic arrays of politicians band together without any unifying ideological sameness but with only the single minded pursuit of wrestling power to the patchwork of political coalitions. For example, whatever has compelled Bola Tinubu’s APC to seek the “navigational” prowess of ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP in the political sea of Nigeria is not only intriguing to foremost man of letters, Prof. Wole Soyinka but, also alarming to a lot of Nigerians who have witnessed a few shipwrecks under the same captain!

The unbridled desire for power for its sake, is a direct function of politics devoid of ideology just as the craze for materialism, the de-emphasis on education and the disregard for the dignity of labour are direct fallouts of the inversion of values in the society. The country suffers from indirect and secondary manifestations of these ethical and political failings because our warped sense of values becomes obstructive to ideals of societal greatness while the lack of animating ideologies in our politics promote the rise of politicians removed from issues, alienated from objective realities of the people but fixated on matters of the self.

There must be an admission of these two flaws before a comprehensive effort is made to address them. The solution should be a societal nudge towards a fundamental reappraisal of the ways Nigerians think of, define and perceive life’s success; it should be towards an embrace of old-time values that have become universal as the ingredients of success: hard work; perseverance; good education and integrity. When this is in place, the absurdity and the dubiousness of politicians operating in an ideological void will be so glaring as to compel them to submit their manifestos to the electorate for approval.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2013. 1:41:53 a.m. GMT

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