Tinubu’s Nigeria: The story of our moral, intellectual decadence and paralysis

Tony Abolo


How did we come to this sorry pass, where at all levels of leadership in governance, in today Nigeria, all you see is a mess of values? The indicted, the suspect, the blatantly corrupt or with suspect academic records, are all in positions of authority and top hierarchical, political leadership position in practically all arms of governance.

This sad phenomenon crept in on us, but not surreptitiously. For years we have decried corruption in the nation and the issues of money bags and the influence of corruption and money and our fraudulent electoral process.

The chicken has finally come home to roost. While, through the years, the evils we often complain about in the homes, at drinking joints, in lectures, in schools was festering and affecting old and young and in all sectors of the economy, we never realized that a season like we are in, would come. The fantastically corrupt ones have over the years been plotting how to take over the levers of power. And so the very group in power now, are clearly the dregs of society and the worst in us.
But can we say that these louts represent us, in the way we define ourselves as Nigerians? Nigerians are known for creativity, high intelligence, resilience, hard work, honesty and integrity – those are what we are known for – such behavioural values that rank us with the best in the world. Then where have these, aberrant ones with such despicable and odious behaviour that have not only messed our political leadership and given us such poor image and bad name in the world emerge from? We have not only lost our African ranking and repute, but also in international respectability – all because of the preponderance of not so respectable persons at the top echelons of our leadership.

The world has a different standard of national organization and leadership selection and not this our crass levels. This should cause us to ask, whatever happened to the old cultural standards of ethics, good behaviour and respectability? How did we begin the descent into a moral morass?

Undoubtedly, it was not a day or decade length descent. We will provide a historical anchor. When colonialism came, it introduced us into a monied and paid for labour economy. We were into a system we least understood how it shapes and builds an economy and its political appendage. When the colonialists left and we were left to our deserts to fashion out a political system, we discovered to a shock, that finances drove it.

While the intruders, the colonialists had long developed their capitalist systems, our earliest politicians had no choice but to dip their hands into the public treasury till. This began our awkward political culture in which the treasury and rifling it, was the only source of funding political activities.

Till date, it is the only way. You either “grab it, steal it and run with it” or you have nothing with which to attain political power. Only stealing from the public purse would enable you to attain and sustain political power. And even when you think our private sector capital is imputed, it is those who have been given patronage from the government through a paddy paddy system and over invoicing are those who “claim” they fund political parties.

The mess started from even prior to the 1960 date. We have a choice to clean up the system or continue with corruption and corrupted politics .

The matter is not helped with the current Abudulsalami Abubakar decreed 1999 constitutional and fiscal arrangements, mainly designed to breed, grab, rig in, and elevate mostly incompetent, greedy, looting and conscienceless men and women into power, ably supported and worshipped by a mass of ignorant, ethno religiously brainwashed masses.
Then comes questions our society must answer to itself. It is all about how to restructure along value lanes. What makes a society? Is it the people collectively? Or is it a set of “Big men” whose ideas enthrone a new order for a beneficial societal order? Which values are best for a new, improved and a progressive society? Is the worship of money a glorious thing? Is money not a stored value that should be translated and transmuted into higher and other values, rather than stored up in a warehouse or bank? Should we not pursue merit rather than this debilitating nepotism and ethnicity which does not enable and enable us as a people of exceptionalism and a big Black Hope? There is no way for our nation to rise if we do not reformat our values. Superior values in the key.

How did other nations surge? The so called Western nations used their Christian values as a template to set their private and public values and standards. For example, “Do unto others what you want them to do to you. Give and it shall be given unto you. Seek you the kingdom of God and the rest shall be added into you”. These and many others gave rise to “Rule of Law, Justice, Fairness and Equity” in those societies.

In the case of the Rising Asian Tigers, building from the TAO, Shinto and Hindu religions, they surround their societies with “Hard work, thrift, Family values, Respect for hierarchy, Honour, Societal Harmony”. Today we admire them. But look at Singapore, Taiwan, China, India and see their trajectory of progress.
But where do we lie? Our varied religious values have all been discarded. Those values distilled from our cultures and religions drove the Africans to create the Oyo, Benin, Songhai El Kanemi Empires, all have been discarded and its place, it is vacuousness, incoherence and nothing to write and uplift us as a nation. Hence any upstart with any bumbling ambition and ideas and stolen money can be looked upon as a man of worth.

Money is the only value today and what we worship. The damage it has done through greed and corruption is not frowned at. And hence, today money grabbing is the MIGHT and anyone who has it can dictate the directions of our politics.

The younger ones have nothing to look up to as superior values, except the nihilistic philosophy of Tinubu – grab it, take it and run with it. If all of us adhered to that dictum, we will just be a nation of gabbers, armed robbers, conscienceless people and a people sunk into materialism. We know what makes a society is the superiority of non-material culture. That’s what created Grecian, Mesopotamia, Egyptian civilizations. We may not matter in another 30 years, when we would be 400 million people. We have lost it, as long as those at the upper echelon of society are those who are at the helm of today’s Nigeria.

Tinubu and his ilk are taking us nowhere and even if he is there in another forty year,including those others at the helm today, as long as the values they espouse and trickle down to us are materialistic and not visionary, progressive, developmental and transformative.

What does salvage a society as our present Nigeria is in, is the intellectual class who driven by ideology of growth and development, a passion for excellence and a desire to instituting a moral culture. These provide the vistas of a better country. We had them in our early 6I’s when Professor Kenneth Dike held sway in the University of Ibadan, Prof Eni Njoku in the University of Lagos, Professor Oritsejolomi Thomas in University of Ife, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir in Bayero University, Kano, Prof. Kodilinye at the University of Nsukka. But what do we have now? Intellectual liliputians and those who have succumbed to the corrupt political class and who would rather join a rogue culture in government circles than teach. So how then can the young ones and the entire society be enervated to rise.

Painfully, there seems nowhere to run to. The political class, the religious leaders, the intellectual class seem to have all jumped ship. We are sadly in a paralysis.

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