Many a time one hears Nigerians say “We are in Nigeria, let’s do it the Nigerian way”. There is a catalogue of such expression and I don’t intend to enumerate all of them. What is important to note is that such expressions, if well understood to note is that our moral values are in their lowest ebb, that in our national ethics, the end justices the means.
It is known today that in Nigerian society both private and public sectors are morally bankrupt. Very few people ever ask what will be good for their neighbours. The majority of Nigerian citizens are ready to go to any place and length and to use any means at their disposal whether fair or not to acquire whatever they want. In the Daily Times of Nov. 5, 1977, Olu Awotesu has this to say of the Nigerian situation:
“Nigeria is indeed a sick country, sick and rotten all over. She is sick because we are not honest, we are not sincere. The military who came to save the situation, are no better. They appoint incompetent people as civil commissioners and top government functionaries. Double standard, cheating and sectionalism characterize our society”
No wonder then, the cause of justice is perverted openly in order to protect a few. Take for example, when highly placed citizen commits an offence, all he needs to do is to beckon to his old school-mates, secret society colleagues, ethnic relation or social club members to come to his rescue. And invariably they come to his aid, of course neutralizing all the law enforcement agents. In other words justice and fair play mean nothing to the majority of Nigerians. A statement from a top government, in his book The man died, confirms what I am trying to say when he said:
“Sometimes Wole, we have to do things which…we know are wrong…Really bad. But this is the set up…there are things I have seen here which make me…disbelieve in such a thing as justice”
The point that I am making is that in Nigeria, for reasons which seem inexplicable, most people irrespective of their education are materialistic in outlooks, everyone wants more money and property to the extent that many would not scruple to resort to any means, mostly foul, to acquire them. The general idea carried over from pre-independence days, that all money belong to government and therefore anyone can help himself to it, has not much helped the situation. It has led to wastefulness and downright theft of public money even by some people who by virtue of education should know better. Civil and other government servants whose number must perforce be increased to meet expanding departments and function indulge in large-scale bribery and corruption for the sake of acquisition of personal property instead of protecting the government treasury and increasing administrative efficiency.
Purely for the sake of satisfying political, family or other demands, there is mass promotion, often of inexperienced and unqualified persons to post in the higher grades for which they are not suited by temperament, character or training.
The police is no better. They make their daily collection of money from passengers lorry drivers for all sorts of fictitious traffic offences. They are “disappointed” when a person’s car particulars are in order. The customs officers still fake documents relating to import and other duties and pocket the difference. Some doctors are even known to give false certificates in respect of insurance and other claims. Military personnel engage in smuggling. Lawyers swindle their clients in respect of any claims. Officials who are provided with their own private means of transport still use government vehicles for non-official purposes such as attending funeral ceremonies and shopping. Indeed, to get anything done in Nigeria, even procuring passport or finding a job, one must know the man concerned, or one must work through someone who knows the big man; if one does not happen to know someone who knows the big man the one must find someone who knows someone else who knows the big man. The list can be multiplied ad infinitum but it will suffice to end by remarking that the Nigeria society is a society of growing permissiveness and disregard for objective standards of morality, a society of greedy-economics and inhuman treatment of the poor, a society where morality has lost much of its transcendental value and largely its bearings.
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