A recipe for our moral dilemma
Moral values are the standards by which individuals and societies recognize what is right or wrong. It is the conceptual framework upon which an individual’s sense of discipline is based, thereby guiding their behaviors, characters, attributes, ethics, and attitudes toward themselves and others. Sublime values such as reliability, honesty, sincerity and respect for elders were the most worthy and revered values in various communities in Nigeria. And they are the most precious heritage that parents were proud to pass on to their offspring at all costs. These highly placed and exalted qualities were what kept our societies and the nation generally peaceful, safe, secure and admirable because they engender trust, love, tolerance and respect among the diverse and different people of Nigeria.
Unfortunately, it is evident that these golden values are becoming things of the past, replaced by alien social vices previously unknown. The result is what the nation experiences in terms of serious vices such as bribery, fraud, sexual promiscuity, rape and ritual murder. It has also truncated the safety and security of people and their property.
Moral values are rooted and acquired in the family, religious and educational institutions. Family is the most important of all, as it is the first point an individual comes into contact with after birth. A child is born with an empty mind like a clean slate (Tabula Rasa). The mind is therefore receptive and permeable to any form of knowledge, behavior or attitude that is presented to it. The first teachers are the parents, especially the mother. Therefore, the initial training received forms the basis on which subsequent learning experiences are built. The family is formed by a matrimonial institution, an institution that has both cultural and religious foundations.
However, in our society today, the institution of marriage has been bastardized. The offspring are left at the mercy of nannies, maids or educators for training. It deprives him of the parental bond, care, nurturing and proper upbringing that only a mother can provide. Some families are struggling with harmful, unstable and violent relationships, which can lead to divorce, and the children have to suffer from the problem of broken homes. These children can become heartless, wicked, inhuman and drug addicts, due to lack of parental guidance.
Children are also enrolled in schools where they are expected to be trained as loyal and patriotic citizens. Most parents prefer to enroll their wards in private schools. Only those who do not have the means have recourse to public schools. In both cases, the curriculum, teachers, materials and facilities needed are grossly inadequate. This usually turns children into young unemployed and unemployable.
Similarly, children are sent to religious houses or worship centers, where they are expected to learn the tenets of their religion. There they are expected to learn faithfulness, righteousness, love, compassion, piety, humanity, humility and mercy. But some religious leaders also lack a better understanding of the true teachings of the religion, or have ulterior motives that lead them to display or preach what is totally contrary to true doctrine. They indoctrinate them with poisonous ideologies that will turn them into extremists, fanatics, intolerant and angry adherents.
Thus, community, religious and traditional leaders should consider initiating measures to reform and regenerate the family framework in our communities. Marriages should not be left to couples alone, but community elders, leaders, and clerics should ensure that families are nurturing for desirable citizens. Communities should also monitor what is happening in schools located in their respective localities. They should help schools teach and make their children useful and patriotic citizens who can make the community proud. Communalism must also be restored, and the training, grooming and mentoring of children must be everyone’s responsibility.
With these and other measures, some of the social vices can be eliminated, sanity will be restored, peace will be restored, security will be regenerated, and harmony will be restored in our communities.
Usman Aliyu Elnafaty, DP21, Fadamar Jaji, Behind Federal Secretariat, Bauchi