In the light of recent disquiet or rather anger in our country Nigeria, possibly highlighted by the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the economy and perceived injustices, it has become imperative and rather urgent to review our situation and proffer possible solutions for the preservation of our future and our sustenance as the people of Nigeria. Achieving our purpose would greatly depend on a Paradigm Shift In Values That Can Preserve Our Future And Sustain Us As People Of Nigeria. American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn, identified paradigm shift as a fundamental change in the basic concepts and perception of events. As such paradigm shift could be called a reform on how things are being done including principles and values of a person or society. Our success as a people of Nigeria would depend not only on how well our economy does, or how advanced we are in science and technology, it will also depend on our ability to build a society that is morally, spiritually and mentally sound.
Unless and until we succeed in boosting social capital, no amount of economic or other development can strengthen our social fabric. This can be the bulwark against the social and moral issues besieging our society today which include: failing values and declining social standards manifesting as insecurity, high rate of crime, rampant killing of innocent citizens, corruption in public and private sectors, indiscipline, the culture of violence, examination malpractices, etc, all pointing at the urgent need to address our country’s social capital. Social ills are symptomatic of an unhappy society. Some factors which have been identified as responsible for these social ills include:
• Lack of parental supervision.
• Lack of moral education.
• Urbanization without principles and set values
• Delinquent behaviour of teenagers
• Contamination of our values by other beliefs and ideologies Values are beliefs about good and important behaviour, whereas principles are basic truths, and guiding rules for behaviour in the society (moral principles). Values include loyalty, commitment, dependability, reliability, consistency, etc. There are however core values which are fundamental beliefs of a person, organization or a society. These core (social) values – truth, freedom, justice and love – are natural in the dignity of the human person whose development they help to grow. Putting them into practice is the sure and necessary way of obtaining personal perfection and a more human social co-existence.
They, therefore, constitute the indispensable point of reference for public authorities called to carry out “substantial reforms of economic, political, cultural and technological structures and the necessary changes in institutions.” These core values shall therefore constitute the bedrock of our quest for paradigm shift. There are however, some positive and negative values people might have about life. The Positive values include the following beliefs:
• The power of God. (RELIGION)
• The family is of fundamental importance. (FAMILY).
• The human life is inherently valuable. (LIFE)
• Honesty is always right, and that trust has to be earned (HONESTY AND TRUST).
• Maintenance of a healthy work/ life balance. There are also negative values which include: • Self-interest or greed
• Fear or insecurity
• A belief that people are power less to change their fates or personal situations
• A belief that some people are fundamentally untrustworthy and unloving.
• A belief that life is meaningless.
• A belief that the world is a fundamentally brutal place where only the strong survives (Survival of the fittest). There are, unfortunately, numerous people who have these negative values in our country today, but the importance of essential core values of life remain constant. The Truth should always be upheld. We all have that specific duty. When the coexistence of people in a community is founded on truth, there is development and the community flourishes. The more people and social groups strive to resolve social problems according to the truth, the more they distance themselves from abuses and act in accordance with the objective demands of morality.
Those who uphold the truth in our country today should far exceed those who shift in values that can preserve our future and sustain us as people of Nigeria churn out lies (alternative truths or “fake news”), by whichever name it is called. Freedom is the natural right of every created human being to be recognized as a responsible being. The right to the exercise of freedom especially in moral and religious matters is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. Freedom is respected, when every member of society can fulfill his personal vocation, seek the truth and profess his religious, cultural and political ideas, express his opinions, choose his state of life, line of work, pursue initiatives of an economic, social or political nature, without any hindrance.
Freedom must be expressed as the capacity to objectively refuse what is morally wrong or negative, in whatever guise it is presented. For example, one should be able to stand up against infringement of the common good of the society. Freedom goes with responsibility always. Caution and responsibility that go with freedom should not be thrown overboard. Accountability should always be upheld. Justice is fairness in the way people are treated. It is that behaviour that is based on the will to recognize the other as a person. Its classical meaning consists in the constant and firm will of one to treat others as he/she would wish them to treat him/her.
Justice can betray itself unless it is open to that deeper power of love. Love often seen in the context of relationships of physical closeness or great interest and pleasure in something should also be seen in its authentic value as the highest and universal measure of the value of social ethics. It is from love that the values of truth, freedom and justice are born and nurtured. Human life in society is ordered, it bears fruit of goodness and responds to human dignity when it is founded on truth, lived in justice and is brought about in the freedom that brings benefits to the dignity of men and women who accept responsibility for their actions. Love transcends justice.
Human relationships cannot be governed entirely by the measure of justice. There is also “mercy,” thus the saying “temper justice with mercy”. No legislation, no system of rules or negotiation will ever surpass the appeal of love in persuading people to live in unity, and peace. In Conclusion, our country Nigeria as a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society, with diverse backgrounds and values and with more than two hundred and Fifty (250) ethnic tribes, including the three major tribes – Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo, and other smaller groups like the Fulani, Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, Tiv and Edo and many others, now more than ever before, needs to shift from the previous ways of acrimony to more harmonious ways based on the afore-stated values, for the good of all the people of Nigeria. Preservation of our future and our sustenance as a people depend on objective principled moral foundation and development thereon.
Sound moral values, along with spiritually focused strong families, are key to building a peaceful and stable community. This will then lead to a strong and stable nation where our future is preserved and our sustenance as a people guaranteed. The paradigm shift in values which we need to preserve our future and sustain our oneness as Nigerians is long overdue and in fact, has to start right now if we wish to salvage our country and its people from gradual but sure decay and destruction. The shift should include the following objectives:
To improve our quality of life and address prevailing negative trends in our society.
To introduce counseling programmes involving family institutions and the promotion of noble values. To preserve and nurture these noble values which will act as a shield against social ills that plague society.
Parents must be increasingly concerned about the quality of family life and take steps to instill in their children the moral values needed to build a strong, stable and cohesive foundation for society.
There should be a continuous programme of moral strengthening and reinforcement to make everybody especially the children aware of their responsibilities to themselves, their families (parents), their community and the nation.
Way Forward (Quo Vadis),
We need to look inwards and do some soul searching as a nation and restore our core values and develop our patriotism.
Apply the afore-listed core social values to our economic, political and social strata.
Overhaul our Educational system to produce men and women to be found worthy in character and in learning, capable of being employed and also capable of employing labour.
Complete reorientation of most of our processes, and inculcating core values therein. God bless Nigeria.
• Lady Victoria Uzoigwe, Ladies of St. Mulumba, Isolo Sub-Council, Lagos, excerpts of a paper delivered by Lady Victoria Uzoigwe, former Worthy President of Ladies of St. Mulumba, Lagos Metropolitan Council at the 1st Quarter Conference of KSM, Isolo Sub-Council. Nigeria.