Exporting bad behaviour
In every country you visit, Nigerians constitute the greater percentage of foreign inmates in the country’s prisons. Regular or mass deportation of Nigerians has become the norm. In some cases, jungle justice takes over and Nigerians are publicly lynched.
Reports show that in most of the cases, a variety of criminal acts and notably disrespect of the laws and institutions of the visited country have been cited as the reason those Nigerians were incarcerated, deported or killed. Many Nigerians cry foul and scream injustice because at home they could potentially get away with murder. With such culture of impunity, it is not surprising why Nigerians are exporting bad behaviour, in a manner akin to a badly brought up child who carries on with behaving badly outside his home.
Exported bad behaviour is rooted in money. The chase for quick money leads to all sorts of criminality, and it the primary reason numerous Nigerians are in foreign prisons.Nigerians are massacred in South Africa. Nigerians are the most complained about foreigners in Ghana, no one knows what will follow. Nigerians for a variety of selfish reasons, purposely get other Nigerians into trouble in foreign lands. The bad behaviour, without doubt, originated from home in Nigeria. Everything is wrong with Nigeria. Corruption has taken its toll in every aspect of the Nigerian society and life; it has become a norm that nobody sees anything wrong with. If you try to stand in the way, you put your life at risk, and if you get killed there is no justice system in place to seek redress and bring the perpetrators to book. Nobody cares about anybody, and no one seems to care about the absence of law and order in the country and the gross disrespect for her institutions.
Everybody is only desperate about one thing: Money. They will kill anybody and anything that stands between them and money. Try putting a fence around a plot of land you acquired in your village and everybody wants to profiteer from it. The bricklayer, the carpenter, the mason and even your brother who claims to be supervising on your behalf. They are corrupt, morally bankrupt and selfish. People have been killed for the money they sent home to have a house built in their village. Everybody in Nigeria thinks only about himself, nobody is thinking about you, let alone thinking about the country. Things have gone so bad that Buhari said the nation’s value system has been badly eroded over the years and virtues, like honesty, integrity, hard-work, punctuality, good-neighbourliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, had given way to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity. The values the youth now export as they travel out of Nigeria.
Fact is if nothing is done sooner than later, Nigeria and Nigerians will then have to brace for unprecedented levels of criminality and violence comparable to or greater than the days of the Italian Mafia. Obviously, there will be severe visa restrictions towards Nigerians wishing to travel outside the country, as a measure by other countries to curb the importation of Nigerian crimes into their shores. The solution may be in starting now to prepare the future generation because the mind set of the past and present generation is so fixed in all dimensions that it cannot be re-oriented to move the country forward. One needs to immediately focus on children and prepare them for what is yet to come in the future.
The starting point should be by making general school education, free and compulsory or mandatory from primary school age to secondary school leaving age of 6 to 18 years. Education curricula should include, among other subjects or disciplines:
Personal hygiene and safety; acceptable behaviour towards others and the society at large; honesty, integrity and hard-work; corrupt practices (bribery, sexual favours, etc); patriotism and allegiance to the nation of Nigeria; service and sense of duty; general civic duties; compulsory civic education with exams whose results count towards the final qualification.
There should be holistically improved educational standards while universities should be encouraged to provide learning and practice that is relevant to industry and the society at large. Efforts should be geared towards value reorientation and enlightenment to develop youths that are disciplined, well behaved and will stand firm for whatever that is righteous. Youths should be groomed to shun criminality and violence, and rather be innovative and hardworking as a means of survival and to better themselves, youths who will stand up for Nigeria and be proud of their nation and heritage.
To enhance the moral values of Nigerians, that has been eroded over decades, is a daunting task, but can only be achieved with the Federal Government in the driving seat, setting the tone, objectives, targets and milestones to be achieved in an initial five-year period, providing the required resources and appointing a no-nonsense, non-political, non-tribal, non-religious individual with education and social engineering background and experience to run the show across the land, to ensure every child in the country leaving primary school and secondary school understands and appreciates virtues like honesty, integrity, hard-work, punctuality, good-neighbourliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, as the right set of values to project to survive and better themselves in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. For the sake of continuity, the general civic education may also be extended to universities.
Obviously, there will be a need to regularly monitor the performance of the appointee running the show and the national impact of such programme to reorient the moral values of Nigeria and arrest the exportation of bad behaviour. Finally, the government should have an economic strategy in place that will boost the economy to help absorb the multitude of young men and women in Nigeria. Youths gainfully employed will have no time to engage in crimes and violence.
Dr. Okoroafor wrote from Southampton, United Kingdom.
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