Oct.1 : Nigeria At New Crossroad, Has Important Choice To Make - Prof. Akeredolu-Ale - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Oct.1 : Nigeria At New Crossroad, Has Important Choice To Make - Prof. Akeredolu-Ale


             •Prof. Bolanle Akeredolu-Ale


| The Daily Crucible | Published Thursday,  September 30, 2021


Nigeria In Turmoil,  Nigeria Adrift,  Nigeria At 61


By Prof. Bolanle Akeredolu-Ale

    Introduction
I thank the Executive of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ogun State Council for asking me to give this presentation, as part of the events scheduled for the 2021 Independence Day Anniversary Lecture. I feel highly honoured and I am very delighted to be here, in the midst of so many distinguished people.
Without being too academic, I would like to start my presentation with this true-life case. This is a story of a three-year old boy who tried drawing imaginary fuel from his toy bike to his toy motor car with a straw and he so excitedly shouted, ”I am drawing fuel from my bike to my car”. Because for a long time he had watched his dad drawing fuel from his car to his wife’s car ever so often due to fuel crises in the Country. 

Without wanting to sound too alarming and insensitive, there is something ominous about the Nigerian situation. The whole thing seems bound for some great, and possibly final disaster. Nigeria, to me at 61 is at war not only within herself but also with herself. Nigeria is in the throes of a grave moral, physical and spiritual crises. It has arrived at a new crossroad. And has an important choice to make – to reverse herself or, at least, change course in some major way. The manifestations of this reality are there for all who care to see. 
Too many institutions are failing. Orderly social life, overall human well-being, human solidarity, peace and security are all in serious jeopardy all because the institutions that should safeguard Nigerian’s integrity have compromised their mission. Untruthfulness, lying and corruption are prevalent even among those who operate institutions, such as, banks, the judiciary, the press. religious organizations, the research industry and educational institutions.
Look around you, wherever you live today in the country. What do you see? Think deeply about the Nigerian situation and the Nigerian condition, as you perceive them, as well as about your place in all this. What is your overall assessment? That Nigeria is a joyful place that should continue along its present path? Or that Nigeria is a sick place, so much worse than it had been in the past? Do you see Nigeria as being in good shape today or do you find it to be in turmoil, upside-down and adrift? Are corruption, injustice and violence pervasive and more serious in Nigeria today, or are they not? Indeed, has Nigeria steered itself into the Age of Corruption, Decadence and Violence, or has it not? 
If this may serve as a consolation. Nigeria is not alone on this path. The whole world is being affected -  all kinds of very dangerous toxic wastes; global warming; reckless materialism; the growing prevalence of anxiety, stress, confusion, mental illness; warped sexual orientations and habits; an unprecedented level of conflict and violence; a concept of individual freedom that fuels decadence and many social problems and is already subverting, on a global scale, ethical consciousness and social discipline? And now to crown it all the COVID-19 pandemic.

The contemporary situation in Nigeria is very terrible, both in the scope and depth of the depravity. Nigeria today, more than ever before, is in turmoil and adrift. As mentioned earlier, it is filled with corruption, injustice, conflict, violence, fear, anxiety, insecurity, terrible human suffering The Nigerian situation is in need of urgent and desperate rescue, correction and rehabilitation, if the progression to total failure, collapse and ruin is to be stopped and reversed. The love of money, worldly gadgets and pleasures of the flesh and the resulting escalation of the desperate rat-race to acquire these things have overwhelmed our ethical concerns, in particular, the concern for justice, truth, compassion, harmony and peace.

Of the factors which have contributed significantly towards the predicaments of the Nigerian situation, the following are among the most decisive:
Ignorance
Escalation of materialism and worldliness
Emergence and growth of the rat-race
Greed
Impunity
Growing confusion and insanity 
Poor spiritual and moral leadership
    Need I point out that crime is now a major problem in Nigeria and the callous and brutal manner in which crimes are executed is, in very many cases, astonishing, truly mind-boggling, especially as most crimes are committed by ordinary human beings in full control of their faculties, rather than by certified lunatics or other psychiatric cases.  Violent crime has become so rampant.  Murder, arson, other forms of vandalism, rape, herders and farmers’ clashes, kidnapping (for ransom), robbery, political thuggery and assassinations, torture often entailing severe and brutal physical and emotional mutilations – all these have become so common that they seem normal aspects of the Nigerian situation.  
One particularly worrisome aspect of the prevalence of violent crimes is the sheer depth of cruelty, the utter lack of compassion and compunction that criminals often display in their evil doings.  Diabolically-wicked acts are perpetrated by human beings against other human beings like themselves often without remorse. Vigorous trade in commodities known to be highly hurtful to human well-being, as long as it is lucrative, e.g., arms and ammunition, hard drugs, cigarettes, and outputs of the pornography industry.
More and more Nigerians are thinking and acting like lunatics.  Consider, for example, the pervasiveness in Nigeria of the political leadership, towards power and public resources, heinous crimes against life and property, corruption, senseless violations of the law and of well-established moral codes, senseless avarice and greed, and so on.  
It is a great pity, that at 61, the Nigerian economy is ailing, in particular, and far from responding appropriately or adequately to the needs of Nigerians.  The following are some of the symptoms of the ailment:
Soaring food prices and the increasing danger of hunger
Non-availability or prohibitive prices of most other necessities
Chronic mass poverty and economic hardship
High level of corruption in corporate management 
Unprecedented and rising levels of unemployment 
Prevalence of excessive inequality in the distribution of income and wealth 
Increasing economic insecurity 
Increasing threats to the security of property, due to the prevalence of wars, conflict, crime, vandalism and of the whole culture of rebellion and violence
Declining worker commitment, motivation and loyalty, which tends to limit gains in productivity expected from innovations in production technology
The Nigerian society is now awash with narcotic drugs, the dependence of young and middle-aged persons on the most harmful of these drugs has continued to escalate in spite of all the efforts to curb and possibly eradicate the drug trade.  
I must not conclude without mentioning the Nigerian’s Festering Youth Problem. A lot of Nigerian youth are mostly maladjusted, confused and demoralized. One overall implication of this worrisome youth situation is that young Nigerians are not really in a good position to make their optimum contribution to the well-being and progress of their own communities and the country. And sadly, in effect, they are largely, for no fault of theirs, more a part of the problem than of the solution.  
Many of the serious problems which afflict Nigeria today can be traced to the lapses which have occurred and are still occurring in the raising, guidance and grooming of children and young people or to the reaction of youth to prolonged abuse by the parent generation and by the prevailing economic, social and political order, or to both.
Young Nigerians, in large numbers, have been alienated economically, socially, culturally, emotionally and mentally. The youth situation is characterized by pervasive parental neglect and/or misguidance; acute shortage of opportunities for effective all-round development; full exposure of youth to serious value crisis, even as institutions and processes of moral education and guidance are themselves becoming weaker and less effectual.  Nigeria is not only abusing its youth, it is harassing, frustrating humiliating and demoralising them, and in very large numbers too.
Young people, in large numbers, in Nigeria and all over the world are bombarded with messages emphasizing competition, consumption and ‘the good life’ but most of them are finding that they lack a fair opportunity to compete successfully, just as they lack the wherewithal with which to participate in the consumption spree or in the good life which such participation is to bring.  
What is happening now, it would appear that young people in Nigeria have had about as much as they would take from an abusive and very frustrating life.  They are hitting back at a country that denies them the encouragement, support, opportunities, fulfilment and dignity which, quite rightly, they believe they deserve.  Widespread youth involvement in serious crimes against life and property, wanton lawlessness and vandalism by young people, perennial unrest in higher educational institutions, a tendency to resort readily to violence, youth militancy, the ready availability of young people to go on suicide missions, and involvement in cybercrimes and the yahoo yahoo syndrome – all these are the boomerang effects of the failure of Nigeria to pay adequate attention and devote adequate resources to the guidance, development and well-being of young people. 
CONCLUDING REMARKS - PROSPECTS: BETWEEN HOPE AND DESPAIR
Now, let us look around us: our immediate community.  Consider and contemplate what we see going on around us: the conditions and life-situations of people around us; the problem of survival which seems to overwhelm all but a few; the way the country is being run and, the victimisation and oppression of the poor and weak; the pervasiveness of conflict, violence, crime and insecurity; the utter chaos and confusion prevalent in the society.  And please add the economic and health crunch the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the whole world!
Ladies and gentlemen, and to people of my generation, let me admonish us to look at Nigeria! In as much as I want to be hopeful. And as I am searching for the light at the end of the tunnel, the questions that are always resounding and reverberating in my mind are:
Will Nigeria be capable of self-correction?  Or, can it be that Nigeria is doomed and forsaken forever? What really is the significance and what are the important implications of the Nigeria’s present state of turmoil, confusion and drift?  And what is anyone supposed to do about it? Indeed, what can anyone do? Is there still any hope for Nigeria? How, if at all, can Nigeria overcome this predicament? What will it take to restore Nigeria to the path of justice, enduring peace and wholesome prosperity? Are all efforts at improving Nigeria unavoidably futile, as all such efforts had proved in the past? Will those who have brought Nigeria into this failure and misery be punished? When, by whom and by what means? Or are they covered by some ‘immunity clause’? Is Nigeria going to change course and commence true progress anytime soon or, indeed, ever? 
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, without meaning to sound cynical, there are just no easy answers. These questions are pretty difficult to answer. But one thing is clear: that the state of turbulence and drift which now prevails the country is fraught with grave danger and demands Nigerians, including you and me, a sober reflection on the challenges and prospects of the country as we mark the thirty plus thirty-one years of the existence of the country. Nobody knows for sure how and in what direction Nigeria will proceed from the crossroads where it now stands, how and in what direction it will resolve the crisis which currently engulfs her. My heart bleeds as I stand before us, to say Nigeria, as it now stands, is basically unstable.
And that is where you and I come in! To get Nigerians to embark seriously on honest self-review. And to these questions I have raised, I hope we find answers as we listen to the guest speaker, Barrister Femi Aborisade make his contributions on the topic –“Nigeria at Crossroads: Who and What would Save the Masses?”
Once again, Mr Chairman, Rt. Hon. Olukunle Oluomo, I thank the Executive of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ogun State Council for asking me to give this presentation and thank you all for listening to me. 


Being a text of speech of Professor (Mrs) Bolanle Akeredolu-Ale, a  Communication practitioner, researcher, an orator and the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) at the Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB), Abeokuta, Ogun State, which was delivered as a keynote speaker at the 2021 Independence Day Anniversary Lecture organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ogun State.

The lecture took place at the NLC secretariat in Abeokuta on September, 30. 


Reference
Akeredolu-Ale, E. O. (2011) Soul of Religion, Bamboo Publications, Ibadan.

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