The greatest gift nature bestowed on the human race is conscience—an attribute man-made machines can never master. It is from conscience that morals are established. Parenting and societal standard play a major role in shaping the moral aptitude of an individual. More often than none the liberty to choose between good or bad form the majority of the crises that goes on in our minds irrespective of how it manifests and throughout our life time. But in a morally corrupt or derailed society the bad often prevails over the good because the practices of the society becomes the yardstick for every individual action and takes the place of conscience.
According to Ayn Rand in her novel: Atlas Shrugged “when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours—when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty become a self-sacrifice—you know that your society is doomed”. How these words portray the Nigerian society should be left to the reader’s analysis. But the question still remains how we got to where we are as a society, how that cord of traditional values and morals broke.
Africa claims to be a continent where cultural and traditional morals which binds the community are sacredly revered and respected. An average African community tries to maintain its distinctiveness. While it may associate with other communities through commerce, every community tend to guide their identity jealously. The beauty of this is that most of the morals of good and bad are way very similar across many nations of Africa. In modern times where different nations have been merged together to form governmental territories controlled by “societal standard” (the legal system), it seems most of these values and moral standards have been lost somewhere in between. That which is bad has grown to attract a large amount of followership, that societal standard have been overwhelmed and have broken down. The followership are often influenced by greed, selfishness and the quest for control at any cost.
From leadership to followership the majority of this lot exert a great deal of control. For instance in Nigeria, the leadership (a few elite) has often influenced a substantial amount on its uneducated followership (if not all) and majority of the decent elites fall in between—they have always been at the receiving end of the morally bereft and ignorant followers, and the greedy elite—and are often left with two choices—to join the system or stay mute as individuals. Hence, when people say that the country needs to be restructured, it is the existing structure as earlier mentioned that needs to be restructured. We must remember that it is the failure of a particular structure (regionalism) that brought us to a Federal structure with the intention of evenly developing every state. Comparing our system with the American style may be a bit ignorant as it fails to consider the condition of the two countries.
The major factor why America remains a great country is because her currency is the currency of the world. America as a laissez faire country has its economy run by individuals and not the states, regional or the central government, and to posit that the various states run their resources is almost not true. For instance, if crude is found under my landed property, I am automatically the owner of the crude underneath my land, and I can enter a contract as the owner of the crude with any industry interested in extracting the crude from my land for profit. The center controls defence, currency/reserve, and fiscal policies to an extent regulate the economy. Internally generated revenue are due from oil, taxes, production of military hardware amongst others.
Our problems as a country are weak laws (often left that way to be exploited); weak individuals with the lowest sense of morals running weak institutions; and a substantial amount of the followership, left uneducated only to be utilised to commit social vices. If basic societal standards are jealously protected the countries growth will be stimulated. The basic societal standard will consist of laws to be implemented on anyone found wanting without fear or favour and to treat every individual equally regardless of ethnicity, and religion.
In conclusion, while morals may be distinct from societal standard as upheld by law; morals may often be personalised and circumvented but not to the detriment of the law. For instance, it is moral for two wrongs not to validate an action, meaning that if I should punish anyone for the wrong, it would be the two wrongs for being wrong—to justify one wrong to the detriment of the other while applying the law will lower such standard. Thus, standard is eroded, society is doomed.
By: Ajilore Dehinde