Please forgive me for reproducing this article which I wrote almost 4 years ago and which was originally published here on November 13, 2023. It just felt appropriate, considering the raging controversy over the bizarre death of Mohbad, an upcoming musical artist. Once again, we are called to examine more closely our collective moral code. Almost 4 years later, it appears like the chicken may have come home to roost.
We live in a society which believes you’re nothing if you don’t have money or power. We have an educational system which does little or nothing to ingrain the concept of team spirit and other crucial leadership ideals into the minds of our children, the leaders of our tomorrow. So, they graduate from school albeit top of their class, already shackled by the self-serving mindset of a ruler rather than that of a leader. Next, they enter the job market and strive admirably hard to reach the top of their chosen profession, primarily pushed by the all-consuming belief that in this environment, only money and power which come with position actually matter. When they eventually get there however, what do they do? What do you expect a person already driven by a ruler’s mindset to do when he eventually gets his hands-on power? I’m sorry, I can’t offer any medals for answering that correctly.
Truth is, one thing man wasn’t created or instructed to have dominion over, was his fellow man. Everything else, yes. And that’s why globally, there have always been conflicts; because we continue to try. Unfortunately, we’re yet to fully understand this and until we do, our society will continue to suffer because oppression will know no bounds. Obeying or upholding the rule of law, strict adherence to laid out procedures, best practices and all that mean nothing to a ruler except of course when it becomes a handy tool to silence dissenting voices and to emasculate opposition. This explains why I’ve been known to “throw” deadly frowns of disapproval to those who are so quick to introduce me or refer to me as a motivational speaker. I can think of no greater disservice to humankind than to motivate a rogue into believing he can make it by simply sticking fast to my magic formula for success.
I mean no disrespect to motivational speakers as we all need them once in a while but I strongly believe that to substitute the development of character and adoption of wholesome values as the starting point, can only be to our detriment. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Big ups to Theodore Roosevelt from whose quote I borrowed the title of this piece. I never get tired of quoting him where he said, “to educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society”.
We find ourselves in a pathetic place where leading figures in the seven spheres of society (Religion, business and media to name a few) have perfected the art of normalising wrong and our youths are gleefully gobbling it all up, hook, line and sinker. Outright stealing and cheating in commercial transactions has been euphemised as “business”. Unabashed cross carpeting and political prostitution where ideology is all but bereft now parades itself as “just politics”. I believe you get my meaning.
We find ourselves in a pathetic place where leading figures in the seven spheres of society (Religion, business and media to name a few) have perfected the art of normalising wrong and our youths are gleefully gobbling it all up
I must commend all our corporate organisations who do their worthy bit in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). God knows we need it, especially in a nation where governments find themselves hampered by the twin “evils” of inadequate revenue and crass kleptocracy which leaves little to actually utilise, at least for those who have any intention of positively impacting the lives of their people. Just recently, the man of the moment, the current Governor of Oyo state, Seyi Makinde, who so far appears to be amongst the most forthright, purposeful and sincere in this current crop of Governors, though it’s still early days, shot a vicious salvo at his predecessor.
He claimed that in Ajimobi’s administration, contracts were executed from the 10 percent remaining after various deductions had been made by “interested” parties; meaning it wasn’t even the entire 10 percent that was used to execute because the contractor too would still take his profit from that 10 percent! And we wonder why roads don’t last more than a month or two before potholes reappear. It’s simple; what you put in will determine what you get out of it. Anyway, back to the CSR matter. Building classrooms, mini parks and the like are fantastic projects but my concern is the mindset of the beneficiaries of these laudable projects.
I just believe that programs which focus on developing the character of the beneficiaries and other stakeholders will help the physical projects to endure and succeed in serving their purpose. Yes, it’s irrefutably true that our illiteracy level is shamefully high but to be honest, the main deficiency amongst our so-called leaders isn’t one of academic credentials but of critical leadership qualities and glaring moral redundancy. We have a beautiful state of the art hospital built in Akwa Ibom by the immediate past administration. This health facility is truly one of its kind in this country. There’s just one problem. It hasn’t operated for one day. After all the billions pumped into it.
I feel piqued when I see adverts on billboards, BRT buses and other mediums, where the same corporate organisations that carry out all these commendable projects opt to employ the services of celebrities with highly questionable character to advertise their products; thereby inadvertently contributing in raising generations of Nigerians whose moral emptiness can only result in the failure and decay of the same infrastructural projects they spent so much to develop.
To name one, is this fellow. This is someone currently facing a case of internet fraud with EFCC and is still wanted in London for robbery and sexual assault by the Lewisham police. His fans nauseatingly call themselves Marlians and their ever-increasing number speaks volumes. Call me old fashioned but this obvious reference to the legendary Bob Marley especially offends my sensibilities. The iconic musical artist and world-renowned activist was and continues to be celebrated for a more noble worldview. Naira Marley on the other hand ascended new heights of infamy when he recently pronounced that a woman is far better off having a big backside than having a Master’s degree.
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Ironically, as odious as this may sound, he may not be that far off, if we’re to go by our prevailing moral standards. It’s just a shame that the concerned organisations either don’t care or are oblivious to just how much damage their actions continue to cause by promoting such people as role models to our children. Commerce must have boundaries which should not be crossed no matter the financial appeal, as there must be a place reserved for ethical behaviour if we don’t want to sear our collective conscience completely. At this point I’m constrained to repeat what I said earlier; what you put in will determine what you get out of it. Seeds will always produce fruits of their kind so we better be extra careful of the kind of seeds we sow.
Changing the nation…one mind at a time.