Many scholars have questioned the reason behind the poverty that persists in most countries, particularly in Africa. While some attribute it to corruption, this to my mind, is merely one of the factors contributing to poverty. The root cause lies in the fact that many countries with predominantly poor population lack a culture that fosters wealth creation.
Culture is a concept that has been defined in various ways by different scholars. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, culture encompasses the entire way of life of a particular group of people. This includes their individual attitudes, values, beliefs, artistic expressions, scientific advancements, mode of perception, and habitual patterns of thought and behaviour. Although cultural features are acquired through learning, they are often so ingrained and all-encompassing that they may be difficult to recognize from an internal perspective.
Many public intellectuals have emphasized the profound impact that culture has on our collective behaviours and attitudes. In this particular article, we will dissect broad societal trends without invoking any particular judgement regarding their desirability. Our arguments are rooted in the fundamental observation that a society’s value system holds the keys to its development.
Upon closer examination of the developmental challenges facing our society, a disturbing trend emerges: the culture of impunity. This pervasive norm has hindered our progress towards achieving sustainable development and left us with little to show for our efforts.
While an apology can never erase the damage caused by poor leadership, it can however serve as an indication of accountability and a willingness to do better
Apology without action
Of concern is the effectiveness of apologies from a few leaders at state and federal levels who have failed to lead their citizens satisfactorily. What is the purpose of an apology if a leader’s actions do not match his or her words? Some of our leaders have told the world that they have delivered on “change agenda.” But over the past decade, we have witnessed a significant misalignment between monetary, fiscal, and trade policies, negatively impacting nearly half of the citizens of the country grappling with rising inflation, unemployment, insecurity, and poverty.
While an apology can never erase the damage caused by poor leadership, it can however serve as an indication of accountability and a willingness to do better. One sees it as a gesture that acknowledges the pain and suffering experienced by the people and promotes the beginning of a healing process.
However, an apology must be accompanied by concrete actions and changes that address the root causes of the issues faced by citizens. It is not enough to apologize and then continue with business as usual. Come May 29, 2023, we are likely to have a new set of leaders who may not measure up to our expectations but will likely apologize for their lack of commitment.
Leaders ought to show genuine commitment and take bold steps towards real change, such as instituting sound economic policies and investing in education, healthcare, and infrastructure to uplift the lives of their citizens. Many leadership enthusiasts believe that leaders should strive to create a better future for all citizens, and that begins with accountability, humility, and a sincere desire to make amends.
The failure to motivate and empower most of our people to be productive has resulted in a heavy reliance on imported goods. We spend trillions of Naira to import kerosene, petrol, gas oil, motor cycles and cycles as well as fairly used cars and fairly -used clothes amongst other items. One wonders when Nigeria will be self -sufficient and self-reliant.
Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk To Freedom”, includes an anecdote about Reverend Andre Schefer, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church, who notes that whenever problems arise, solutions must be found. However, in Nigeria and most African countries, excuses are often made instead of finding solutions. This “blame game” culture involves subordinates blaming leaders and vice versa, hindering progress and preventing effective problem-solving.
Undoubtedly, the measure of a nation’s economic strength is closely tied to its level of technological development. Science, with its pursuit of natural laws, and technology, which applies these laws to create tools for use by humanity, are key contributors to a nation’s prosperity.
Despite this fact, Nigeria’s progress in these areas has been unimpressive at best. To deny this reality would be to ask: to what extent has Nigeria invested in its own scientific and technological capabilities? Due to a significant portion of the population being illiterate, science, technology, and industry are yet to become deeply ingrained components of Nigeria’s modern value system, remaining a source of confusion and mystification for many.
It is crucial to acknowledge the root causes of Nigeria’s chronic poverty, which cannot be remedied by religion alone. Rather, the country must prioritize its economic objectives and implement effective measures to alleviate the hardships faced by over 130 million impoverished citizens. Unfortunately, many Nigerians are unable to save money due to poverty, leading to a lack of investment and thus, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. Even if one is able to save, it would be eroded by inflation.
Despite the rise of religious institutions and educational facilities in Nigeria, it begs the question as to why their proliferation has not led to a significant shift in the attitudes towards the natural world amongst the populace. Rather than striving for excellence based on merit, there appears to be a growing culture of embracing mediocrity in society.
This trend is evident in the widespread acceptance of unscientific beliefs even among the educated population. Furthermore, Nigeria’s strong inclination towards religiosity has had a detrimental effect on its economic development, as evidenced by the meteoric rise of the religious industry at the expense of traditional manufacturing firms.
Urban development is facing a growing issue as religious institutions forcefully occupy prime commercial real estate locations in some states. Such a trend is of concern as it begs the question of their impact on the development of our cities.
Moreover, there is a pervasive scepticism towards some members of society’s capacity to manage public funds, which stems from a history of disappointment and potential misconduct. This notion is aptly illustrated by the saying, “If you can’t be trusted with small things, how can you be expected to be trusted with big things?” Ultimately, we must ask ourselves why this is the case and what it means for the future.
Religion versus economy- who wins?
The ongoing tension between religion and economic development in the country is yet to produce a concrete answer. For a more in-depth understanding of this conflict, a few scholars suggest reading Max Weber’s renowned work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
In this book, Weber posits that religious beliefs and the associated character traits can greatly influence a person’s ability to generate wealth. However, it is important to note that wealth creation cannot be solely attributed to any particular religion. If this were the case, Nigeria – with its deeply religious society – would undoubtedly be the wealthiest country in the world. Unfortunately, this is not the reality we observe.
According to Weber’s “The Spirit of Capitalism,” true wealth creation is not simply about spending and consumption, but rather the efficient utilization of resources and talents. A culture of utilizing resources and talents is one where individuals, organizations and the entire nation focus on maximizing the resources available to them, including both tangible resources such as money and equipment, as well as intangible resources such as knowledge and expertise.
This type of culture encourages the development and utilization of individual talents and skills, as well as collaboration and teamwork to achieve common goals. This typically leads to efficient and effective use of resources, as well as improve productivity and innovation. Overall, a culture of utilizing resources and talents helps to create a thriving and successful environment for individuals and organizations alike. Thank you
To be continued