BusinessDay

Value system, not religion and ethnicity, is Nigeria’s major problem – Author

Frequently, religion and ethnicity are cited as Nigeria’s major problems and as the cause of its under-development. But Henry Akintunde thinks differently, saying that poor value system is the country’s greatest undoing.

Akintunde, who is the author of a new book titled Value Shift, noted in an interview with this reporter in Lagos that even bad political leadership, which is a problem alright, is not the main cause of the country’s under-development.

“If we ask ourselves why we have had one bad government succeeding another bad government for ever, we will realize that it is not because we are just unlucky nor that there is something fundamentally wrong,” he said.

“I have discovered, instead, that our problem lies in our value system. We don’t place any premium on human life. Everything we are suffering from in our political life as a country comes down to our lack of value for human life,” he added.

Giving insights into what the book is all about, Akintunde revealed that, in the book, he has discussed 15 value systems, believing however that, as Africans, we are very good at five of them.

This, he explained, is because not everything about us is bad. “We have good things we can export to the rest of the world. But my visiting Lagos now has made me worry about those values because one of them which is the respect for family institution is now shifting towards the West in terms of how families should be run,” he said.

He said that the books talk about 10 of the value systems that need to change. These 10 have been broken down into three compartments. One is about government-driven value system, the second is about society-driven system while the third is about value-driven organizations which talks about places of work.

Read also: Ethnicity, education, politics can make or mar a nation – Agom

Akintunde, a medical doctor who has been in practice in the United Kingdom for 15 years, insisted that values have to shift at all levels, but fundamentally, it has to start from the level of society because the primary unit of society is the family.

He believes that when a whole society has the right values, it will produce the right leaders and the right government. “That is longer term, but if you think of what needs to happen quickly for us to start moving in the right direction, that’s where leadership becomes paramount,” he advised.

He explained that one person or a group of persons can initiate change that trickles down to the lowest level of society, adding that leaders are capable of building systems that can out-last them.

“So, in terms of what needs to change quickest, it is leadership at all levels—presidents, governors, senators, etc. If we get the right leaders, it will make all the difference because the advantage leaders have is that they can use laws to change cultures. That will be the quickest. Longer term, we need to start building values from the level of families because the so called bad eggs come from families,” he noted.

Akintunde does not support the argument that Nigeria is still a young country while the developed countries have been in existence for years. That if you give us another 100-200 years, we will catch up.

“My research shows that is not true. That ,although the nation Nigeria was put together in 1914, we have had governors, we have history and we also have cultures. So, we have been around a long time. The notion of us being a young country does not apply,” he said.

He hopes that the book he has written, which was launched at the weekend in Lagos, would correct the wrong notions and contradictions that tend to define Nigeria as a country. This hope is premised on the belief that, at any level where we find ourselves, we are change agents which, according to him, is a major take away from the book.

“Every single person can make a change wherever he is. I did not write this book just for the politician or those who aspire to political office. My view is that we are all change agents regardless of where we find ourselves. It is said that, on the average, everybody has 250 persons they influence including family members, church members, work place colleagues, and associations,” he said.

“The second take away is that evil thrives where and when people fail to act. Enough of apathy. It is time for people who have the right values to become more strategic with systems to make a difference. Young people have to be deliberate in making a change by joining political parties from the grassroot. In their teens and twenties, they should join, hoping that in the next 20 years, they will produce the next president. I want that apathy to disappear,” he counseled.

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