The strength of a nation relies substantially on the outlook of the smallest unit that makes up a society. The smallest unit is the family. Let’s go back to primary school; the family is divided into either nuclear family or extended family. However, attempting to pigeonhole family into those two categories would be quite myopic. The nature of the family determines a plethora of pivotal things within a society but the most important of all is the kind of people that are emerging from these families.
A holistic look at this would trigger a very depressed expression and façade because the happenings in the society today simply reflect thedeficiency of moral values and norms in the family. Apportioning blame is not the focus here but truth be told, our parents have abdicated their parental roles to God knows whom. Our parents instead of upholding our cultural values have decided to compete with the younger generations in the areas of fashion, politics, jobs and other life endeavours, not minding if their actions arenegative or positive. How can such people have the moral capability to correct their children who are looking up to them as role models?
It’s unsurprising to observe the outrageous fashion trend that has overwhelmed the society. Married women can’t be differentiated from young ladies. They both want to look good. If you are not careful you would be wooing a married woman waiting for her husband! Don’t be shocked if the married woman responds kindly to the sweet-tempting words of the young chap. I have heard many arguments about why women have embraced lewd and tasteless dress sense. One is that they don’t want the vibrant and aggressive covetous young ladies; they are competing with to ‘steal their husbands’. Therefore, they have to be attractive to their husband by wearing sexually arousing clothes. No matter what, there is no justification for this because our religious and moral values do not espouse such excesses. Perhaps, more women should become catholic sisters.
Furthermore, the decline of family values can be seen on campuses, the Nigeria Youth Service Corp (NYSC), government, ministries and every other sphere of our lives. On campus randy lecturers old enough to father these young female students are found devouring them mercilessly and refusal to dance to their erotic tunes would spell failure for the students. Meanwhile, for the male students, a certain amount is paid to “settle” these lecturers for them to get good grades. These lecturers who are supposed to be the custodian of knowledge are the ones contributing to the mass production of half-baked graduates and the nosedive of our values and norms. Aside from the lecturers, old men or ‘agbayas’ whose beautiful wives have prepared delicious meals for them and waiting anxiously for them to return home are parading campuses to mortgage their hard earned money to girls for sex. They will not leave these ladies for the young guys. Some ladies have become a very cheap commodity that you can exchange for cash! Some of them even visit odd joints and spots to wine and dine while others are financiers of cultism groups.
In addition, the NYSC scheme is meant for those from 30 and below. However, in my stay at the camp in Taraba state, I saw men and women that are far above the age of 30 coming to struggle with swift and agile youths for N19, 000. They could not withstand the intense and rugged drilling of the military men in charge of the camp. What are they looking for? Why can’t they just leave the scheme for the youths? They want to enjoy the largesse from the federal government. This country is notorious for having admirable and superb laws but the predicament here is in the implementation of the laws where we are very always inept and chaotic as well as hypocritical. Well, the world is all about competition but I can’t fathom nor discern the competition between our parents and the young ones.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact it’s this same group or set that are in control of the Nigerian state. They are in the ministries where they keep changing their ages to prolong their stay, where only their cronies can secure employment, where you have to tip them so that your pay-slip can be forwarded to the “Oga at the top” for approval, where they refuse to provide essentials services to better the lives of Nigeria and when in crises they run helter-skelter to mosques, churches and even herbalist to resolved these problems. They would always be the first to agitate for increase pay for doing and also mobilize people to embark on strike action or protest when their position is threatened by anyone. The fact is that they are always triumphant. They always have their way. Obviously this is just a stratum of the Nigerian society. But then imagine what this gamut of untouchables would tell their children. How do they intend to instill discipline in their children if they are the ones destroying or massacring the very core values of the Nigerian society?
The Nigerian society is so filthy. We are morally bereft. Crime is the order of the day. Corruption is running faster than the cheetah while parents are in a shindig of commemorating their horrendous performance and defacing the Nigerian value system. Travelling down memory lane, I recall parents took greater responsibility for their children despite the fact that they had a very large family. Everyone was involved in parenting. You dare not misbehavior unless you want to be thrashed not even by your parent but by a stranger. Your parents would even show immense gratitude to the stranger. But today, you dare not touch the child of Mama John Doe unless you want to be humiliated or embarrassed. The social order has become more individualistic whereby nobody cares about the affairs of others. The ‘mind your business’ syndrome has really eaten deep into the fabric of our culture.
Unfortunately, the effect of this lackadaisical parenting and unwarranted competition is being felt in the type of leaders that rule this country, the bokoharam in the north, the kidnappers in the south and problems we are encountering today as a nation. They can all be traced to pathetic parenting that has led us into a situation whereby we are in at the precipice of anarchy.
The family led by the father and mother is the unit that determines the outlook of the society. So, if this very foundation is weak, then the social, the political, the economic, the religious and academic life would be polluted without any redemption.
Seriously, we all need to traverse back to the basis so that we can blend the good traditions of time past and the worthy aspects of modernity. For example, using social media and technology to promote traditional parenting values in our children would be a welcome idea. Maybe when the parents are not home, they can Skype or chat with their children and also, ensuring that children watch appropriate programmes on television. Television has been vehemently accused as the major culprit for encouraging immorality in the society. Therefore, parents should screen the kind of programmes that they watch. More essential is the fact that parents and their children must stop the competition for prominence in societal relationships and undertakings.
If the family is upright and parents are upbeat about taking care of their children and they are not just interested in the pursuit of money or competition with the youths, Nigeria would be better for it whether politically, socially, economically and otherwise. The benefits would be felt immediately without any farce.
OGUNFOWOKE, ADENIYI AYUBA