It was a privilege to have been given spaces and large audiences to speak on various aspects of values, notably at three Convocation Lectures at the University of Ilorin, University of Mkar, and Chrisland University, back-to-back in October. I close this series of lectures with this brief reflection on why values matter.
Nigeria, widely regarded as the preeminent nation on the African continent, is at a crossroads in its development, with the ideals it defends and cultivates profoundly shaping its future. The complicated fabric of Nigerian culture is unified by a set of deeply ingrained beliefs that have long acted as the connective tissue among its inhabitants, pushing the nation’s progress. Nonetheless, there is a perceptible erosion of these ideals in contemporary society, a condition that not only impedes progress but also threatens the core essence of a nation. Values are the primary cornerstone of all civilizations and play an important part in the process of building a nation. These unsaid codes have a great influence on the behaviour of both individuals and institutions, shaping a nation’s common ideals and principles. In the Nigerian setting, there is a strong emphasis on essential values such as communal solidarity, deference to older people, maintaining honesty, and cultivating a strong work ethic. The values mentioned earlier have their roots in the numerous and culturally significant ethnic customs and religious practices that make up Nigeria’s rich social fabric.
However, the once-resilient bulwark of principles is showing signs of cracking. Modernity, with its unrelenting advancement, ushers in a new set of paradigms and perspectives that represent a severe challenge to traditional value systems. The modern emphasis on accumulating financial money and achieving power has gradually overtaken the priority placed on societal well-being and the maintenance of ethical standards. The visible evidence of this transition may be found in politics and business, where corruption regularly replaces the concepts of meritocracy and equity. State institutions, which serve as stewards of societal norms and legal frameworks, are not immune to erosion of these values. The presence of corrupt practices inside these organizations has not only hampered Nigeria’s growth but has also damaged the Nigerian populace’s trust.
Religion’s influence as a guiding factor for moral behaviour is declining as a result of Nigeria’s sociocultural shift. Religious institutions, formerly seen as bastions of ethical uprightness, are now periodically entangled in the same web of materialism and moral compromise that they aim to oppose. The disparity between proclaimed ideas and actual implementation has instilled doubt and scepticism among younger generations, accelerating the disintegration of the social foundation based on shared values. It is critical to recognize that Nigerian values have not been destroyed. Despite popular belief. The eternal presence of these individuals lives on in the collective consciousness and behavioural patterns of many Nigerians who work tirelessly to develop a better societal milieu. Nonetheless, the current course of events suggests that the country is dangerously near to abandoning the core ideas that can spark a tremendous cultural and intellectual resurgence.
Given Nigeria’s continued engagement with the complex dynamics of globalization and the manifold issues of the modern period, it is critical to emphasize the need to return to these core values. Returning to basic principles should not be interpreted as a retrograde activity but rather as a process of restoring the underlying essence of the nation’s identity and a conscious step toward supporting sustainable development. The reintroduction of fundamental concepts such as accountability, openness, and communal responsibility in both the public and commercial sectors has the potential to create the re-establishment of trust, which is essential for building social and economic collaboration.
The role of education in this renaissance is critical and should not be disregarded. Nigerian educational institutions must not only disseminate knowledge but also serve as custodians of cultural values, painstakingly instilling them in younger generations. The scope of education should extend beyond typical classroom settings into public areas where civic duties are prioritized and exemplary figures are celebrated. The media also plays an important role in this endeavour, amplifying narratives that promote positive values and shedding attention on the repercussions of abandoning them.
The revival of values in Nigeria has the potential to be a critical pillar in the formulation and execution of development initiatives. The endeavour mentioned above can be viewed as a long-term strategic investment that will result in benefits such as increased societal cohesion and a more resilient economic framework. Nigeria’s success and cohesion are dependent not just on its abundant natural resources and demographic advantages but also on the strength of its core beliefs and ideals. The collaborative effort to engage in the restoration of values necessitates a thorough understanding of the intricate relationships between these values and the institutions accountable for their preservation. The need to sustain societal norms and the rule of law in Nigeria mandates that governmental institutions take the lead in embodying the ideals they seek to instil in the people. The growing chasm between these institutions’ professed values and their actions has resulted in a significant schism between the government and its constituents, precipitating a gradual erosion of the fundamental trust required for fostering national unity and coherence.
There is an irrefutable link between values and progress. A nation that upholds ideals such as integrity, accountability, and fairness creates an environment that encourages investment, creativity, and the development of a collective sense of purpose. When evaluating the negative effects of corruption on the trajectory of economic growth, the contradictory nature of this issue becomes clear. According to African Development Bank statistics, corruption imposes a large economic cost on African nations, equal to almost 25% of their combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on an annual basis. This emphasizes the importance of Nigeria addressing the reinvigoration of its core beliefs as a strategy to mitigate setbacks and turn toward long-term growth. However, the rebirth of these ideals demands a joint effort that goes beyond simply verbal expression. The concept must be grounded in specific activities. It is critical to build strong mechanisms for countering corruption that prioritize transparency and accountability. The usefulness of legislation is intrinsically restricted in the absence of tenacious enforcement mechanisms that ensure conformity to the specified laws by both individuals and institutions. This notion applies not only to persons holding public office but also to leaders in the private sector who are required to respect ethical standards in their corporate endeavours.
Nigeria’s education systems are critical to the process of national reawakening. The curriculum should be purposefully designed to impart civic virtues at an early age, laying the framework for a future cohort with a heightened understanding of values. The use of Nigerian historical and civic education has significant potential for imparting knowledge to students about critical junctures in the nation’s history where values prevailed while also emphasizing the grave consequences that resulted when these values were neglected or abandoned.
Recognizing culture and religion as prominent forces within Nigerian society is equally important since they serve as channels for the transmission of values. Traditional leaders and religious people usually demand high regard and exert considerable power over large portions of society. Individuals’ influence in disseminating and embodying the ideals they support has the potential to have tremendous and transforming effects on their followers. As a result, the major goal is to ensure that these cultural and religious institutions do not become complicit in the very process of value degradation that they fiercely oppose but rather aspire to be moral paragons. The resurgence of Nigerian cultural values demands a thorough assessment in light of current socioeconomic trends. Modernization should not be viewed as a threat to traditional values but rather as a means of advancing and developing them. Nigerian youth, who play an important role in actively embracing multiple global cultures, require suitable instruction in order to effectively reconcile worldwide ideals with their home traditions. This synthesis has the potential to provide a fresh set of ideas with worldwide relevance while keeping a particular Nigerian flavour.
The media is critical in navigating the intricacies of the modern landscape. The presence of an informed and morally oriented media is critical in the process of encouraging national development. The media has the power to build the framework for a discourse centred on principles inside the public sphere by promoting transparency, providing constructive criticism of state activities, and advocating for the common good. Given Nigeria’s ongoing efforts to preserve its cultural history, while also fostering growth, the media must play a critical role in accountability. Individuals must actively shape the narrative, preventing it from focusing primarily on the negative parts and instead embracing and extolling stories of triumph anchored in ideals. In today’s world of widespread digitalization, the strong effect wielded by social media platforms cannot be overlooked. The platform in question offers an unparalleled platform for the spread of principles, permitting individuals to demand transparency from their leaders and voice their hopes for a Nigeria guided by strong moral standards.
The call for a resurrection of values in Nigeria goes beyond mere institutional reforms and into the very fabric of society dynamics. As the principal agents of socialization, family units play an important role as instrumental conduits for the transfer of values. The slow degeneration of societal norms typically begins when the familial framework, when faced with economic and social strains, loses its ability to convey moral ideals. In a society defined by the enduring power of familial relationships, the urge to build these institutions becomes critical in nurturing the moral education of the next generation. The family unit is the first breeding ground for the development of values such as integrity, respect, and involvement in community service.
Furthermore, economic constraints have a significant impact on value systems. Individuals may be compelled to sacrifice their firmly held principles in order to survive as a result of the socioeconomic conditions of poverty and unemployment. Despite its abundant oil resources, Nigeria faces tremendous obstacles in alleviating widespread poverty. According to World Bank estimates, roughly 40% of Nigeria’s population lived below the poverty line in 2019. Prioritizing economic survival frequently pushes ethical considerations to the back burner. As a result, the urge to address economic inequality extends beyond its economic implications to include a moral dimension as well. The implementation of economic policies aimed at alleviating poverty and promoting inclusive growth is critical in creating an environment conducive to the flourishing of societal ideals. In the current climate, it is critical to recognize the enormous role that the private sector plays. Enterprises that prioritize corporate social responsibility (CSR) actively contribute to the complex tapestry of societal values. Companies that practice ethical operations not only set a standard for behaviour but also demonstrate that success does not need abandoning one’s essential principles. Implementing ethical corporate practices in tandem with strategic investments in community development has the potential to foster a culture of accountability and selflessness. The interdependence of values, education, and economic situations emphasizes the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to the process of nation-building. Development plans must include a comprehensive strategy in which economic and social goals are harmoniously integrated. The recommended integrated strategy should try to empower individuals not only economically but also socially, promoting their ability to actively contribute to society while maintaining a solid moral foundation.
Furthermore, the foreign community and diaspora must be recognized for their enormous contributions in this area. The Nigerian diaspora, which spans the globe, has the inherent capacity to serve as messengers of Nigerian cultural and socioeconomic ideas. The diaspora can play a crucial role in redesigning the global narrative pertaining to Nigeria by demonstrating these ideas within their host communities and actively participating in the conversation around development. As Nigeria continues on the journey of recovering its value system, it is also reevaluating the manifestation of these principles within the context of contemporary society. Transparency, which was formerly limited to financial transactions, has now expanded its scope to include the digital arena, where information is easily available and leaders’ activities are scrutinized. The relevance of innovation takes on a new meaning in the context of a technologically advanced Nigeria, where young entrepreneurs are harnessing technology to address pressing societal issues. Similarly, in the age of social media, where platforms for societal reform may be quickly engaged across vast geographical spans, the traditional concept of communal aid is amplified.
To achieve the harmonization of ancient values with current realities, Nigeria must foster an environment characterized by inclusion, in which a diverse range of opinions are accepted and valued. The use of a country’s ethnic and religious diversity, rather than catalyzing fragmentation, should be viewed as a formidable asset. Different groups’ values can improve and deepen the collective national identity, resulting in a more complete and resilient societal fabric. The complex and multifaceted process of infusing values into the framework of a nation’s development strategy is a daunting task. Achieving a goal requires the development of patience, unshakable perseverance, and, most importantly, a genuine openness to adaptability. Nigerian society’s exceptional endurance, as seen by its ability to maintain a strong sense of optimism and civic solidarity in the face of adversity, attests to the enduring nature of its essential ideals. Adopting a value-centric technique while establishing policies and tackling social issues not only promotes the construction of a fair and successful Nigeria but also drives its populace to actively participate in the country’s revival. This permanent legacy can benefit not just the current generation but also future generations yet to come.
Nigeria’s route to progress needs a conscious integration with the intricate fabric of its vast cultural past, drawing on the underlying principles of a revitalized value system. The rich tapestry of cultural legacy, which includes a wide range of languages, traditions, and practices, provides a healthy breeding ground for the development of a collective national ethos. When the Nigerian cultural milieu is harmoniously imbued with appropriate values, it has the potential to propel the nation towards a more cohesive national identity that is deeply rooted in its historical roots while remaining adaptable to the necessities of a globally interconnected global society.
Education appears as a critical pillar in this endeavour once more. Knowledge acquisition extends beyond the area of formal education to include a broader breadth of cultural education as well. It is critical to make concerted efforts to preserve indigenous languages and cultural practices through the medium of education. According to UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, a number of languages spoken in Nigeria are vulnerable or endangered. The situation, as mentioned above, not only denotes a loss in the number of languages, but it also raises the possibility of gradual deterioration of the cultural principles intricately intertwined within these linguistic systems. The resuscitation of these languages and cultural practices can help to strengthen essential values like as respect for older people, communal coexistence, and the virtue of hospitality, all of which are extremely important in many Nigerian cultural contexts. Simultaneously, in order to sustain and promote its core principles and aspirations, Nigeria must properly leverage the potential of technology and innovation. The digital divide is a dualistic phenomenon, including both a daunting challenge and a hopeful opportunity.
On the one hand, limited access to technology can hinder educational development and economic growth. Conversely, increasing digital literacy can open up new avenues for cultural expression and the strengthening of societal ideals. Nigeria’s burgeoning technology sectors, particularly Nollywood and the music industry, are prime examples of how cultural products can be imbued with intrinsic national values and effectively disseminated on a large scale, both within the country and across international borders.
The current cultural renaissance needs a proactive engagement with the underlying dangers that threaten the nation’s fundamental beliefs and ideals. It is critical to confront and address important issues like as tribalism, gender inequity, and the marginalization of minority groups. Nigeria seeks to embody an all-encompassing set of principles, building unity and providing equitable treatment for all individuals. It is critical to redefine the myths around nationalism and unity in order to praise diversity as a source of togetherness rather than separation. Prioritizing inclusion is critical because it fosters a collective sense of belonging and drives each member of society to actively engage in the process of building a united nation. The importance of Nigerian youth involvement in this topic cannot be overstated. They represent the agents of transformation, those with the greatest ability to quickly adapt to new paradigms and accelerate the growth of innovation. Nigeria can effectively safeguard the perpetuation of its core principles and facilitate the progressive evolution of its cultural landscape through active involvement with the younger generation and the provision of educational opportunities, mentorship programs, and support for entrepreneurial endeavours.
Furthermore, it is critical that this cultural reawakening not take place in isolation or separation. Nigeria’s modern existence is embedded in a global framework defined by interdependence. As a result, Nigeria must guarantee that its primary principles are consistent with widely recognized notions such as human rights, gender equality, and ecological sustainability. The proposed alignment has the potential to not only strengthen Nigeria’s standing in the global community but also to foster an egalitarian and environmentally responsible development path. Nigeria will discover that its inherent values are not inert residues of antiquity but rather dynamic catalysts capable of accelerating growth as it strives to nurture them amid the interplay of cultural and contemporary realms. A society that is both sturdy and dynamic will result from the convergence of core ideas, societal norms, and creative thinking. When firmly anchored in ethical principles, success stories have the potential to echo widely, inspiring individuals and forging partnerships that can push the accomplishment of a nation’s developmental goals.
Upon closer inspection, it is clear that the urgency of restoring and integrating values into the intricate tapestry of Nigerian society transcends mere political rhetoric and necessitates the implementation of concrete methods. Nation-building in Nigeria, as in any other country, can be compared to a marathon rather than a sprint. The continuing nature of this process necessitates the active participation of a wide range of stakeholders in society, including governmental agencies, civil society organizations, the commercial sector, and individual people. The government is required to display leadership through exemplary behaviour in its capacity as a protector of the collective confidence conferred upon it by the public. In order to develop a governance framework in Nigeria, key concepts such as transparency, accountability, and responsiveness must be embodied. Policies that actively promote ethical behaviour and apply punishments for instances of corruption can drastically influence the dominant discourse. One illustration example is the strengthening of institutions such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), where the consolidation of their autonomy would aid in boosting anti-corruption efforts. Furthermore, the public sector must serve as a model, reflecting the fundamental ideas it seeks to promote. This requires ensuring that public officials go above their role as policy implementers and become passionate supporters of the nation’s basic principles and values.
The need to reorganize the educational realm, which includes both basic and secondary levels as well as higher education institutions, demands a thorough realignment that goes beyond simply knowledge distribution. It is critical to instil a strong emphasis on values in educational systems. It is vital to create an educational curriculum that prioritizes critical thinking skills, civic duty, and ethical leadership. Participating in extracurricular activities and community service efforts might help to cement these principles in students’ cognitive and experiential spheres.
Religious and traditional institutions wield significant power in the Nigerian environment, making them effective allies in the restoration and reinforcement of community norms and principles. These institutions can consolidate and perpetuate ideas about ethical behaviour, prudent resource management, and active participation in community affairs. A solid framework for the propagation of ethical principles is formed through the alignment of religious teachings and traditional practices with the essential tenets of good government and societal accountability. Furthermore, it is critical to recognize that the Nigerian diaspora has the potential to play a pivotal role in the process of nation-building by transmitting valuable expertise, erudition, and principles that are consistent with internationally recognized standards of excellence. Remittances from the diaspora not only contribute to economic progress but also facilitate the spread of ideas and ideals. The Nigerian media, as a powerful tool for affecting public opinion, should adopt a commitment to responsible journalism that prioritizes coverage of value-driven activities and good progress. The media can generate a powerful sense of collective patriotism and duty towards one’s nation by placing a purposeful emphasis on these themes.
In the private sector, it is critical to place a greater emphasis on the creation and implementation of ethical business practices and strong corporate governance. Corporations must recognize that their success is dependent on a mutually beneficial relationship with the larger societal framework. Enterprises can actively contribute to the improvement of society and the spread of ethical ideas through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts.
It is the responsibility of every Nigerian to assume their particular obligations. The process of nation-building begins with the person, as it requires a strong commitment to embody the identical beliefs and goals that one wishes to see pervade society. The building of a nation is dependent on the consistent practice of integrity, the display of regard for fellow citizens, and the purposeful rejection of unethical behaviour. The path towards a values-based Nigeria is fraught with peril, but it is one worth pursuing with zeal. The goal of progress extends beyond simple economic statistics to include the creation of a society that future generations would eagerly accept as their legitimate heritage. The goal at hand is to develop a Nigerian society in which values serve as the essential underpinning for every facet of its structure.
In a broader sense, values serve as the driving forces behind societal growth, the cohesive aspect that unites a nation, and the guiding light that directs it towards a more promising destiny. In the context of Nigeria, the effort to return to a society centred on core values is a realistic approach focused on promoting a sustainable and prosperous future rather than a sentimental nostalgia for bygone eras. As Nigeria finds itself at a crossroads between advancement and inertia, the country must pivot decisively toward a path in which principles are deeply ingrained within the collective consciousness and behaviours of its citizens rather than merely enshrined within official directives. The re-emergence of these fundamental ideals is critical to the realization of a developed Nigeria marked by rich possibilities and equitable justice for all. This endeavour might be described as a pragmatic endeavour rather than an idealistic goal, as it seeks to build a nation capable of withstanding the unexpected oscillations of global dynamics while navigating a path toward sustainable development.
The realization of this envisioned future requires a profound transformation of the social contract, in which leaders and citizens alike must uphold and embody the fundamental principles that characterize the Nigerian ethos, namely integrity, resilience, communalism, reverence for diversity, and ingenuity. The rebuilt social compact demands an educational foundation that encourages not only academic accomplishment but also a profound understanding of the fundamental values of virtuous citizenship. This educational method seeks to build a strong understanding of the importance of collective welfare and to encourage individuals to actively and consciously contribute to society’s betterment.
The junction of values and the process of nation-building is inextricably tied to the critical role of collective memory and historical narratives. A nation that forgets its history narrative, especially the selfless sacrifices made by its founding figures, the difficult challenges faced, and the significant triumphs gained risks losing its core. Nigeria’s educational framework must incorporate comprehensive historical instruction that goes beyond simply reciting facts and instead delves into a critical examination of the foundations of previous choices, the principles that influenced those choices, and the subsequent consequences that resulted. This comprehension has the potential to build a more knowledgeable and discerning citizenry in terms of values.
It is equally important for governmental institutions to match their operations and services with national values. It is critical that all public services, including the judiciary, police force, educational system, and health care, adhere to the core ideals of equity, respect, and unshakable dedication to serving the public. The execution of institutional reforms should go beyond outward appearances and prioritize significant transformations that are in line with the restoration of core values. In Nigeria, the convergence of technology and values presents a distinct and intriguing opportunity. The constructive use of the country’s younger generation’s imaginative faculties in the domains of artistic expression, technological advancements, and entrepreneurial endeavours has the potential to instigate a revival of Nigerian cultural heritage and ethical principles. It can foster an environment in which innovation transcends purely commercial goals and instead serves as a catalyst for the progress of societal well-being.
In the domain of global affairs, Nigeria must persistently strive to promote its essential ideas and goals through cultural artefacts, diplomatic efforts, and diasporic groups. Nigeria can impact global narratives and make substantial contributions to international policy that correspond with its values and interests by embodying its key beliefs. It can be said unequivocally that the direction of Nigeria’s prospects would be intricately crafted via the interweaving of enduring ideas and ideals. Every person in Nigeria bears responsibility for the situation at hand. As the country rapidly approaches the centennial of its independence, an excellent moment has emerged to reevaluate and rethink the enduring legacy that will shape the next generation. This moment represents an excellent opportunity to embrace the inherent principles that have historically defined Nigeria and can mould its societal fabric once more. This proclamation is an urgent request for the active participation of all societal domains in the endeavour to build a nation in which principles and ethics constitute the foundations of every endeavour, every governmental measure, and every individual behaviour. The unwavering commitment to and advocacy for fundamental principles is critical to realizing Nigeria we all envision a society in which each individual has the potential to flourish, where diversity is valued, and where the nation serves as a symbol of progress, coherence, and solidarity not only within Africa but also on a global scale.