Nigeria’s narratives of shame are numerous. They have been told in many versions, by many narrators, on various platforms, and on different occasions. This shame kaleidoscope has also turned out to bring the country and her citizens much pain and losses.
There was an era in this country when it was a thing of shame to be caught stealing public funds, going nude, or being engaged in any vice. That was the era of the shame culture. But that era is long gone. The shame culture was long deposed by men, whose minds are warped by base desires, leaving the country to swim in the murky waters of shame.
You do not need to search far to find the numerous fragments of a country encapsulated in shame. Right on our roads, you find law enforcement officers who openly take bribe, and in spite of criticisms, nothing serious has been done by their superiors. In fact, stories abound that their superiors expect these road ‘boys’ to make returns to them. One is inclined to believe these stories since the superiors appear to be engaged in a conspiracy of silence.
Teachers, who were a respectable class of persons at some point in our history, have lost most of such respect, resulting from unethical and shameless conduct. These conducts of shame include practices such as sex for marks, money for marks, falsification of documents, etc. These have left perforations in the integrity of the teaching profession, thus preventing the professionals from commanding the respect that once was.
Apart from teachers, some of our religious leaders seem to have missed the mark. They have abandoned their vocations in pursuit of vain things. This diversion has weakened the strength that their voice and office should carry. As our religious leaders move away from the core of their calling, they move closer to the vectors of shame – greed, lustfulness, lack of self control, etc. This leaves the sheep, which they were to lead, to roam into the misfortune of corruption and materialism.
Our religious institutions have, in many instances, extolled men whose characters are obviously flawed. They have exalted men who stole from public treasury. They have defended causes which are nothing but shameful. Their heads have been found to be very good partners with government – even corrupt governments.
Students are not left out in this game of shamelessness. Examination malpractices, drug use, gangster lifestyle, nudity and other social vices are now becoming the norms in our academic institutions. Most students take delight in participating in these shameful acts, without showing any form of regret or remorse. They seem to enjoy the dark thrill.
The integration and seeming acceptance of these shameful acts in our academic system has brought about a weakening academic culture which seems to promote certificate racketeering, campus prostitution, etc. Most students, especially girls, are fast becoming nudists. They leave bare what was once concealed and held sacred. What was once taboo, is now becoming standard acceptable practice. All this is telling on the quality of graduates that our institutions produce. The nudity virus has also found its way outside the walls of the campuses into open market. More and more people are going near-unclad. Maybe as global warning becomes increasingly manifest, compromised religious leaders will call for a vote for nudism as a way of life; after all, some of these crazy dress codes have found their way into some churches.
While all these shows of shame abound, the one that worries me most is the thievery of our political class. Like savages, they have plundered the commonwealth of the people without any thought of the harm they are causing. Expectedly, the stolen-money virus keeps multiplying and transforming itself until most politicians now consider the looting of public funds an art form that must be learnt and perfected.
The disappointing aspect is that the masses that these savages steal from seem to worship these thieves. They seem to relish the thrill of being oppressed and stolen from. They celebrate these criminal politicians, extolling them and their ‘sterling’ qualities. They confer on them chieftaincy titles and respectable’ positions and offices in religious organizations. By these acts, the gullible and permissive society encourages and tends the monster which, if not checked, will grow to destroy the country.
In this situation, what is needed is leadership which can produce the needed change. In the words of Arc Ubokutom Nyah, President Akwa Ibom Finance Prudential Cooperative Association (AKFIPCA), “Obviously leadership in the context we know today has failed. We however must give sympathy to President Buhari. He may have been held captive by the forces he needed to ascend- corruption and religion; but he has as he did three decades ago recognized sincerely that indiscipline is a virus that we must confront or it consumes our society. Indiscipline, not corruption, is at the base of national malaise. Corruption comes as one of the many end products of indiscipline.”
That is it! The preponderance and institutionalization of acts of shame in the country stem from indiscipline, not corruption. That is where President Buhari should focus his energy and resources if he is to win the war against corruption. And the best way to start it is to bring back the shame culture, which is to make it unattractive for indiscipline and corruption to thrive.
By Rev. KufreAbasi Essien