Moral, ethical imperatives of change agenda (1)

CHANGETHE 2015 General Election in Nigeria was decided on the principal issue of ‘Change Agenda.’ Consequently, “Change” came in many dimensions as a result of the election. The President was changed as General Muhammadu Buhari defeated the then President Goodluck Jonathan. And the National Assembly, both the Senate and House of Representatives equally saw a drastic change as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost its majority positions in both the Senate and House of representatives to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

To the average Nigerian, there was no doubt that the “Change” campaign has yielded successful results. It seems therefore that the country is poised for a “change” to a “new” Nigeria. However, for this expected change, to succeed, will involve many factors starting with “Change” of our national attitudes to many things including, politics, economic, and governance to mention a few.

The change agenda therefore, must transit to a change “philosophy” and a “doctrine” of the “Change” Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. What both the philosophical and doctrinal change phenomenon will achieve range from the national character to the overall national politics and economic objectives as well as national ethics, morals, and values.

The serious challenges facing our country are well known and frequently reported and commented upon in our media and public statements. The problem is that our political leaders and governments at all levels are living in denial of the seriousness of the crisis in which our country is currently involved. We have the raging violence and insecurity across the country, particularly in the North East. We have the challenges of rapid economic development and the challenges of reforming or restructuring the political system.

As Chief Emeka Anyaoku once said, the “root cause of most of our current problems is the inappropriate governance structure which the country has been operating since the military intervention in government in January 1966. Accordingly, we must review “the governance architecture” of the Nigerian federation. And he outright recommended decentralisation of power as in 1960 by Nigeria’s Founding Fathers, which made it imperative for Ahmadu Bello to remain in Kaduna and sent Tafawa Balewa to Lagos as Prime Minister.

It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that with the exception of only a few moments of peace, the country’s political history since 1966 under military or civilian regimes has been a continuous failure to build a country with political stability, security or sustainable economy. Since then too, the country’s constant experience has been that of fear, anger and various levels of political violence. And at the root of all these crises is the tendency and propensity to grab power by one political elite group or another with impunity and non-challance, lack of tolerance, and lack of sense of kindredship. We have all along had politics of “do or die” and “winner take-all.”

For nations to have a durable democracy and political stability there must be certain imperatives. They must either have a unifying political ideology and economic structures that are generally acceptable to all its component groups or in our own case all the federating units. The reality that Nigerian leaders kept denying over the past 50 years is that in spite of all their best efforts, Nigerian unity still remains an aspiration and not yet an achievement.

However, the challenges we face in nation-building and national development are not unique to us. Other countries faced them, overcame and succeeded to attain their goal as great nations. In those countries, the leaders were able to resolve their historical national or sub-national or ethno-religious rivalries and turned their diversities and dynamic disintegrative tendencies into instruments of national unity and progress. Some historical courageous leaders who performed these feats in recent history include, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk of Turkey, Charles De Gaulle of France, Surkano of Indonesia, Lee Qua Yew of Singapore and Mahthi Mohammed of Malaysia to mention a few. Nigeria too can produce such leaders. And that will happen if our leadership selection process will be based on capability, knowledge, and genuine patriotism, not on the basis of Region, Religion, or ethnicity.

Nigerian leaders face a similar historic challenge, as those mentioned above, and today history beckons President Buhari; Nigeria, certainly can change, and must change to survive. There are historical precedents. However, for Nigeria to “Change” and Nigerians to accept the “Change” agenda, certain Moral and Ethical Imperatives are essential and inevitable.

Nigerians have to go through both spiritual revivalism and the nation itself must go through moral re-armament. The crisis in Nigeria is predominantly a moral one. Some scholars believe “moral recovery creates not crisis but confidence and unity in every phase of life.” And that “moral recovery is essentially the forerunner of economic recovery.” It is clear now in Nigeria that suspicion, rivalries, apathy, mutual hostility and greed lie behind the bottlenecks that have impeded all efforts towards our national unity and progress. Moral values based on the concept of right and wrong should supplant rivalries, envy and other negative competitions with emphasis on the “permanent struggle between good and evil”. Hence, a well-designed doctrine of ethnics and morals for a new Nigeria has become inevitable.

The doctrine, as in the philosophy of Moral Re-armament will do the following:
• Change the basic selfishness and greed in human nature (that sabotage even the best economic plans) and so ensures the creation of an entirely new type of genuine democracy in Nigeria.
• Create the unity of labour by answering the root cause of national division-drive for power, personal ambition, jealously and materialism or compulsive accumulation of wealth.
• Promote the incentive to think and plan for the whole country, people of every class, every religion, race, every nationality and not just for themselves or their own party, and
• Develop the moral qualities and character of youth that will enable them to take responsibility in the building of a new Nigeria.
Ethics and moral philosophy involves systematizing, defining and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.
Ethics and moral philosophy investigate the questions “what is the best way for people to live”, and what actions are right or wrong in particular circumstances.” Consequently, ethics or moral, philosophy dwells “on concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime.”
• To be continued tomorrow.
• Professor Obiozor is former Nigeria Ambassador to the United States.

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