Their bloodshot eyes dared any opposition as without compunction, they unleashed unimaginable pains on both suspecting and unsuspecting citizens, in the privacy of their homes or in the public, because these miscreants find themselves in a society where the worship of money make injustices flourish. Such is our society – Nigeria – today. In as much as we hate to admit it (for whatever reason) our country thrives on lawlessness and consequent anarchy that need not be over-emphasized, as many are witnesses of these experiences (of lawlessness and anarchy).
Today, you find yourself not walking alone as you intended, but accosted and surrounded by hoodlums (by the name – area boys), demanding (not begging) that you give them money or be molested. Or you enter a bus (since your ‘leg-dez-benz’ cannot cover your long distance within a short time) to get to a destination, only to find yourself in the company of armed robbers or ritual killers, and then wondering if you would see the light of another day because of being unfortunate to enter a ‘one chance’ bus. In the office, they come attacking. At home, hoping to rest and sleep after a hard day’s work, they come calling to rob you of this calm, your money, pride and life. You turn to the left, they are there, and to the right, there also they are, in different disguises as: ‘agberos’ in bus stops terrorizing drivers, conductors and passengers; or uniformed men ‘accidentally discharging’ bullets and harassing hapless citizens.
Lord, where do we go? You have the message of eternal life and in You we trust (Jn. 6:68-69). Come to our aid, Lord lest we perish; for our help is in thy name that made heaven and earth (Bible). But heaven helps those who help themselves. Where have we gone wrong?
In the Bible, we are made to understand that there are two gods (Lk. 16:13), and Christ told us we cannot worship both, but one, which is either God or money. The love of money is said to be the root of evil. While the love of God, is the willing obedience to His commandments, which in turn enhances good living among one another in all societies and with all loyalty to God. But what prevails in our society today, evil or good? Obviously, it is the former from the above picture. So, if evil prevails, how have we allowed it to? Have we loved and worshipped money more than our Father in heaven?
A people make up a society, but there are social agencies that nurture the people with norms and conventions that influence and enhance behavioral patterns and thus make good citizenry. Hence, the failure and deficiency of these agents will make a bad citizenry. Now let us look at money as the cause of this failure of our parents, teachers, peers, and security, religious and political leaders, but in the descending order.
Politics, as a social agent, is an avenue of learning by observation of and participation in political events. In recent times, news of assassinations of political officers and chieftains as well as reports of rigging and thugery in elections have been published. And a current situation is the confirmation of rigging in Anambra state, whereby the State Governor – Dr. Chris Ngige – has been found guilty by the State election tribunal of rigging into power. Furthermore, our political leaders who are expected to provide the basic and social needs, as well as an economically viable environment for the well-being and development of the citizenry, are helping themselves instead to the nation’s treasury at the detriment of these citizens – a situation that has earned Nigeria a reputation of being one of the poorest in the world, though in the midst of plenty (human and material resources). With this shameful conducts of our political leaders, and their exploitation of the youths to carry out rigging, violence and political assassinations, little wonder what the future of politics and other environmental incidents would be in the country. Today, poverty and joblessness, as a result of these leaders’ embezzlements, gross mismanagement and misconduct have frustrated and turned the citizens against one another in the acts of bribery and corruption, fraud, bloody violence, armed robbery, murder and other crimes.
The Nigerian police force, which is the security agency of government for its citizens, is today reputed for bribery and corruption, accidental and deliberate [or ‘accidental’ as it’s conveniently called] discharges of bullets, following surveys, reports and publications of their many acts that have robbed people of lives and property. Examples are the on-going ‘Apo killing’ trial and the very visible daily ‘egunje’ on the roads at day and night. The police are meant to protect lives and property, maintain peace and order, as well as prosecute criminals. But today, the only differences between them and criminals are that they are legally armed and with uniform. With this ‘piper’ (empowered by their guns), they compromise their legal duty to dictate the ‘tune’ of life (by exploiting and exterminating innocent citizens at their whims), just for the sake of money. And so today, people seem to be more afraid of the police than of criminals, in their skepticisms about reporting crimes for fear that money might change hands and expose them to the vengeance of the criminals; and in their hesitations to help a needy (for instance, an accident victim) because of the shabby procedure in which the police might treat such incident, thereby causing the ‘Samaritans’ to suffer unjustly.
Our religious leaders today are as divers in their doctrines and teachings as they are in their denominations and warehouses. It is their duty to impact the knowledge of their Deity (or deities, as the case may be) and the principles of their beliefs on their followers for the benefit of mankind and the glory of their God/gods. In today’s Christianity in Nigeria, poverty has led many to setting up ‘churches’ and preaching what the poor citizens want to hear: “Poverty is a disease and a sin. Christ has undergone all sufferings for our sake, therefore, it is not our portion to suffer anymore.” etc. This misconception of the Bible by the unlearned and uninspired individuals, who pose as pastors, to their followers is possibly responsible for the rampart bribery and corruption in our offices and institutions today – a situation whereby almost every worker wants to make money at all cost and feels morally justified to exploit visitors, clients, customers, students, etc, in order to acquire extra money in addition to their salary or take the place of their salary where it is not paid. They do this in order to meet up with their family or other obligations, and just so long as no head is visibly gored to create an appearance of armed robbery and killing. But how can making money at the expense of another be morally justified? The desire to be rich, as against love and mercy, has taken many hearts prison. Even then, in these selfish acts, the perpetrators conveniently call the name of the Holy God, because their pastors had imbibed in them the value of materialism and prosperity rather than spiritual purity, truth and love [that should enhance a better sociery]. Therefore, they ‘eat’ or take advantage of where they find the ‘opportunity’, caring less for the condition of whom they transferred the burden of hardship to. There have been arrests of ‘pastors’ in armed robbery and ritual killings. And so, this gives a cause for worry as to what their congregations would make of Christendom in the larger society: of a most religious country and yet the foremost in corruption; a mockery of a nation for her sins. (Pro. 14:34).
Peers are very strong influence in the character of a person. And so, no sooner has someone associated with bad peers or company, would he or she begin to imitate their character, wanting to belong. An adolescent, who has already been founded on strong virtuous principles at home should be able to resist bad peers, especially those whose greed for money lead them to crimes and promiscuity.
Teachers are partners to our parents in grooming a person to become responsible and useful in the society. Teaching then, is a honourable profession, but hardly so anymore in Nigeria. This is because the non-payment of teacher’ salaries by government parallel to the continuous multiplying growth of inflation has forced them to join the bandwagon in corrupt practices, by which they encourage and facilitate examination malpractices. Today, in our country, our teachers in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions are regarded by their students as disreputable and undignified because of the inhumane and shameless manners by which these instructors disregard their students’ plights by incessantly making demands of money and property from the students. Students look up to their instructors for counsel, guidance and examples to imitate when they eventually leave the walls of the school into the larger society awaiting them with great expectation for its (society’s) future.
Parents are the first socializing agent of any being, whose responsibility it is to imbibe their (family’s) opinions and beliefs of virtues, morals and religion that will form the character of the child. “Teach a child where to go and he will not depart from it”, is a common saying. Does that mean that the spates of injustices that abound in our country are the faults of our parents? Many parents have denied teaching their children wrong values and so do not know where they learnt their vices from. Perhaps, they did so from the other agents, these parents would guess.
The process of growth in persons involves various stages in time, which parents must monitor in order to guide and counsel. The failure to do this is creating room for the other agents to inject their values that might be contrary to the parents’. Many parents are very busy nowadays in pursuit of money and the flare for career. They should not place these above the well-being of their children who need from them what their (parents’) money cannot buy for them (love and attention).
It is the parents that make presidents, governors, priests, pastors, the police and armed forces, teachers and other professionals that manifest the values practiced today in the country. It is a circle whereby what goes round comes around. And so, parents, who by commission or omission imbibe the wrong values in their children, such as greed, might end up creating greedy political leaders whose performances result in untold multiplying effect of hardships, corruptions, crimes and promiscuity. And, like the Bible says, ‘a child’s honour is the parents’. Money can buy a whole lot of things, we know; and now evidently, the soul inclusive.
Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the possibility of other factors contributing to this unprecedented degree of madness. Such factors as: drugs, hatred, insanity, occultism, and the likes. Or how would one explain the coldness in the acts of murder, rape and child abuses. So much so that the church which had been a refuge for people in times of violence, crises, despair and depression, has now become a target of these bloody victimization by criminals.
There is nowhere to turn to, but to God; for our help is in Him who made heaven and earth. He alone can restructure our values, if only we would listen to His voice, hardening not our heart. He is the author of our lives and the inspiration of virtues and so alone is worthy of worship and loyalty. Every adult is a parent (biologically or not); let us imbibe Godly values in all children. Every profession is an act of God; let us use our positions positively because they are opportunities to serve and not exploit, to send the right messages and not corrupt the mind. Every child, adolescent, youth or person, is susceptible to the grace of God; He does not leave us orphans even when our social agents fail us; let us hearken to His call, for His grace is abundant and enough for us. Not money, no matter the hardship; for the quest for it has failed us by destroying our positive values and invited disgrace and disrepute upon our nation.
By Ifeanyi O.C
[Written 8/August/2005 Published in June & July 2006 ‘Dominicos’ by the Catholic Dominican Family Publication, P22 & 20 respectively. Originally titled – MONEY – A DEGENERATOR OF A SOCIETY in the magazine]