“If we must build a better Nigeria, if we must see the much desired change, every one must get involved and insist on appropriate behaviour”
If you have ever listened to Fela Durotoye discuss the problems of a dysfunctional society and the painful consequences of a failed state, you would understand why he practically thrust himself into harm’s way by squaring up to a bulky Nigerian at the airport, who acted as if desperate to board a fast moving molue. Apparently driven by the degradation the presidential aspirant and many other Nigerians have been subjected to at different airports in several countries, including smaller nations supported by Nigeria in the past, you would understand the rationale for the enforced decorum. In that video, the P.A.C.T flag bearer publicly walked a ‘big’ man through a crash program on etiquette with particular compulsory course on how to stay in line.
Unfortunately, we have been unable to name and shame that ugly Nigerian but his conduct is reflective of the ill-bred lot the society is degenerating into. The culprit, an obviously educated and well to do Nigerian, unashamedly jumped the queue in a manner typical of the ‘fast guys” who seem to outsmart others simply on account of their disregard for propriety. In that encounter, keeping with a fast growing disregard for good form, the passenger headed straight for the counter but met his match in the renowned motivational speaker, who resisted the brazen attempt to jump the queue. Whether it is leadership by example or a publicity stunt, the patriotic act of Mr. Durotoye marks a turning point in the increasing frustration of Nigerians who helplessly watch our core values disappear right in our faces. Irrespective of the viewpoint, the need to take deliberate steps to halt the worrisome trend has become imperative.
One of the perks of social skills is the competitive edge that gives an upper hand in tricky situations, especially where the rules of good conduct are politely but firmly enforced. This scenario played out in the video where Mr. Durotoye refused to shift ground until the customary behavior was achieved.
In the dispensation, where popular culture rides on the deliberate reversal of moral values, conventionality is gradually being consigned to the waste bin of history as ‘old school’. It is gratuitous to note that dissension in favour of courtesy, respect and consideration as key elements of interpersonal skills typically constitutes superior argument.
An African proverb states that, ‘It takes a village to train a child.” Depending on the circumstance, the appropriate tool, either with a carrot or a stick can be deployed.
Emboldened by Mr. Durotoye’s victory, a young man got an earful when he attempted to shove off an old lady from the line, in a market location in Lagos. The elegant looking grand dame, who by her conduct presupposed that she would get priority, headed straight to insert her card into the ATM, as soon as the previous user stepped off the line. In disbelief, the man struggled to displace the granny. Yes! In our own dear native land, where elders are accorded reverent status, an old woman for that matter was almost manhandled by somebody who could pass for her grandson. With the noise of the quarrel threatening to spiral out of control, a baby strapped on the mother’s back began to cry. The baby’s screaming jolted me back from temporal stupor. Seized by an overwhelming need to salvage the situation and restore normalcy, I engaged the uncouth fellow, who was totally unprepared for the boldness of a meddlesome interloper. Eyeball to eyeball, I stood between him and the frail looking old dame. ‘Sir, may I remind you that Mama should get priority on account of her age.’ After a brief lecture on queuing etiquette, I ordered the nursing mother to do her transaction explaining to everyone on the line that the aged, nursing mothers and people with disabilities should always get special consideration in any line, whether at the airport, cash point or bus terminal. Transfixed at my resoluteness, it was a pin drop silence. I ended my unsolicited Sermon on The Queue, counting myself lucky to leave the scene with my dental formation in tact. ‘If we must build a better Nigeria, if we must see the much desired change, every one must get involved and insist on appropriate behaviour’. Predictably, people expressed gratitude for the act.
All hands must be on deck in the fight against incivility. Parents, leaders whether religious or national and the public at large should join Fela Durotoye and other well meaning Nigerians to restore our cherished values. This is a call to action against every form of incivility. Grumbling, sneering, and silently agonizing over diminishing decency is not enough.
As critical stakeholders we all have a responsibility to enforce deportment in our corners. We are all involved because the society stands to benefit from a culture where social graces is commonplace.