By Henry Uche
Worried by the sad realities in Nigeria today, a Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana -SAN has maintained that the worship of Money is taking over the Nigerian space as the country keeps decaying economically, morally, socially and otherwise.
Falana who reminisced the old good days of Nigeria asseverated that Nigeria need a revolutionary change to bring about a sane society Nigerians deserve. He made this known in Lagos at the 4th edition of the Gani Fawehinmi Impact and Integrity Awards (GFIIA).
While delivery a speech, the senior advocate fingered Civil servants in Nigeria as the most corrupt Persons, saying that what they steal is infinitesimal compared with what Politicians loot. His words: “Civil servants are the most corrupt. No body talks about them. They pad budget and know what to do with it, but attention is always on Politicians,”
He accused the western countries of aggravating the Plight of Nigerians by warehousing monies and other resources stolen by corrupt Nigerians. “The westerns are more corrupt, but one thing is that, the law prevails over there, but here in Nigeria, the people deal with the law. I remember the old good days in Nigeria, now we have lost our values, the same society that cared for us has turned against the citizens today and promote criminality,”
He added that any society which cannot take care of its people would not succeed in fighting corruption. “We commend HEDA for attempting to fight corruption and recognizing people who have distinguished themselves as honest citizens. Gani Fawehinmi and others desired a sane society for all of us, but what do we have today? We get away with anything,” he bemoaned.
Delivering a keynote speech, Justice Habeeb Adewale Abiru, stressed that Nigeria need to go back to the basics, where accountability, Transparency, integrity, honesty, probity, uprightness, legitimacy, fairness, responsiveness and Justice shall be entrenched.
He words: “There must be a concerted effort to restore our values of moral uprightness, integrity, probity, transparency, accountability, fairness, equity and justice in our ways of doing things. A child who grows up seeing his father slapping or chastising his mother every other day will most probably grow up to believe that slapping a female companion is a moral obligation or that it is part of the physical exercise he must undertake often.
“The failing of the public service and indeed the major problems plaguing the Nigerian society at every level, public and private, can be traced to a common denominator, namely: our poor value system. We had become a materialistic society that celebrates mediocrity in place of merit, quick wealth without work and glorifies ostentation. A society of everything goes where the end justifies the means. A society defaulting to the Hobbesian state of nature, where there are no enforceable criteria of right and wrong. A society where what amounts to right conduct as opposed to wrong conduct is being blurred at an alarming rate,”
The legal icon decried that people with questionable ethics and moral character have occupied the high offices, even within the traditional set up, saying such persons mostly were appointed as Baales or Obas awarded chieftaincy titles, honorary degrees and national honors. “People with questionable sources of wealth are celebrated and courted. It is common today to see situations where people gather to publicly demonstrate in support of persons accused of criminality, even of heinous crimes, on the basis of ethnicity, religion or of his being their benefactor. People now announce and boast of their criminality and flaunt resources acquired from criminal actions without any sanction.
“We have abandoned our social, moral, legal and cultural norms that were focused on encouraging good behavior and excellent character. When people are filled with greedy self interest, blatant lack of patriotism and an unabashed shamelessness, where the Government lies to us and we reciprocate with bigger lies. When we tell the government that it is doing well when we know it is not, we clap our hands loudest with ovation for a non-performing leader. We acclaim in pretended joyous ecstasy those who should not be celebrated, with this kind of society, it is totally hypocritical to expect to see a public service that thrives on transparency, accountability and integrity. No matter the number of reforms done to revamp the public service, things will not change. It is a simple law of nature; you cannot plant maize and reap millet, no matter the amount of fertilizer used and the most careful tendering of the maize plant,”
He charged Nigerians to start building back those better aspects of cherished culture that revered honor, that treasured integrity, prized probity, appreciated accountability, valued transparency, embraced honesty, practiced fairness, ensured equity, dispensed justice fairly and which cherished patriotism. He noted that the first epidemic we must address is the one affecting our culture and true Nigeria-ness. We must have a nation where national interest buries self interest.’ (underlining for emphasis).
“We must find prominent positions for the positives in our shared values, cultural, moral and social norms within our communities and society. This task must be undertaken quickly and with all seriousness so as to bring about a renewal in our socio-political system. It is this communality of positive values that keeps the ethics, morality and integrity of the members of such society strong, virile, able and capable. A society that is ethically and morally sound that can birth a public service that is high on transparency, accountability and integrity and this will translate to peace, justice and fairness in the society,” he added.