Get rich quick or die trying…Rejigging Nigeria’s faulty value system

By Okeke Chibueze

It is a new year full of many resolutions, plans and programmes aimed at ensuring that the year does not end as the previous. For many Nigerians, the year 2018 was a rough and tough one, and there is that common wish that there is no repeat of the experiences of 2018. As the new year rolls in, it is important we remind ourselves that a lot of things as regards the future we dream of and hope for are dependent on the works we put into seeing them manifest. It will be totally out of sanity to continue with the things we did in the previous year while expecting a different result in the new year. At the same time, it is important we begin to call ourselves to caution as regards the mindset with which we are going into the year. 2018 saw to the rise of many new things in our country, and in line with the topic of today’s article, I will focus on some specific ones.

As the new year rolls in, it is important we remind ourselves that a lot of things as regards the future we dream of and hope for are dependent on the works we put into seeing them manifest. It will be totally out of sanity to continue with the things we did in the previous year while expecting a different result in the new year.

First, into the year was the many times the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police busted some Badoo cult activities in some states in the Southwestern part of the country. Then the various social media hypes of wealth, affluence, possessions, class and all that causes depression to a man whose heart is swayed by them. As the year went by, there was the massive influx of young persons into various means of making quick money, the reasons behind this is not immediately known for sure but one can guess a number of them.

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It is still these reasons that have crippled the creative minds of our youths today as many just want to “hit it big” in no time with little or no labour at all. While some continued with internet fraud which has been on for some years across the globe, others decided to take it to another level by involving a level of African science to it. This gradually evolved through Yahoo (as internet fraud was commonly called) to G (which was adopted as Google gradually took over the mailing space) and recently to G+ (this in the actual sense means the various other services offered by Google besides emails. But of course, we have our own meaning for it. To us, it refers to the addition of African Science to the quest for wealth and affluence).

Without mincing or coating words, it refers to the same old ways of trying to get rich through rituals, charms and other metaphysical means. This is now common among youngsters, and it explains the reason behind the touché name carved out for something as bad as having to cause discomfort or harm to a fellow human in order to gain comfort, wealth and affluence. Today, we are gradually retrogressing into deeper kinds of error and evil such that the society is becoming unsafe on every side.

Today, we are gradually retrogressing into deeper kinds of error and evil such that the society is becoming unsafe on every side.

There are a number of manifestations of this urge to get rich as quickly as possible and it is clearly seen in various aspects of human endeavour. A number of examples are cited below. Please note that these examples may not be as exhaustive but they clearly point to the issue at hand.

  • The Evolution of Fake Clerics:

Over the year we have seen many cases of hypocrisy in various religions as people tend to lose sight of their creeds and allegiance to particular religions and switch to others in search for quicker results. Prayers, divinations, magic, incarnations, rituals, sacrifices, etc. seem to have found a common ground in our society. Today, you have clerics who publicly denounce the religions on the other side of the divide while secretly patronizing them. Some of them do this because they do not believe in the potency of what they expect others to believe in.

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In this regard, majority of my examples will be coming from the Christian perspective as it is where I belong. Other examples will be from news and stories I read/heard. A ready example of this level of hypocrisy is a Pastor who patronizes native doctors to acquire powers for the growth of his ministry. The ultimate aim is not the salvation of souls or heaven, it is not even the birth of a better society through the message of love but the continuous hypnosis of people into enriching the pastor. Gradually, we have succeeded in breeding people who go to the sanctuary, not for personal development or with the love of one another or even the society, but with the hope to get prophecies and miracles which will make them richer, bigger and better than the next-door neighbor. Competition becomes the order of the day around us as everyone seeks for the next happening place in the name of worship, religion or spirituality. Today, the level of spirituality is measured by what the man possesses and this also informs the treatment you get in the church.

Today, the level of spirituality is measured by what the man possesses and this also informs the treatment you get in the church.

I have also seen cases of native doctors changing their outward appearances just to be acceptable to the society. For instance, the case of a native doctor erecting a church building where, before the congregation, he uses the name of Jesus while behind the scene he consults his oracle for answers to the same prayers prayed in Jesus’ name. This drift is not only towards the Christian religion but also to others. There are a number of them who have metamorphosed into Alfas and Tebliques just to gain acceptance. The new face depends on what is more acceptable in the environment wherein he wishes to operate. If it is the Muslim faith that is more acceptable, he trains himself in the creeds of the Quran and the various Islamic practices so he can do well therein. If on the other hand it is the Christian faith that is more acceptable, he learns the various skills and gimmicks of pastors around, especially the various ways of speaking in tongues. With that, you see the next church sprouting very close to you and few months later, the auditorium is filled to capacity and you start hearing of the need to build a larger and more modern church auditorium.

  • Evolution of the G-Boys:

It is no longer news that our world today is unsafe as it concerns ritual killings for money, and this affects mostly the women folks among us. So many stories abound of the various acts of ritual killings and most painfully, by very young people who are at their prime. It becomes a great loss when we understand that these youngsters should be at the peak of their creativity but instead of making sincere efforts to create lasting solutions to societal problems around them, they would rather get into dubious means to make money, squander it and keep repeating the cycle of getting rich and going broke. Most of them never put such money into good use as they are always of the belief that more will definitely come. A number of common denominators amongst these persons are as follows:

    • This wealth and affluence never lasts beyond a generation
    • Sustainability most times requires higher sacrifices which tends to dehumanize the prospect the more
    • It is always a give-and-take situation where the prospect lets go of something to acquire comfort for himself
    • Strict codes are maintained which ultimately robs the prospect of his peace, sleep, and most times real comfort

There are other forms of quick wealth schemes our youths have devised today that keeps draining our society of their creativity. For instance, with the advent of crypto currency, some devised various means to rip owners of various currencies of their money, sell off same for their local currencies and waste same in a bid to show off. Some pose as miners of various currencies while others pose as sellers, creating websites that promise to pay you so much for so little without much labour. Unfortunately, the advent of Ponzi schemes escalated the matter as students and non-students alike creating websites through which others can be ripped off their money as a result of the urge to earn money and double one’s income. A lot of us fell prey to these fraudsters, and some still fall today.

It becomes a great loss when we understand that these youngsters should be at the peak of their creativity but instead of making sincere efforts to create lasting solutions to societal problems around them, they would rather get into dubious means to make money, squander it and keep repeating the cycle of getting rich and going broke.

  • Evolution of Political Thuggery:

It is a very funny thing that the people who are meant to be decision makers have relegated themselves to the background while letting people who pose as representatives of the people take decisions that affect them on the basis of their selfish interests. Since 1999 that the country returned to democratic rule, it has become clear that the electorates in the country are very comfortable with being massaged every four years with cash and material gifts just to push back to office someone who will rip them off another four years.

At first, politicians made use of street urchins, miscreants and school drop outs. However, gradually we have degenerated to the point where politicians now use graduates, double or triple degree holders and even professors to run their errands, do their dirty jobs and cover of their tracks “with a professional touch”. This is no thanks to the rapid growth in the rate of unemployment in our country. Joblessness has become the order of the day so much so that young persons now become employed by politicians to keep their people subjected to their whims and caprices. Most of these appointments come in the forms of Special Assistants, Senior Special Assistants, Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants and some lists of endless commissioners and ministers without portfolio, etc.

At first, politicians made use of street urchins, miscreants and school drop outs. However, gradually we have degenerated to the point where politicians now use graduates, double or triple degree holders and even professors to run their errands, do their dirty jobs and cover of their tracks “with a professional touch”.

I visited one of such Special Assistants to a Governor one day and while we chatted and planned a business deal, he said to me, “I am not actually supposed to do anything for the governor or the government house. All I need to is sit at home and expect my alert at the end of every month” then he added “Except once a while when my principal has a function he is not disposed to attend, I just stand in for him”. This is a man who lives in an environment that can be referred to as a GRA (Government Rejected Area) without basic amenities for the community but he would never discuss such with the governor to avoid getting the label of a saboteur or being dismissed. Another one, an Executive Assistant to a Governor once said to me when I asked him his job description in the government house, “Nothing really, na to just sit down collect my N50,000.00 every month, then when election reach, na we go dey mobilize for XYZ (the governor’s party) to make sure say him win second tenure” This is a graduate from the most undeveloped area of his undeveloped local government area. Poorest of the poor, yet comfortable with being a stooge to those impoverishing his people.

I have always wondered what a wonderful world it would be if our politicians would learn to bring development home with every opportunity they are given to serve the people. Imagine a new developmental project every month courtesy of federal allocations of millions and billions of dollars signed out to every representative of the people at various levels. From local government chairmen, state assembly representatives to those at the Federal House, governors and senators, each sincerely deciding to compete with the number of projects executed before they leave office. Our country would turn out fine in no time. But today, the competition is on who has the highest number of cars and the longest entourage, whose account is the fattest and who has the most control and influence on the youths. With this on ground, our youths are all seeking ways to get identified with the government of the day. We don’t mind being SSAs to already existing SSAs “ebe anacho etu agaesi raa piom” (all in our bid to make money anyhow).

With this kind of mindset, constructive criticism becomes elusive in the government, no one calls the leaders to question because they have all been bought over. Not only that, these youths become so lazy they no longer think of creating solutions to societal problems around them. All that matters to them is the drive to climb the political ladder, become relevant and have a horde of other youths singing their praises and calling them “My leader! My leader!!” wherever they go. Alas, we sit for decades, nay centuries, with the same problems while just praise those who at least try to do something. This is why we still praise governors who pay salaries promptly, construct roads and provide water to their people as working governors. Nothing more, no plans for the future, no economic plan, technological roadmap is too much a grammar, cultural reawakening is termed fetish and diabolical, tourist attractions are left to local residents to manage without any form of assistance from the government of the day, so many things that would have served as great sources of Internally Generated Revenue for the government are left unharnessed because he is sure of his monthly allowance from Abuja and his second term bid is assured by the powers that be, and of course, these youths are ever loyal, after all, they are making their money.

  • Evolution of the Quest for Fame and Popularity

There were those days when a man’s true worth, popularity amongst his kinsmen and the way he is treated were measured by the produce of his farm, the yield of his labour and positive influence he wields in his community or among his people. Then the old men laid much emphasis on the dignity in labour, and so our value system was ore of working hard to earn a living you can always be proud of. There were those days when you are not accepted into the society, no matter your wealth, without a clear understanding of the source.

In those days, your gifts could be rejected by the society, the oracle or any other religious priests just for the mere fact that the source of your wealth is questionable. However, today, a lot has changed as anything is now accepted both by the society generally and even religious bodies. Our value system has drifted from that of dignity in labour to excessive emphasis on accumulation of wealth and affluence. Gradually, the whole system deteriorated and today, we have young men and old ones, men and women alike getting into various things to become popular, famous, and earn respect. Today, our youngsters just want to get famous so as to be placed in the calibre of celebrities and stars. Social media has not been helpful as the unfettered show of wealth and affluence continues to pose a serious temptation to many youths. Of a truth, most of those who post wonderful pictures and videos online do not really have it so wonderful in real life. This is why someone cae up with the quote, “Do not be moved by what you see online. People only post what they want you to see”. A lot of youths in their efforts to belong to the happening clique have fallen prey to many dangerous vices, companies and deals that are not only detrimental to their health but also their intellectual capabilities, their creativity, and most importantly, their future.

This is what has led many to various gangs, secret cults and engagement in various harmful acts like drug peddling and addiction. Some who are not able to attain this level of closeness to fame and affluence attach themselves to those who are celebrated. Unfortunately, those celebrated are those who are able to dole out money and other forms of benefits in exchange for various forms of awards and recognitions. A lot of our youths now get involved in so many things, not because it appeals to their conscience, personal policies or decisions, but because it appeals to their pockets and their followership. A lot now follow whatever has a name without a check on whether or not it has content; whether or not it will benefit them or the society in the long run. There is very high lucre for immediate gratification as against laying a solid foundation for the future; no one gives a hoot about sustainable development. The NOW-NOW spirit has taken over everything we do and so everyone seeks a fast benefit to life and all it has to offer.

It is quite painful that our society has thus far retrogressed to so much emphasis on wealth, affluence and other attractive things of life without any good foundational emphasis on the dignity in labour, humanitarian spirit, love for one another, the great benefits of inter-personal relationships, etc. the strong tenets that bound our society together in the days of yore are falling apart at a very high rate and there seems to be no solution in sight. Everything now depends on how much a person has and this has totally changed the value system of our society. With this kind of trend, in no time, we are going to have a society that is known for wealth without labour, power without dignity, authority without a sense of responsibility. Most painfully, the social media will continue to hype these vices and make them look so attractive to our youths that every new generation continues to modify them like they are actually some very good examples to follow.

The earlier we begin to engage the Nigerian youths in a total overhaul of the system with much emphasis on the norms and values that held us together as a society, the better for us. The responsibility is a corporative one as every part of the system should have our hands on deck.

Beginning with the family as a unit of the society, to various places of convergence and communications around us. The religious centres, the market places, the various media of communication, the schools and other institutions around us, etc. a better society with a refined value system is a job for all. It is a duty we must come together to perform for the sake of our future generation. With this in place, our politicians will have less persons to do their biddings for stipends, our youths will understand and keep strong on the values we have imbibed into them, the future generations will learn from the current one that there is dignity in labour and quick wealth does not last a lifetime.

The earlier we begin to engage the Nigerian youths in a total overhaul of the system with much emphasis on the norms and values that held us together as a society, the better for us. The responsibility is a corporative one as every part of the system should have our hands on deck.

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