A role model, according to Microsoft Encarta Dictionary (2009 Edition), is “somebody to be copied: a worthy person who is a good example for other people.”
Against this simple yet clear description of who a good role model is, with regard to apparent cases of wilful theft, mindless looting of treasuries, mismanagement of resources, absence of visionary leadership, impunity, premeditated falsehood, pervasive corruption in high and low places across the land of recent, it is no wonder then that many, out of sheer resignation to fate, continue to ask this probing question: who and where are the role models in the Nigerian system?
Truly, any concerned Nigerian, old or comparatively young, who was perhaps familiar with how the age-long, good societal value system of honesty, integrity, decency, hard work, communal living and good neighbourliness held sway in the not-too-distant past among the various tribes and communities across the country, ordinarily would screech at what has become of leadership at differing levels in different sectors of the national economy in recent times.
This contemporary issue oftentimes gets more interesting but cynical than ever, for instance, when one exchanges views with folks in social circles about who in specific terms can the younger generation of Nigerians emulate as regards what ideals certain Nigerians in positions of leadership/authority actually epitomise.
Curiously, how do we expect the children to develop good moral character, a spirit of hard work, honesty, and respect for the parents and elders and become responsible citizens tomorrow? Everyone is pointing their fingers at someone else for the many problems facing Nigeria today. In people’s view, virtually everyone else is corrupt and dishonest, and their own actions are out of necessity and forced upon them by others.
Nonetheless, according to folk stories from a good number of senior citizens and other Nigerians who, though painfully recall with nostalgia their loving memories of the enduring ideals of the good old days, when the young looked up to the old for direction and guidance.
That was the era when there were living legends whose great exploits and track records of uprightness in their areas of influence were alluring. It was, indeed, a period when comparatively young Nigerians would want to emulate such leaders’ sterling qualities to build a virile and progress society for the good of the majority.
It is no longer news in the country that many old and young folks alike are getting more disillusioned about what has become of certain people they perhaps hitherto ignorantly held in high esteem until the scale fell from their eyes so soon.
Being a bizarre development in the nation’s socio-economic and political system, many people’s disappointments in certain individuals and institutions over the sudden collapse of their moral fibre cut across diverse sectors of the nation’s economy: from the Judiciary, Sports, Banking, Politics, Civil Service, Corporate Nigeria, Media, Stock Market, Academia to Religion. It is sadly, an amalgam of one shattering scandal or another at every turn!
In his ingenuous, characteristic manner while commenting on a phone-in programme on a national Television recently, regarding the growing culture of greed cum attendant corrupt practices by the leadership, when moral fabric freely collapses like a pack of cards these days, and the need to entrench good leadership so as to lift the country out of the woods, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere Renewal Group, captured the scenario this way: “A man that has no character breaks down under pressure.”
Another young man, simply identified as Odu, who peradventure out of sheer frustration from reading about or watching clips of cases involving “big” Nigerians getting enmeshed in some financial scandal or mismanagement of resources over time, in “You Tell Us” readers’ opinions segment of NEXT on Sunday had expressed his view piercingly.
The reader, in the publication, had lamented thus: “Is there any trusted public officer left in Nigeria?… why can’t people be honest in doing their jobs according to laid-down rules? Nigeria can never move forward with people with no integrity or probity like this in public administration. I am just tired and ready to check out!”
Interestingly, in her continued stride to propagate the core message of her Re-branding Nigeria Project, while realising the fact that a good, prosperous society is built through the meaningful efforts of individuals constituting the human community, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Nigeria’s Honourable Minister for Information and Communications, recently called for what is referred to as personal or self-branding, which begins with individual Nigerians.
One cannot but agree with her that the task of positioning the country in a good stead in the comity of nations should, indeed, start from individuals, families or homes as these constituents or units are microcosms of the larger society.
Despite the flurry of disappointments that a great number of Nigerians have had in many individual leaders and institutions because of their inability to demonstrate clearly moral rectitude and ideals in their areas of influence in our national life, it needs to be restated that there is no doubting that we, consciously, can have many more Nigerians whose lifestyle, outlook, disposition, values-based leadership could endear them to others as role models.
This goal Nigerians can achieve when they consciously, are able to track what they do regularly that it is in the best interest of the majority; develop a good behaviour and turn it into a habit; make and stick to strong resolutions to leave a worthy legacy after their sojourn here; shun greed and tempting corrupt tendencies; keep their eye simple; and have a place for God in everything they do. This is because as humans, we can do nothing on our own; but with God, everything is, of course, possible.
We all should remember as well that the people whom the younger generation strive to become in their early years will have a profound effect on how this generation will function when they reach adulthood. But then, who is your role model?