The words are, ironically, just the direct opposites of the lexemes in the “national motto” enshrined in Section 15 of the 1999 Constitution. The said section provides “Motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.”
But the paradoxical discrepancy between stated objectives and realities is not confined to the motto alone; it extends, more palpably, to the virtues described as “national ethics” under Section 23 of the Constitution. The said section states “The national ethics shall be Discipline, Integrity, Dignity of Labour, Social Justice, Religious Tolerance, Self-reliance and Patriotism.”
Integrity comes next, everyone will agree that if ever there is one scarce commodity in Nigeria, it is men and women of integrity; the extent of corruption in the land is a direct index of want of integrity in the character contents of a sizeable segment of Nigerians.
What of dignity of labour”? Many civil servants are not only lazy, they see their offices as avenues for self-enrichment, the government itself has no workable blueprints for efficient, dynamic labour-force; People also have the attitude of looking down on many jobs for being lowly and menial as if white collar jobs are the only ones essential in the society.
As for social justice, is our socio-political and economic order not structured in such a way that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer? In justice sector for instance, you would realise the poor’s access to justice is not only curtailed by the exorbitant cost of adjudication, it is also hampered by selectivity. We read in the dailies about a roadside mechanic who was sentenced to “death by hanging” by an Oleh High Court in Delta State, for stealing a car stereo!
This is happening in a nation where influential politicians who stole hundreds of billions of naira from public treasury find judicial refuge in plea bargaining- the farcical contrivance through which they give up a negligible fraction of the loots in exchange for watered –down, slap-on-the- wrist sentences.
Then we have “religious tolerance” as the next ethic, My God! Religious what? Thousands of innocent souls have died via inter-faiths-belligerence, underscoring the shame that our various faiths have always proved incapable of harmonious co-existence as a result of mutual intolerance.
Now, who is talking of self-reliance? We cannot even rely on ourselves just to refine our natural products like crude oil, having to import refined PMS from abroad. Don’t we spend hard-earned foreign exchange to import necessities, luxuries and even vanities? Our rate of reliance on foreign expertise is so painfully enormous that it is debatable if we can survive without foreign dependency. In every household in any modern Nigerian city today, 98 percent of all items, utensils, fitting and fixtures are imported.
As for patriotism, where are the patriotic Nigerians? May be one in a thousand!
The pertinent question here is why is our national character so diametrically opposed to our self-chosen, much-vaunted national motto cum ethics? We must remind ourselves that wishful thinking has never accomplished anything laudable; people as rational, sentient beings must purposefully and tenaciously work towards accomplishment of whatever worthy goals they have set for themselves.
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