On moral decadence and readers’ reactions

Indecent-Dressing-2Worried about the pervasiveness of moral decadence in the Nigerian society, the Islamic College, Ilorin, themed its 9th Graduation and 14th End-of-the-Session Programme “Moral Decadence in the Society and the Review of the Educational System” to which this writer was invited as Guest Speaker. The event was held last weekend (August 8, 2015) at the premises of the school.

Fifteen of the contemporary social ills and forms of moral decadence that I highlighted on the occasion included excessive materialism, alcoholism, drug abuse, indecent dressing, fornication and adultery, corruption, little or no respect for human life, abortion, prostitution, homosexuality, robbery, sexual excitement (in the media, music, and movies), kidnapping, human trafficking and baby industry. The illustrations of these vices were given through a review of news reports, to which some members of the audience added more.

As no society can advance beyond its education, the solution to the almost collective moral degeneration that chokes Nigeria lies in our education. As Prof. Babs Fafunwa discussed in his well-known book, “History of Education in Nigeria” (1974), Nigeria has three systems of education. These, according to him, are traditional education, Islamic education and Western education.

When Western education came at the end of the 19th Century, the last in the continuum, we turned our traditional education system to a piece of garbage and we cast it away. The society is paying heavily for it now. We later trivialised religious education such that Islamic Studies and Christian Religious Knowledge have been removed as independent school subjects, compressed today to mere topics in, or components of, an omnibus subject that amalgamates five subject areas.

With Western education, many of us Nigerians have been “Westoxicated” to the extent that every moral perversion emanating from the West, including homosexuality, the most recent, is deemed normal. Everything condemned by our traditional and religious education systems is now trendy and new heights in nerve-wrenching moral decadence are being attained each day. Obscene scenes, foul language and lewd lyrics are becoming part of our social order, for example, and we are helpless.

Just as balanced diet is needed for the health of the body, balanced education is needed for the heath of the Nigerian society. The components of this balanced education are traditional, religious and Western education.

This is where parents have crucial roles to play by seeing to the traditional and religious education of their children while the school system addresses their Western education. The snag is that he who lacks something cannot give it: how many of today’s parents themselves have traditional and religious education? How many of those who have it even have the time to impart it given our collective obsession with eking out a living?

Meanwhile, as the last two articles on this page bordered on morality, the following are some of the readers’ reactions:

Re: Abati’s albatross

“…to see him as a good actor that has only played a bad role. He is still capable of playing good roles in future…” This suggestion is rejected prompt and ad infinitum. Abati and his likes will not, should not get that prized attention audience are obliged to give an actor – suspense, disbelief. Henceforth, we should be on our guard for “act out sincerity” in public intellection.

As for “these fans were shocked to realize that he negated all the values and principles he had stood for when the reality of juicy power dynamics dawned on him,” I had the good fortune of knowing who Abati is. On a day, I was extolling his writing prowess in public intervention on policies and issues, our “oga” (whom you know, preceded Abati in The Guardian) remarked in his usual soft but moral-laden tone… “won kan n pontificate na ni. They are always hankering on power and position.” This was in the presence of Dr Lambe. The remark insulated me against what Abati turned out to be in public service. – Oba Abdulkadir La’aro

“As a fan of Dr Abati, I urge Nigerians, I mean the ‘collective children of anger’ of the Jonathan era…to see him as a good actor that has only played a bad role. He is still capable of playing good roles in future now that he is back…. We cannot throw the baby out with the bath water. We can forgive the past without necessarily suffering from amnesia”. Dear Dr., I know you know him before you said this about him. But I am sure he is projected to be playing a bad role. If we think of him otherwise, we are going to suffer from amnesia. I am also sure that he doesn’t have the courage to do what you proposed for him in this article because he is still a slave of his ethical boundary.         Taofiq Omotayo Auwa

The people’s anger towards Abati will not cease to abate except he apologises on all the platforms where he had offended our general sensibilities. I doubt if this will happen. And should he heed your advice to write on those topics without appeasing his “offendees”, he will be sitting on a terrible time-bomb for himself. Better still, he has the option of writing a book which would cover those topics, and more. – Afiz Akinde

Re: Music videos or moral assassins?

Sir, since you’ve made a reference to the Second World War, permit me to re-title the write-up as “Music videos or Atomic Bombs?” As the survivors of atomic bombs in Japan have gone and will go to their graves with their horrific experiences, so also will our generation that has termed morality as “story for the gods”. Let me add this in reference to your previous write-up on the state of our education and to point out our students’ misplaced priority. I have students that could sing all these moral atomic bomb songs from A to Z but they could not memorize a sonnet!     – Oluwasola Ojo

Hello, Dr. To be candid, you have hit the nail on the head with an unshakeable accuracy. Salt is used for rectifying spoiling food. What happens when the salt itself is spoiling? Our problem in Nigeria is known by many different names: corruption, embezzlement, dishonesty, looting, bad education, unemployment and others. And many solutions have been propounded and proffered in the hope of ameliorating if not eradicating them. But alas, majority of the solutions have only been reactive not proactive. One of the root sources of our incessant predicament, moral decadence as a result of unrefined music is what you have addressed with your article. I hope people will see the lessons inherent in it, take to it and abide by it. For this is the surest way of ridding us of our problems. And to achieve this, all hands must be on deck. – Olayiwola Olayide Waliyulah