As we reflect on the United Nations International Day of Families 2012 commemorated on May 15, 2012 and the event organized by Global Educators for All Initiative and the Millennium Development
Ambassadors in Abuja, Nigeria, I feel that it is high time we re-focus on the central role of the family in addressing the many challenges facing the Nigeria nation.
There are three fundamental challenges that the Nigeria nation and its citizens and leaders are facing. First, is the issue of religious bigotry which has manifested through several forms of religious crisis and killings. The second challenge is related the regional ethnic hatred among the many indigenes of the country that should have become national citizens. The third and most external challenge is the issue of misuse of the national resources in Nigeria in the country. This has led to huge cases of corruption in literally every segment of the society. Many feel that while religious and regional differences may be easily addressed, the issue of resource misuse and abuse seem to
defile all the strategies adopted so far. Corruption has been the main reason for military interruption of civil rule in Nigeria since the first republic but yet we are unable to arrive at a corrupt free society. There is the need to re-examine the approach to combating corruption in Nigeria.
As we reflect on the issues from the UN International Day of Families, the time has come to examine the role of the family in the battle against corruption. From birth, most of the present generation of
Nigerians were corruptly born, raised up by corrupt parents, attended schools built by with corrupt money, had teachers who corruptly got their degrees and who corruptly issue certificates. We live in a system where leaders are selected corruptly and elected in very corrupt processes under political parties formed by corrupt people. We find ourselves in a system where everything is corrupted. Has anyone found a born again Christian praying in a Muslim mosque? You can find them in the churches. So, you cannot find corrupt free leaders in a corrupt system like ours, unless we want to continue to pretend about corruption.
The battle against corruption must therefore begin from the womb in the family. We have to be “reborn” and to grow through a new national order. There is the need to resurrect the dead family values that our traditional communities were known for. We need to return back to the traditional kingship model where leaders naturally emerged and not the present system where leaders are “hired” to lead the nation. The present national philosophy of self reliance and independence is producing corrupt people. We need a new national philosophy of collective reliance and living for the sake of others. We need to become an interdependent nation and mutual interdependence begins from the family where each member lives for the sake of other members. This is the transformation process required to get corruption out of the system and produce a new generation of citizens of Nigeria and not corrupt indigenes of tribes.
The present Federal Republic of Nigeria with 36/37 states as federating units promotes corruption. We need a new Nigeria not of states as federating units but true families as federating unit.
Nigeria needs to become a Family Federation, where the family stands clearly as the building block of the nation. The battle against corruption must begin from the family and not in political parties. We must go back to the basic unit of our nation and establish a national order of the family. The family unit can address the issue of corruption.
Herein lies the need for the establishment of a Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, the introduction of family education in schools and colleges as well as the need for a national family day celebration to
strengthen the families in Nigeria. Realizing that marriage is the gateway to the family, the moment has arrived where we need to formalize and invest in the marriage institution so that we can assure
the quality of families being established in Nigeria. In the past, people were more worried about their family names, when families were considered very important. The collapse of the true
family values is responsible for corruption and all forms of criminality in our nation.
Today, we have children without parents, families without direction,love and care. People are not gaining the true love for one another in the family and are growing into the wider society with the heart of enemies. Yet, when we search deeper into the activities in the families, we will realize that most of the criminal acts being committed in the communities and around the nation are not clearly
taking place in the family. Do we have leaders who are stealing their immediate family resources and going out to waste them on other families? Not really! Why? The sense of familyhood is the reason.
People steal public resources for the private use with their family members but no one is ready to steal the private family resources to spend on the public masses. We need to learn a lesson here. So, what will happen if all of Nigeria becomes my family or our family? Shall our family members as citizens of Nigeria feel happy stealing our family resources to give away to others? I am not sure if any citizen will do just that.
Our colleges and universities are characterized by criminal activities by cult members. Do secret cult members in school stab their brothers and sisters at home? The answer is NO and the reason is the bond of family relationship. Those who rape young women for indecent dressing in schools do not rape their sisters who are mostly naked in the family home because of the sense of familyhood. Recently, we have witnessed unimaginable destruction of lives and properties by militant
and terrorist groups. Yet, one fundamental observation is that despite the fact that terrorists have weapons of mass destruction and use them on others, they hardly attack members of their immediate families whom they live with even without any security checks there. They wait to
target others who are perceived as enemies. What this teaches us all is that if we can all become members of one big family with a common parents, we shall all live as brothers and sisters and will not be able to harm one another.
As a family, parents will guide their children to live together and will not steal the resources meant for their children’s welfare. In schools, teachers will teach with the heart of parents and will not
corruptly exploit their students. In the wider society, no leader will seek to enrich himself corruptly at the expense of the citizens who are like his children. So, if Nigeria becomes a one family nation, no leader will want to destroy the family name nor steal the family resources to take to other nations.
This is the missing understanding in the battle against corruption. Corrupt leaders do not feel the pains of other citizens who suffer from their corruption because they are not their family members. We need to make the citizens to become family members and corruption will go. As long as we ignore this wisdom but focus on killing or jailing corrupt persons and not addressing the corrupt system, the cycle of corruption will continue and Nigeria may emerge the most corrupt in the world by 2020. We need to act now by thinking globally but acting locally. This means that the family remains the most sustainable institution for the eradication of poverty and other anti-social
behaviours. We need to recover the lost glory of the family and raise a new generation of Nigerians to serve our common future.
Raphael Ogar Oko ,International Coordinator Global Educators for All Initiative (GEFAI)
www.globaleducators.org .He is also Co-Founder, Marketplace School Initiative (MPSI)