Reflections on the Imperative of War Against Indiscipline in NigeriaArticles/Opinion, Latest News Monday, December 21st, 2015
By Bolaji Kazeem
Since the inception of the present democracy, ineptitude, corruption and indiscipline gradually crept into our ways of life eroding the cultural values that we held in high esteem such as morality and discipline in our society. The tendency to accumulate wealth through any means had been fostered on our young ones and everybody is scrambling to get their share from the national cake. The penchant for easy money had beclouded our creativity and innovative capacity that would have contributed to creation of wealth in the country.
In all facets of our life vis a vis economic, political, social and religious, corruption had found ways to permeate all spheres of our daily endeavours. The traffic gridlock Lagos state is experiencing now is due to indiscipline on the part of motorists which had been extended to Abuja. The inability of some of the elites to be orderly on the roads reflected our corrupt tendency and vision to cheat in order to get to our destinations. Aso Villa drive which is within precinct of government area had experienced early morning and evening traffic due to indiscipline of civil servants, Armed forces, police and ordinary citizens plying the four-lane road.
This bad attitude exhibited by some Nigerians everyday portraits us as citizens that lack understanding of orderliness and respect for simple traffic rules and that we require sanctions before we respect traffic rules. Recently policemen and road safety corps were drafted to maintain orderliness. This had led to free flow of traffic in the area. This scenario justified the clamour for imposition of sanctions on Nigerians that break the laws of the country.
The desirability of imposing sanctions on people that broke the laws can draw reference on what the government of former Governor of Lagos State, Raji Fashola did to motorists in Lagos to create orderliness on the road. Lagosians then started to imbibe the culture of queuing at the bus terminus thereby maintaining rules of orderliness to the extent that unlettered and educated persons as well as majority of informal sectors who ordinarily always be in a hurry now abide by these rules. This has been replicated in other areas of human activities in the city. However, when the new governor, Akinwunmi Ambode came on board, his pronouncement on the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), which the citizens misconstrued created avenue for some Nigerians to go to their former ways of indiscipline on the roads.
A mere observation of our society depicted that the following attitudes constitute act of indiscipline, rushing into buses; driving against traffic; littering the streets, jumping the queue; cheating; taking undue advantage of scarcity to inflate prices; public nuisance; lack of commitment to duty; absenteeism; forgery; impersonation; and lack of care for children and elderly to mention a few.
In retrospect, the Military regime of Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbo in 1983-84 supported the argument by public commentators that effective execution and imposition of sanctions on any Nigerians that breach the rules and regulation of the country would stem the desire of some Nigerians to go against law of the country. During this period, Nigerians imbibed the spirit of queuing up and taking their turn in every sphere of our daily activities. The tendency to be corrupt or take bribe reduced drastically as well as the activities of economic saboteurs.
The War Against Indiscipline (WAI) was launched in March 20, 1984 to address the perceived lack of public morality and civil responsibility in the society. The Federal Ministry of Information then ensured that the message of orderliness in the country was communicated to all Nigerians in the cities, towns, villages and all nooks and corners of the country. The WAI song was on the lips of every Nigerian who reminded recalcitrant people on the need to maintain decorum in all activities.
The beauty of the period was that the “WAI Brigade” under the Ministry of Information ensured that rules and regulations were maintained in collaboration with security agencies as well as support of the people. This juxtaposes the argument that Nigerians need to be monitored through both human and technological means in order to comply with rules and regulations in the country.
It is common conversation among Nigerians who travel outside the country abide by completely with the rules and regulations in such countries but refuse to comply with similar rules in Nigeria. The difference in attitude of some Nigerians was that, over there, there a when they back home. It is widely acknowledged that activities of everybody in those developed countries are closely watched by assigned security personnel armed with hi-tech facilities as well as the desire of the citizens to call you to order.
Fourteen years after WAI was launched, things seem to have gone from bad to worse because of the failure of successive governments to tackle demons of lawlessness. The inability of successive governments from 1999-2015 to sanction erring Nigerians and corporate organizations that are involved in acts that are bereft of discipline, had led to gross impunity and audacity in the country as tendency to flaunt rules and regulations continue to fester.
Not only that, our past governments continue to choose judgments of the court they would comply with without knowing that their action was eroding rule of law in the country. For example, there were many judgments that the executive arm of government refused to enforce based on the fact that it affected the supporters of the then ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while opposition’s rights were easily infringed upon.
Since assumption of the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari, which every Nigerian knows abhors corruption and indiscipline, things have started taking shape. It is well known now that is not business as usual; normalcy is seen to gradually being restored to many facets of our daily activities. It is a reality that this government will not condone indiscipline and act of corruption.
It is imperative for government agencies such Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and that of Education to charge their various departments that have the capacity to take the message of the “Change Mantra” to all nooks and corners of the country. Inculcation of civil responsibilities and public morality should be one of learning foundations for our children in nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Effort should be made to create institution that will back up apostle of “doing right things” in the society.
Government should support institutions that will sustain the tempo of discipline and change mantra of the present administration through effective funding that will enable them perform effectively in the dissemination of information to Nigerians. The appointment, deployment and termination of appointment of institutions such as Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences (ICPC) and Code of Conduct Bureau should reside with the National Assembly so that these institutions would be able to perform their duties without fair or favour.
There is need to change attitude of Nigerians to work and core values such as orderliness; meritocracy; political neutrality; integrity; discipline; professionalism; patriotism; impartiality; anonymity; accountability, and transparency. These core values must be instilled on our children right from kindergarten to imbibe the values that would take our country to greater height.
For our citizens to gain dividend of democracy, the act of indiscipline had to be jettisoned and we have to embrace the Change Mantra by keeping to time, orderliness in all our activities, diligent on duty, transparency in all our dealings and collective will to challenge indiscipline act in the society. Once these attributes are imbibed by each and every one of us, we would have the courage and authority to challenge unpopular government at local, State and Federal level.
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