In any society responsibility is customarily shared between the people and the government. Responsibility is also implicit in social contract which wards off anarchy. Going by this unconvoluted truism, it therefore follows that the blister-inflicting twine of irresponsibility too is tugged between the government and the people. Irresponsibility is a shared lapse; a damnable testament to people-government failure.
As a matter of fact, everyone, that includes people in the saddle, go through the gestational stage of socialisation, after which parturition of idiosyncrasies, bias, views, beliefs and predilections, occur. Indubitably, the role of society in character formation is significant. Therefore, everyone is a sculpture of the moulding of society.
Again, society is people governed by traits of culture- progressive or regressive. The dominant cultural aura or vibe of a given society determines to an extent the behavioural output and proclivities of the people in that society. That is, if corruption is a permissible cultural aberration, it becomes dominant among other cultural deviations in the genome of that society. This is in no way a sociological absolute, but a verifiable claim that can be exhumed by comparatively examining peoples of different societies and their behaviours.
Hinging on this dialectical plank, it is therefore apt to aver that the Nigerian leadership is a grotesque representation of the Nigerian people and society. The leadership is as bad as the people. The anodyne expression, “you cannot give what you do not have” captures picturesquely the Nigerian situation in this purview. Nigerian leaders are the scions of Nigerian society. Their odious discharges are from the malodorous miscarriages of the society they are born and forged in. Even those that are contaminated (in a good way) by the la dolce vita and pheromones of the better world still carry albeit regrettably, the Nigerian stink. This is not making an argument for the lamentable ineptitude of Nigerian leaders; rather it is to espouse the logic that the Nigerian leadership is a manikin of the Nigerian people and society. There is just no shade of difference between the two – the Nigerian leadership and the people.
Both the Nigerian leadership and the Nigerian people bear the ignominy of culpability in driving the country to the Paleolithic precipice. Inter alia, what is more sickening is the discomforting fact that none in the enterprise of running Nigeria aground takes responsibility for its irresponsibility. The Nigerian leadership indiscriminately throws blame at past governments and obverse groups; the Nigerian people in turn see the distant Nigerian leadership as the provenance of their woes, thus they blame it for even fiddling discomforts such as the angry army of mosquitoes that torpedoes them in their sleep at night and the sour taste of balls of “kwuli-kwuli” in their mouths.
In the same symmetrical logic, not taking responsibility for actions, inactions, situations, problems, and faults seems to be in the Nigerian genome. To illustrate this, some Nigerian parents take pugilism to their children’s school with the uncouth aim of battering their teachers for failing them. They induct their children into the “hallowed hall of irresponsibility” at a nascent age by wittingly or unwittingly encouraging them not to take responsibility for their failures and actions. There must always be someone or something to blame.
In the same vein, when such children from “molly-coddled” homes fail in WAEC, their parents become their feisty advocates, barking to all who care to listen to their racket that their children have been robbed of their true results or failed unfairly by WAEC. You hear, ” WAEC sold my son’s result”. This is usually against the backdrop of dereliction of study and laziness of their children. The same thing happens when they fail in JAMB. The excuse is usually that JAMB is corrupt, and that they have been marginalised for the sheer reason that they are not from a particular part the country. So it is when they are finally at higher institutions. The excuse for their failures in this case is that their lecturers are victimising them because of their relationship with some “fine girls” that the lecturers too are “eyeing”. And so the tradition of not taking responsibility for their irresponsibility progresses to points of rude disregard for ideals of excellence, hard work, discipline and performance.
As pointed out tangentially earlier, the Nigerian leadership and the Nigerian people share morsels of garbage from the entrée of irresponsibility. The irresponsibility of the Nigerian people is visible in the corruption of the most unlikely person of the rabble, plebian malfeasance, celebrated ignorance, denuded scruples, unabashed disrespect for simple rules and regulations, veiled peccadilloes, and the culture of low expectation according to Okey Ndibe. In fact, to be ignorant of fundamental rights; to stand and defend those rights, and to have high expectations of the government smack of gross irresponsibility on the part of the Nigerian people. On the other hand, the irresponsibility of the Nigerian leadership needs no adumbration. It is evident in the insalubrious and gangrenous state of the nation. The Nigerian leadership here implies all the governments that have failed to give Nigeria the elixir of even marginal development.
Having drawn the Nigerian leadership and people irresponsibility quadrant, it is germane to etch in the minds of Nigerians the need for the evolution of a new thinking; a thinking that the Nigerian leadership mirrors them. They are as good as the leadership and they are as bad as the leadership. Therefore corrective, surgical operations must be performed on the national body to remove the decayed arm of irresponsibility; that is by taking responsibility for their individual and collective predicaments and finding solutions to them.
Finally, Nigerians are fighting multidimensional battles which coalesce into a single armageddon-like war; they need to join hands to form a giant fist to deal it a coup-de-grace. In all, the country’s quandary proves emphatically that irresponsible people beget irresponsible leadership.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and poet. Email:email@example.com 08167992075