“The Problem in Nigeria is not about the north versus the south, it’s not about Christianity versus Islam, it’s not about APC versus PDP. The Problem in Nigeria is Right versus Wrong”
Ben Murray-Bruce (2016)
When I first saw the theme of the Great Ife Writer essay contest 2016; “What is the Most Challenging Issue in Nigeria and how would you solve it?”, the well applauded words of the “Common Sense” advocate, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, at the Silverbird Man of The Year 2014 were what came to mind. Many friends have asked why I did not submit an entry for the contest and my major reason was that the topic, though greatly depending on objectivity, is too subjective to just write what any judge wants.
The founder of the Silverbird group stated the problem of Nigeria to be “right versus wrong”. Very simple it appears but perhaps this statement is not as simple as it seems after all, especially considering the unending controversy that has trailed the concept of “Right versus wrong” over the centuries. From the early religious definitions of morality to the much revered work of popular philosophers and scientists (Socrates, St Augustine, Westermarck, Hobbes, Hume, Kant and a host of others), the concept of morality has remained one that no one has been able to accurately grasp. I believe the major reason for this is found in the words of the fictional character Micheal Murdock aka Daredevil (Yes, I use Netflix too), “…Sometimes the delineation between right and wrong is a sharp line, sometimes it’s a blur and often it’s like pornography; you just know when you see it…”. However, even with the impalpability of the concept of right and wrong, several human societies have been able, to a reasonable extent, to establish some codes to guide its existence in order for it to thrive. These codes are established upon different foundations depending on the type of society in question and its end goal. The Nigerian society is not excluded.
Assessing the very basis of our formation, it is not totally clear what Lugard’s true intentions were when he and Lady Shaw established the body “Nigeria”. As a matter of fact, very many speculations and opinions have trailed their decision. But still, one certainty may be deduced, especially considering other experiments of the “colonial masters”; Lugard’s actions were definitely not totally selfless. But then again, due to the incomplete determinability of what Lord Lugard’s intentions were, it is difficult to tag his actions right or wrong.
1914 is a long time ago and many decisions have been made in Nigeria and by Nigerians both right and wrong since then. Many would opine that the greatest problem facing the present day Nigeria is Corruption. Indeed! But worse, it is not just the corruption of men; I believe it is the corruption of the very Ethical codes that both make us humane and upon which our society as an institution is established. The origin of this cancerous phenomenon has been traced to a few years after independence, even though some believe it was before this time. However, over the years we have watched it spread to all arms of government and even trickle down to smaller institutions. As it stands now, the condition is so bad in some agencies that we no longer even know what is right and what is not. Any good physician knows that it is never an easy task to treat a cancer, most especially if it has become so intricate with the host. It would require very delicate treatments and care.
On a final note, ask me, “What is the most challenging Issue in Nigeria and how would you solve it?”
I will answer in my extended version of Senator Benedict Murray-Bruce’s words; “…The problem in Nigeria is Right versus Wrong and there is only one solution; we must remind ourselves which is right and which is wrong and we must tilt the balance towards the right side. It’s that simple…or complex”