Wednesday, 07 October 2015 15:08

Possible Steps to End Unruly Behavior President Buhari is Decrying in Nigeria

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In his Independence speech to the nation, President Buhari decried the prevalence of unruly behavior in Nigeria and hinted that such behavior could deter progress made in his administration's effort to turn things around in the nation. It is quite interesting that the President of our populous nation should act like a parent interested in addressing a problem that befalls his children and that falls within the duties we call upon citizens, parents, teachers, and religious leaders to perform. The purpose of this essay is threefold:  briefly define the term unruly; suggest reasons for the unruly behavior Nigerians are displaying; and propose a few steps we can take to ameliorate the problem.

Buhari is absolutely right to chastise Nigerians for being unruly to the point of stupidity. Yes, my country men and women behave very stupidly. It is appalling, very bewildering. Stupidity cannot be cured by acquiring meaningless education or pretending to be a democracy. Stupid people should not expect to be rewarded with new roads and  24-hour power supply. Animals that are as wild and unruly as Nigerians ought to live freely in the open fields. They do not need new roads built or electricity supplied. They have not earned the rewards that come from successive approximations of a desired behavior.  Why must Buhari reward behavior that consists of begging, stealing, lying, bribing, taking advantage of people, looting the people's treasury or pulling the wool over someone's eyes?

For Nigeria to be a great country, it makes sense to suggest that the citizens of Nigeria ought to take their country's independence as seriously as possible. One of the ways to take our sovereignty seriously is to cease behaving in unruly fashion. The people of Nigeria are hypocrites who sweep problems under the mat and pretend things are hunky-dory. To demonstrate how dishonest this people can be, when this writer called home to support Buhari's  speech and suggest we should talk and write about our unruly behavior, a senior Lagos Nigerian civil servant issued a stern warning: "Write but don't criticize NAIJA so they would not look for the writer".

It is a shame what fear and mass madness can do to destroy a country. Criticizing Nigeria in order to make the country better and safer is a task this writer and others would consider worth dying for.

What is unruly behavior?  Google   opts that " unruly "intractable, recalcitrant,  describe persons or things that resist management or control. Unruly suggests persistently disorderly behavior or character in persons or things: an unruly child, peevish and willful; wild, unruly hair."

Unruly behavior is becoming a serious problem of almost all countries, but Nigerians' unruliness is consistently more appalling than in any other place this writer has read about.. Nigerians have mass madness as far as unruly behavior and attitudes are considered.  Normally, people become unruly when they feel that their needs are not being met in the way and time they would like to see them done. Unruly behavior might be a price we pay for rapid progress (or regression) that emanate from fast developments following the discovery and exploitation of oil/petroleum products. Humans are like children in that the more they see the more they want. Wants differ from needs, in the final analysis.

What are the major causes of unruly behavior? Four leading causes of unruly, reckless behavior or nastiness might be (1) Desire to share in the country's so-called prosperity; (2) Greed; (3) Irresponsibility on the part of many parents; and (4) Perceived bad leadership.

It makes sense to argue that unruly behavior in the Nigerian society is (a) a  learned behavior; (b) could be traceable to people's reaction to perceived billions the country makes yearly from oil with nothing trickling down to the down-trodden citizens; and (c) can be unlearned.. It could be the attitude of "let's gather it while it lasts.".People ask sad questions: "Where does all that money go to? Why don't we have some?" These questions lead to behaving in ways that are nasty. Unruliness is a nasty reaction to frustration. We become nasty in words and deeds when we fail to postpone immediate gratification.

Nastiness may come in the form of Narcissism which is defined as vanity, self-absorption, egotism, selfishness, conceit, or self-importance. It appears Nigerians, both children and adults have serious cases of greed. Have you tried to send a 100 dollars to your folks back home and the recipients fail to respond with a thank you call? Instead, they come up with unrelenting demands to be sent 1,000,000 dollars? They are not easily satisfied. They demand gratification with more intensity as material things appear in their view. Greed is seen in behaviors best described at gluttony, ravenousness voracity, insatiability, or excessive hunger that is not easily satisfied.

A few examples will illustrate the types of behavior President Buhari might be referring to. A Nigerian man I shall name Austin goes home to Nigeria with a bottle of vodka and a bottle of whisky. His Uncle Charlie comes to visit and is offered the two bottles and asked to take a tumbler of his choice. Uncle Charlie attempts to empty the liqueur. He drinks and drinks from both bottles until he falls down completely inebriated or drunk under the table. He sleeps all night at the hotel Austin is lodging at.  Because he is unable to control bladder action under such heavy influence of alcohol, he pees (urinates) in his agbada and jumper during the night.

In the morning, Austin is unable to get rid of Uncle who keeps badgering the nephew with demands for American dollars. Austin offers to give some  Naira but uncle insists the money must in dollars which he says would yield higher rates at the black market. Uncle Charlie drives  Austin in the Mercedes to a mansion he owns at Abuja where four SUV's of various models are ostentatiously paraded. Uncle has two children at the universities. The son belongs to the college gang that robs and mains citizens in a distant city. The daughter, a university graduate, is never home .Word  has it that she is seen cavorting in the company of Lagos rich tycoons.

How do we fight unruly behaviors that President Buhari is talking about? Many people feel that combating unruly behavior should start in the Nigeria homes. How do we proceed? A Nigerian educator contacted by phone says: " Moral instruction should be taught with seriousness in schools, families and churches."  The same educator says " To combat parental irresponsibility, parents must give proper and basic home training to their wards." All this talk is easier said than done. .

It appears that enforcing discipline at home by parents is one of the answers to the problem. Enforcing discipline at schools and universities are some of the other ways to tackle the problem of unruly behavior in Nigeria.. It is easier said than done in a nation as huge as Nigeria. A satisfactory solution to unruly behavior is a conundrum   A conundrum refers to a riddle whose answer is a pun, or paradox, or to any problem whose answer is uncertain. Human beings are complex and behave in uncertain ways.

Let's add a little confusion here with a few questions. How do we enforce discipline at the village level? How do we enforce discipline at the state level, starting at the office of the governor? How about enforcing proper decorum at the national level, beginning with the Senate and Aso Rock? We cannot legislate proper behavior and hope it works, can we? One possible solution could be that we provide incentives for overcoming unruly behavior. We can pass the Whistle Blower's Act which rewards citizens for reporting on corruption.

The Whistle Blower files a report  with the authorities which investigate and discipline offending parties. Let's revive pride in Nigeria and increase pleasure in being citizens of Nigeria.  Let the wind of change blow through Nigeria, the wind of good behavior. We Nigerians need to acquire decorum. We need to develop good manners, respectability, modesty, correctness, demureness, etiquette, and politeness.  Let's change our poor thinking patterns. Let's change our patterns of greed, robbery, bribery, taking advantage of other people, and being ungovernable.

In conclusion, changing our unruly behavior is a task every Nigerian (man, woman, or child) should perform enthusiastically. It is not to be lackadaisically/unenthusiastically thrown on the laps of President Buhari. If Nigerians have learned to be unruly, they can unlearn the behavior or learn not to be unruly. It is as simple as that.

Submitted by Dr. James C. Agazie, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

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James Agazie Ed D

A retired college Professor  with educational backgrounds in law (JD) education (Ed.D, MA) counseling,( MS) and and mathematics.  Write on topics dealing with Nigerian families, marriages, education, and employment.