It is another new year, another decade. Happy New Year and happy new decade to everybody. A lot of us have made a long list of our New Year resolutions. What we want to achieve, what we want to start doing and what we want to stop doing. That is wonderful. It is easy to say what we want to achieve but what we want to achieve is not as good as who we would like to be in this new decade. Who do you want to be in this new decade? What do you want to be remembered for? How do you want people to feel when your name is mentioned? How many lives will you have an impact on?.

Our society is the way it is because of the content of our collective character. The average Nigerian is too busy with what he or she will acquire at all cost, to care about who we are or who we want to be. If we want a better society, we must re-examine our individual value system because it is these individual values that make the collective norm, little ripples that go very far.

As a leader in your society and a person that others emulate, what messages are you going to put out there this decade? Are you going to be a role model to the youth who look up to you? Are you going to teach them how to be responsible members of the society, how to put others first before them, how to develop themselves and the society, how to be considerate of the poor and the needy? Or are you going to show them how money is God? Are you going show them how to get whatever they want in whatever way and at whatever expense?

If we want a better society, we must understand the effect that each of our individual actions has on the collective social value system. You do not know the number of people looking up to you in your small corner. If you did you would behave better.

I look at the youths of this day and how anxious they are to make money without putting in the necessary hard work. It breaks my heart. When we fight corruption at the political level, when we fight financial crime, we forget to address the grassroots of this problem. Charity they say, begins at home. What values are we teaching the leaders of tomorrow in our home and in our schools?. I always remember the saying “There is dignity in labour”. Barak Obama sent his daughter to a restaurant in the United States to wait tables for an allowance. The first black man in the White House understood that he needed to teach his daughters the value of hardwork and humility. How many rich and influential members of our society teach their children and society this types of messages? When we go back to our communities, we make riches look like magic. When this young people watch us spend money like tissue paper and live very flamboyant lifestyles, they want to emulate us and when our society keeps getting worse we wonder why. Some parents teach their children dignity in labour by giving them housework to do for an allowance. This means that the child is taught that money is a value that is earned and not magic. This is what we should all emulate.

I have had the opportunity of interacting with some youths of today. When you discuss with them, you realize how superficial they are and how entitled they feel. You realize that their value system is hinged on how to make money as quickly as possible without putting in the necessary hardwork. Do you blame them? If they have rich parents, these parents dole out money to them as if it is manna from the sky. We are all guilty of not teaching them the right values. So this decade, if we want a better society and a corruption free society, for the sake of the future of our children, we must start teaching them values that will build our society and not destroy it. In our homes and our schools, with our nieces and our nephews, we must become the people we want them to become so it is easy to teach them to grow into great leaders of tomorrow.

Looking back at ourselves, we must learn to evaluate our past actions and decide with determination, to be better people. We must be the change we want to see in society. In our offices, in our homes, in our relationships, we must resolve to be better people every day. If others see the change in us, they will be inspired to change. This is the only way society will change. This is not about religion. This is about conscience.

In the developed nations, a member of Parliament can ride a bicycle to his office. Why is this? Why is he not afraid of being attacked? Why is he comfortable on his humble bicycle? It is because he lives in a society where the value systems encourage the collective good above the individual benefit. The society takes care of everybody and so the crime rate is   almost non-existent. The society sees flamboyance as illiteracy. Yes, flamboyance and show-off is a product of illiteracy. If you take the time to truly acquire an education, you will value the intrinsic as opposed to the extrinsic value that a person has to give. In our society, we tend to show-off when we have nothing on the inside. When we ask the Professors their perspectives about life, I mean the ones that did not influence or buy their qualifications, they will tell you why they live the way they do, simple and quiet life styles. We need to educate ourselves and educate our children. Ignorance and illiteracy and misplacement of our values and priorities is what is keeping a nation with great potential on its knees. A truly educated citizenry has a nationalistic outlook. That is why America will move mountains to protect its citizens and provide for them through a Social Security System. It is not Marsians that put this in place; it is Americans who are voted into power from the general populace. It is the sense of nationalism that breeds this patriotism.

Our collective value system affects our economy and our entire society. Nigeria has no business being an emerging or a developing nation. We are a great nation but that greatness can only be made manifest if we, in our offices, our little corners and our leadership positions and our homes, decide to change our talk and walk that talk. In this decade, let us strive to be the change we want to see in our society. Happy new decade!

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