The 7thForum of Laureates of the Nigerian National Order of Meritheld on December 2nd-3rd in Merit House, Abuja. It was kindly opened by His Excellency the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E Dr. GoodluckEbele Jonathan, GCFR, ably represented by H.E. Arch. Mohammed NamadiSambo GCON, the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Theme of the Forum was “The National Value System”. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese, Sokoto, presented the Keynote address.
Laureates discussed the Theme of the Forum under the following three sub-themes:
· Fundamentals of the National value system;
· The National Value System and Good Governance; and
· The National Value System andCorruption.
In his opening remarks, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria emphasized the critical roles of intellectuals in nation building the world over and stated his expectations of no less a role for our intellectuals. He therefore identified strongly with the theme of this year’s Forum.
In his keynote address, Bishop Kukahstated that there are clearly defined values which serve as a National compass and stressedthe use of religion as a foundation for morality. He spoke aboutthe need to emulate the five values of the Asian Tigers, namely: Collectivism, Conformity, Humility, Endurance/Sacrifice, Honour and Obedience to law and order.Furthermore the keynote address observed that although the Almajiri school system is a good initiative, it should be made more integrative in terms of patronage instead of being designed solely for Muslims. He concluded by saying that our values should address the issue of inequality, justice and ethnicity so that we can all learn to put Nigeria first before any other consideration.
Based on the presentations, discussions and comments by the participants, some major observations were made, as follows:
(i) The National value system is “a set of lasting beliefs or ideals shared by most citizens of a country about what is good or bad in that country”;
(ii) There are universal values in all religions, whether traditional, Islam or Christianity and in all cultures and these are observed from the home and family, the different educational institutions; etc.
(iii) The values are manifested through tradition, technology and even through crisis, while sanctions are imperative to change our values for the better;
(iv) Leadership at ALL levels, beginning from the families, educational institutions, societies, governance,etc should be more proactive in shaping the behavioral outcomesof children and their followership through proper value education.
(v) In this respect, the unethical practice of some academics and other professionals is a major challenge in our polity;
Based on these observations, the following recommendations were made.
(i) That not-withstanding the identification of set values in the 1999 constitution, Nigeria should develop its own national value system. Thus, the Botswana example, “botho” which involves Democracy, Development, Self reliance and Unity could be emulated;
(ii) That there should be a deliberate system for the preparationof leaders, based on agreed national value system;
(iii) That the national value system should guarantee poverty eradication, universal education and universal empowerment;
(iv) That the followership should demand accountability at all levels and they themselves should live by the values through voluntary compliance;
(v) That sanctions for non-conformity should be honestly and faithfully applied without exception when there is a contravention of values while incentives should be adopted for upholding these values;
(vi) That the Government should adopt a policy of character education as an integral part of the national transformation process, including the teaching and use of Nigerian languages and identification of men and women of excellence as role models;
(vii) That the Government should encourage the policy of tolerance for other peoples’ beliefs, views and dispositions;
(viii) That the Government should adopt a deliberate policy to regularly upgrade the roles of national academies and international acknowledged professional associations.
Prof:Etim Moses Essien,
OFR, NNOM,FAS, MD, FRCPath, FMCPath, TWAS Laureate in Medicine.
Chairman, Governing Board, NNMA