“The Federal Ministry of Finance’s whistleblowing programme is designed to encourage anyone with information about a violation of financial regulations, mismanagement of public funds and assets, financial malpractice, fraud and theft to report it.” – www.whistle.finance.gov.ng
The primary goal of the finance ministry’s whistleblowing policy is to support the fight against financial crimes and corruption. It does this by increasing exposure of such crimes through the encouragement of voluntary information about corrupt practices. Whistleblowers are to be protected from harassment and intimidation, and will be rewarded with a percentage of the loot, which will be deployed towards financing Nigeria’s infrastructural deficit and other pressing national needs.
Certainly, the fact that staggering amounts of money are being recovered is a measure of the success of the policy. But the more fundamental issue that should concern us all is that of a fractured value system.
“Our values are important because they help us to grow and develop. The decisions we make are a reflection of our values and beliefs,” says Barrett Values Centre.
A society that celebrates a person’s worth based on his or her assets, connections, and influence is superficial, as it builds a social stratum based on material things, amassing and clinging to possessions and position. A materialistic society rates individuals not on personal character and achievement, but rather on the fantastic show of opulence.
In Nigeria, sadly a societal value system has evolved where material fortune has, for decades, been more widely celebrated than diligence, honesty, honour and integrity; such virtues are seldom accorded the respect they deserve. Primary success should include character, integrity, humility, service above self, and legacy; these are far more important than title, position, bank accounts, properties, and other material possessions.
As materialism becomes endemic and as a society values money, power, position, and possessions and acknowledges and celebrates wealth without questioning its source, there is a tendency for people to go to extremes to fulfill an insatiable desire for money. This ultimately leads to dishonesty and corruption.
As people compete to put the trappings of wealth on display, the seeds of corruption are sown. Greed and the insatiable love for materialism are at the root of bribery and corruption, which have eaten deep into the marrow of society. The endless desire of all strata of society, both rich and poor, for possessions inevitably leads to moral decadence.
Anti-corruption strategies should include moral education and a strengthening of the ethical principles that guide civilised society. The nurturing of ethical and moral values starts in the home and should be re-introduced into schools.
The family is the smallest unit of society; this is where it all starts. There is no greater legacy than to raise children with a strong value system; this is the foundation of all that children come to believe and who they become. It is crucial to include children in discussions of family values so that they begin to understand where their parents stand on issues. This understanding gives children and teens a moral compass as they step out into the world and start to make decisions on their own. Values act as the signposts, the compass that sets them in the direction.
To spare the next generation from the scourge of materialism, we must teach our children and our youth, by example, that their true value lies in their inner qualities – their kindness, sensitivity, creativity and compassion rather than their looks, performance, possessions, and money. They must be taught to embrace hard work, discipline and diligence as means to success and not be under pressure to seek shortcuts to amass wealth.
In the final analysis, it comes down to your values. Children will do what you do and not what you say, which underscores the importance of being a role model. As children grow, surround them with value-driven people, like- minded people who are an extension of the values that you hold dear and wish for them to imbibe. Let us engage our youths about what ethical behaviour is, what corruption is and how to fight it.
Corruption destroys the social fabric and economy of a country and it is for every citizen to start with their own sphere of influence at the micro level to do the right thing. The fight against corruption, the fight for a restoration of our core values cannot be left to government alone; it must be our collective responsibility.