By Chris Odinaka Nwedo
Moral relativism is a term “often used in the context of moral principles, where principles and ethics are regarded as applicable in only limited context. There are many forms of relativism which vary in their degree of controversy”. A society that has no benchmark for good or bad is gravely wounded. This is because objective platforms for determination of direction for quality principle crucial for national development cannot be found. This is because, the truth of any policy and/or programmes are forced to depend on questionable claims, idiosyncrasies and/or backgrounds of the categories of Nigeria’s imprudent national elites. Relativism, as a rejection of objective truth, leads one away from moral control and ultimately to negation of justice. Relativist repudiates the possibility of absolute evil.
The statement such as “what is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me” is common with those who assumed licence to set own guidelines for morality. The relativists delete standards for moral judgement and attempt to bring the factors for determination of good or bad under a regime of personal convenience or subjectivity. Moral or intellectual relativism constitutes denial of the capacity of the human mind and reason to arrive at total truth. One of the most easily available definitions of truth is the correspondence theory, the correspondence of the mental image and the reality or the compatibility of thought and fact. Correspondence theory refers to a situation where what you have in mind corresponds with what you have in fact. It is the mind’s conception of the same fact as it is in reality. However, greatest strength in relativism is that it is all inclusive, permissive and non discriminatory. Relativism has capacity to present solutions to all perplexing conflicts, while the common argument against relativism is that it is inherently contradicting, refuting and stultifying.
There is demonstrable clear relationship between national culture of relativism and fraud. Fraudulent behaviours are national predicaments and impeding stumbling blocks to productive politics and transparent society. The unproductive politics has disapprovingly affected the ease of living life in Nigeria. The crisis of truth is responsible for the depressing states of governance, the deliberate distortion of facts and toughening prospects of meaning life among majority of Nigerians.
John Paul II noted that “once the idea of a universal truth about the good, knowable by human reason, is lost, inevitably the notion of conscience also changes. Conscience is no longer considered in its primordial reality as an act of a person’s intelligence, the function of which is to apply the universal knowledge of the good in a specific situation and thus to express a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now”. According to the Pope, this tendency gives an individual the false impression that he/she can independently determine criteria for what is good or bad. This situation breeds and nourishes individualistic morality, where an “individual is faced with his own truth, different from the truth of others. Taken to its extreme consequences, this individualism leads to a denial of the very idea of human nature”.
It is not contestable that the courage to lie and take advantage of others has not only worsened the situations of the schemers, but are factors leading to national impasses in every ramification. Evil political ideologies are progressively taking advantage of Nigerians. Many folks have been blacked-out of any evidence of an objective and universal truth. Universal truth is the foundation of personal and social life. It has become the trend to base our judgements or choices of action not on such qualities as good or bad but on what is ‘helpful’, selfishly and capriciously.
For Joseph Ratzinger, the world is moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires…. Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires”. Relativism is humanity’s new prison, “for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own ‘ego’”. This tendency to negativity liberates no one, but actively takes-away the dignity of collective Nigerians, bounding all in fatal self-slavery, deceit and mutual wickedness. We are devoted to the self. The endless priority has always been mine, and everything of the other is resolutely out of consideration. The eventual movement from the ‘self’ is a reluctant gravitation to ours. The circumstances of this nature effectively responded to the question why Nigeria is demobilized in the captivity of waste and indiscretion. The opportunities for proper exploitation of limitless human and material assets are squandered. Today we bemoan lack of infrastructure for meaningful development mainly because the available resources are criminally expropriated for private uses. The media now is saturated with never-ending narratives of abandoned millions of dollars, pounds sterling and billions of naira in dusty street corners, bureau dé change, and uncompleted buildings and lately in forests and burial grounds according to Lai Mohammed, the minister for information and culture. Figuratively speaking, these billions were forced to be vomited because those who swallowed them were unable to get them digested. Lack of prudence in governance is as devastating to Nigerian nation as vices of waste. The sabotages of well-intended national programmes have DNA imprints of the imprudence. Nigeria’s national census figures were falsified, therefore invalid for principled national plan, the economic progress considered the function of the government’s change agenda is false, a gimmick. It is a silver-tongued propaganda in favour of 2019 general election. In addition, if there is socio-political stability in Nigeria it is purely hanged on threat of fatal force. We have fierce anti corruption war (EFCC) based on reprisal, while federal appointments are dominated by bias. For the first time, it has become demonstrated that a section of Nigeria is more virtuous and more competent. We are grappling with enormous challenge of perilous sectional loyalty.
Nigerians are religious because religion is merely the national hobby. It is simply a hobby because we practice it without obligation. Virtue or morality is the obligation of religion. Morality or honest living is like a cord binding us through religion to God. It disposes our worship to God’s acceptance and confers grace that must make us worth before God. Our street corners are dotted with Churches and Mosques yet our society is progressively horrified by horrendous crimes and injustices. We have so much of these houses of religion that we have started exporting them. The moral quality of our people is beginning to suggest that there could be other uses we are making of these churches and mosques than places of humble encounter with God.
Nigeria’s upper classes are phenomenal. They introduced and bred the mores of relativism and they are the only beneficiaries of the ephemeral gains. This culture is springing-up as a tremendously suffocating factor in the measurable strides of Nigerian state to a long-term socio-political stability, security and genuine development. It seems in fact that an objectively affirmative clean politics is more and more problematical and harder to evolve due to essentially this contagious culture falsehood. The progressive acceptance of the descriptively rebellious predispositions steadily sends confusing ripples down the lines of our capacities as a people. At the moment, it is a commonly believed in many circles that acceptance by ones’ tribe and/or religion means an active but prejudicial expansion of the network of the subjective interest freely and absolutely in the cover of ‘patriotism and public interest’. The fate of Nigerian nation cannot be abandoned to the care of the remorselessly hypocritical and constitutionally disloyal rulers who surreptitiously use falsehood and deceit to stay on, and pretend legitimacy. Many of the rulers exaggerate large sub-national followership and nation-wide acceptance.
Nigerians learnt politics and democratisation as a treacherous game of deceit, falsehood, calumny and incrimination of other competitors, a game of mendacity and devious manoeuvrings. While the rulers use unjust structures in the polity to pillory divergent political or ideological expressions, the ordinary folks give the back-up and coverage by deceitful justification. What is happening today in the nation’s spheres demonstrates pragmatically that things are not yet right enough. The hostilities, social fractionalisations and criminalisation, the tirades, the ethnic emotionalism, the desperation for sectional dominance, the subjectivity of morals, the false propaganda, and the politicisation of critical national questions are leading to an unmistakable conclusion that the nation is deliberately railed to wrong direction.
We are in era of moral relativism and “blind politicking”. Power seekers criticize imprudently, with evident malice. The criticisms of this nature do not pretend their lack of substance and short-sightedness. The opposition prefers to maliciously and thoughtlessly harp the negative and defective parts in their assessment to destabilise and harm. It is often the case that tactical approaches by parties in power to critical issues in the state or at the federal levels are indiscriminately denigrated by the opposition without proposition of any alternative. It needs to be said that Nigeria does not have opposition parties, what we are nefarious gangs of bitter religio-tribal irredentists. We do not have principled political parties what we have is misinformed groups of chauvinists gathering at periods of elections for mischief. These folks express loyalty only to evil schemes.
Surely, neither the so called opposition political parties nor parties in power have done enough to earn the sufficient support and confidence of Nigerians of good-will. It is on account of this that most political analysts believe that Nigeria’s democratisation effort is gravely impaired. At the commencement of this democratic dispensation, Nigerians were promised responsible government and improved socio-economic infrastructures as evidences of constructive transformation, but regrettably we are witnessing unprecedented levels of corruption, impunity and political indiscretion. The aftermath of these developments is continuous impoverishment of Nigerians, insecurity and political upheavals. However, the ruling parties at various levels claim to be working so hard but there seemed nothing sufficient to justify the hard work. There is no reliable infrastructure to support individual economic efforts, most economic policies of the governments at all levels appeared elite oriented. Today, the living conditions of most Nigerians are degraded. With the growing rate of poverty and crime, Nigerians scamper to stay connected to the political power track for safety at any cost. This is why it less and less flabbergasting that job seekers are becoming eager human shield for corrupt, irresponsible politicians and influential public servants who have become so powerful and thoughtless. Elections are brutal warfare where only the most treacherous survives. Ours is leadership system devoid of truth and reciprocal partnership with the people, leadership based on false propaganda. The false leadership is leadership that hoodwink and exploit the followers. This style of leadership characterizes nation conquered in absolute terms by the ones in command and who intend never to relinquish power in spite of the cost. The demoralising situation is not devoid of hope. The hope is there, we need to activate it by blowing the whistle however we can.