“The Nigerian child of my generation has grown up seeing corrupt leaders being celebrated. He has learnt that all you need to have to be respected is wealth; no one cares how it was gotten. Hard work and discipline no longer mean much to him.”
The above quote culled from the winning essay of Fadilah Saliu-Ahmed from Zamani College, Kaduna State, jolted the audience who had gathered last week at the Muson Centre in Lagos for the 17th Mike Okonkwo annual lecture.
It set the mood for a scintillating discourse on the theme of the event, which is ‘The state of the Nigerian nation: Redefining our values,’ anchored by Chief Arthur Mbanefo, with Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr and Mr. Gbenga Sesan as speakers.
The annual lecture, instituted in 2000 as part of activities to mark the birthday of the Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Dr. Mike Okonkwo, has been the clergyman’s contribution to nation building. Each occasion has addressed and offered probable solutions to critical national issues.
This year, amid growing public distaste towards the avarice of the present crop of leaders, Okonkwo, who turned 71 years last Thursday, blamed all acts of terrorism, insurgency and other vices currently rocking the country on dysfunctional family value systems.
While acknowledging that the masses were expecting a lot from those in authorities, he said until we restore our value systems, government would not be able to do much.
“Our values have been eroded in this country. Every system is virtually breaking down and it has to do with values as individuals and as Nigerians. We got it wrong when we started celebrating money much more than character and performance.”
He, therefore, called on parents to rise up to their responsibilities by instilling moral values into their children, which, he said, would bring the needed change for Nigerians.
On his part, Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, said Nigerians, irrespective of religious, tribal and political affiliations, should join hands with government to build a strong, united and virile country.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, the governor said: “All nations derive their identities from entrenched values, which are transmitted from generation to generation by families.
“These give the strength and historical direction towards greatness for individuals and countries. We need to retrace our steps to the values laid down by the founding fathers of this nation,” he said.

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