Problem of Nigeria Value System and Workable Solutions


Human society exists for individual and group life. Societal rules are made by people and the same rules guide the behavior of citizens. Situations in the society warrant members to value things as good or bad. Man’s efforts in any given situation are geared towards survival. Human struggles for survival are informed by drives of hunger, sex, aggression, and loyalty to tribe or group (Keith, 1976). Sexual reproduction is a positive duty in the propagation of one’s own kind. Aggression is an inborn instinct in humans. Aggressiveness is a strong drive in man necessary for his survival for which society provides acceptable ways of doing things so that others may not be destroyed. Social relationships are closely associated with people of the same culture and language as the bedrock of group solidarity and survival. Loyalty is a strong element in human nature but tribal loyalty is limited and a source of a major obstacle to corporate and freely pursued purposes of a world-wide community.

Definitive Features of Core Values

Generally speaking, values are beliefs or convictions that guide and direct a person’s behaviour, purpose, and vision. In other words, the value of a person defines who he or she is. Therefore our values define who we are. It is indeed our values that provide guidance, direction, and meaning in the entire purpose of our lives. Having attempted to provide in general terms what amounts to values, the question which seems to arise at this juncture is – “what are the features of core values in the dynamics of society?” The response to the raised question is that core values are broad. However, for the purpose of this exercise, the salient definitive features of core values will be limited to the following namely:


It may be construed as “affirmation of inherent worth of the human person created in the image of GOD.” It is the recognition that the human being is a creation of GOD, and that all other human beings are also the children of GOD. Therefore it takes a person to realize that all he has comes from GOD. It is the realization of this awesome fact that influences the person’s pattern of life and relationship with other persons. Succinctly put, humility as opposed to aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness and untoward disposition.


It is an offspring or product of humility. In simple terms, service is being useful and selfless to other people notwithstanding your status or the position you occupy in society. Service is an embodiment of how a person uses his GOD given endowments, talents, time and treasures to promote the common good for the betterment of all and not for altruistic considerations.


It is a polite behaviour towards another borne out of humility. Respect is not just giving one his or her due, but also an exhibition of affection, benevolence, goodwill and genuine concern for the welfare of others.


It is the act and disposition to give the people what is due to them without any form of abuse or contraptions. In precise terms, honesty is a manifestation of equity and fair play in the conduct of human affairs in the society. Honesty entails that public office holders do not extort from those they are meant to serve. The act of honesty implies for instance that a public office holder is not expected to take more than what is due to him but to give everyone their dues and entitlements7.


It entails “saying what we mean and meaning what we say.” It also means living and acting in accordance with the guidelines and principles that are good and honourable. Sincerity connotes not being deceptive to a fellow human being for selfish ends.


In both private life as well as in public service, generosity is rooted in the ability to genuinely sacrifice one’s pleasures and proven hard earnings for the benefit of other human beings.


It is the disposition and manifestation to promote justice and goodness always in the society. It is more than telling the truth. Indeed it is the body and soul of dignity, values, compassion, honesty and all that is good11. Unequivocally, people of integrity are deemed to stand up for what is right always even if it is unpopular. The significance of integrity is that it makes other people have trust, confidence in their decisions and judgment on issues. Integrity is the basis for earned reputation and self-respect in any sane society.

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Value orientation is not a recent development in Nigeria. Before westernization, the existing traditional education in Nigeria was concerned with training the children for social responsibility and political participation. The main focus of socialization in the African traditional society is character training. All the agents and processes of socialization aimed at producing individuals who are truthful, hospitable, honest, respectful, skilled, obedient and patriotic.

In the modern Nigerian society, both formal and informal approaches are adopted to inculcate societal values in the citizens. The formal approach involves the use of school subjects to educate learners on civic matters. The Nigeria National Policy on Education (NPE) provided for citizenship training and the inculcation of civic values at the different levels of the school system. Section 2 (f) of the NPE stated that the purpose of pre-primary education should be to develop a sense of cooperation and team spirit. Section 3 (c) stated that the goal of primary education is to give citizenship education a basis for effective participation in and contribution to the life of the society ( NPE, 2004).

To achieve these goals, value-related subjects like social studies, religious education, citizenship and civic education have been incorporated into the school curriculum. Particularly, civic education has been recently integrated into the 9-year Basic Education programme in Nigeria. Some of the aims of civic education as pointed out by Ajibade (2011) are: to enable the learners to acquire the skills, knowledge, values and attitudes that would make them to become responsible citizens; to inculcate in the child the spirit of self-discipline, hardworking, cooperation and respect for authority; to create adequate and functional political literates among Nigerians.

In addition, different Nigerian political leaders have introduced some informal approaches as means of value re-orientation in the country. Some of these approaches are: Jaji declaration by Major General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1977; National Ethical Re-orientation by the Alhaji Shehu Sagari administration in 1982; War Against Indiscipline (WAI) launched by the Buhari/Idiagbon government in 1984; Directorate of Social

Mobilization, Self Reliance, Economic Recovery and Social Justice (MAMSER) introduced by the Babangida Administration; National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) introduced by Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 2004.

The efforts of the government towards value orientation and national integration have not yielded much result in Nigeria. Ajere and Oyinloye (2011) pointed out that Nigeria is heading for a state of anomie considering all forms of dysfunctions in bevaviour patterns among youths and adults. There are certain fundamental reasons why some of the value orientation programmes of the Nigerian government have partially or totally failed.

The wrong value system in the Nigerian society partly accounts for the failure of value orientation programme in the nation. Many Nigerians pursue wealth and materialism without giving due attention to core national values. Soyinka (2010) lamented that a situation where Nigerians celebrate individuals rather than The approach to some value orientation programmes in Nigeria has rendered them ineffective. For instance, some of the value orientation programmes are characterized by political propaganda, victimization, and coercion. Commenting on the failure of value orientation programmes in Nigeria, Ugwuegbu (2004) said that value orientation programmes in Nigeria tend to emphasize more of the negative than positive values. For instance, some Nigeria political leaders focused their attention on the negative values of corruption, intolerance, and laziness without emphasizing positive values like honesty, hardworking, cooperation, and patriotism which could empower the citizens to demonstrate the expected civic traits.

Also, the state and structure of the contemporary Nigerian family are worrisome. The family has abandoned its fundamental role of socialization and child-training in pursuit of social, political and economic gains. Conflict, separation, and divorce characterize some of the present day Nigerian families. This has a negative impact on the character and personality of the young ones. This is because the very first place of learning is the home. A child is a product of his immediate environment, which is the home (Adebowale, 2007). Consequently, the cherished values of love, respect, hardworking, patience and cooperation that the Nigerian child is expected to acquire are grossly missing.

Moreover, the use of school curriculum as means of value orientation and civic training is not without its own problems. In Nigeria, the school system and the society place undue emphasis on intellectual ability and certificate at the expense of skills and values. Internal and external examinations are cognitive based. Even when civic based school subjects are introduced into the school programme, they are either poorly taught or not well implemented. Up till now, the teaching of social studies is not implemented at the Senior Secondary School level in the country. Although civic education has been integrated into the Basic Education programme, yet there is no teacher education programme on civic education to equip the teachers with the skills of teaching value-related concepts. Hence, after many years of introducing some of the school subjects, their goals are not achieved.

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The lack of national consciousness, patriotic orientation and manifestation of uncivilized acts had painfully led to social disorder and disorientation in the Nigerian society (Onipe, 2011). Therefore, the need for appropriate means of developing core values in the Nigerian citizens cannot be over-emphasized. This is the major thing that can guarantee national integration, peace, and unity in the country. Ajere and Oyinloye (2011) examined the perception of youths on the interiorization of core societal values in Nigeria. Their findings revealed that 80% of the youths resolved that Nigeria‟s dream of building a cohesive, stable and united nation cannot be achieved except adequate incentives are put in place to ensure the positive social transformation of the citizens.

Agbo (2010) pointed out that attitudinal change in both public and private lives are achievable through value orientation. This assertion is corroborated by Rock (2010) who reported that negative attitudes could be changed to positive irrespective of the period of assimilation and internalization. Ajere and Oyinloye (2011) also argued that recent research on neuroscience showed that the human brain is highly plastic. Hence, neural connections can be formed, new behaviours can be learned, and even the most entrenched behaviours can be modified at any age. Some of the means that could be used to develop core values in the Nigerian citizens are discussed below.

In the first place, the socialization role of the Nigerian family should be re-addressed. This could be done by providing public awareness through seminars and workshops for married couples. Family life education can also be integrated into all formal and semi-formal educational programmes in Nigeria. Such family life education programme should address the effects of family instability on the socialization of the young ones. Also, the various means and strategies by which the family could effectively inculcate core-values in its members should be analyzed through the programme. Adebowale (2007) further recommended that the local government, at the grass root, could have counseling unit for would be couples and homes experiencing problems.

Also, there is the need to reform the education system in Nigeria in such a way that values education becomes the main purpose of formal and informal education. Character training should be given better priority in our school curriculum. The Nigerian government should allocate required money for the development of human and material resources that are needed for character education. Martin Luther, cited in Akinjide (2006) expressed that the prosperity of a country depends not on the abundance of its revenue, nor on the strength of its fortification, but it consists of the number of its cultivated citizens, in its men of education and character. In the United States of America, for instance, it was discovered that the cultivation of citizenship and the creation of a civil society were great tasks. Consequently, in 1989, the United States of America Governors made a series of national school reform goals known as Goal 2000. Education for the development of national core values has been the central purpose of formal education in America and to some extent that education has yielded fruits in the country (Clark, 1999).

Moreover, other agents of socialization should be involved in value orientation programmes. Divergent approaches should be adopted to inculcate national ideals into the Nigerian citizens. In a focus group conducted by Ajere and Oyinloye (2011) the participating youths unanimously agreed that re-orientation programmes on core societal values through the mass media, religious houses, and other allied orientation agencies be established by the government. For instance, skill acquisition programme on core national values can be designed for religious leaders. Apart from the fact that such programme will bring leaders from various religious groups together, it will also expose them to core values that can promote unity. It will, at the same time, acquaint them with relevant information that would assist them to inculcate core national values in their followers.

Another approach to value orientation in Nigeria is the establishment of Participatory Core Value Forum (PCVF) for every category of the Nigerian citizen. The PCVF can have a national headquarter with branches in all states, local government areas, schools and other institutions. Through the PCVF, the Nigerian citizens, at different organizational levels can analyze the value problems in their localities; initiate means by which such value problems can be solved; get the PCVF members involved in demonstrating group roles, values, and skills that can promote unity. Falade and Orungbemi (2011) emphasized that such group activities will assist members to acquire values and skills that are required for followers and leaders in a democratic setting.

Again, there must be a strong conviction, vision and unrelenting mission of “a united Nigeria” in the mind of every Nigerian. Nigerian leaders, in particular, should pursue national integration with all available resources and energy. Wanogho (2011) pointed out that America is a country that shares a similar background of multi-ethnicity with Nigeria. In spite the differences in America, Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to bring his dreams of integration and unity to fruition through consistent efforts, lectures, seminars, workshops, rallies and all other effective means of enlightenment campaign. He consciously and deliberately deemphasized racism, ethnicity, religion and cultural affiliations. This accounts for the peace and unity prevailing in America today.

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Lastly, socio-economic and political restructuring is pivotal to any successful mission of value orientation programme in Nigeria. There must be credible leadership and good governance. There must also be efficient law enforcement agents and judicial system. The problem of poverty and unemployment must be solved because a hungry man is an angry man.



Adebowale, T.A. (2007). Marital conflict as a determinant of poor academic performance among some selected secondary schools in Ibadan, Nigeria. International Journal of Applied Psychology and Human Performance. 2. 393-401.


Ajere, O and Oyinloye, O.A. (2011). Perspectives of youths on the interiorization of core-societal-values in the Nigerian society. Akungba Journal of Research in Education 1 (1), 179-194.


Ajibade, I. O. (2011). Civic education: A veritable tool for promoting responsible Citizenship in Nigeria. Nigerian Journal of Social Studies, xiv (2), 68-76.


Akinjide, R. (2006). Good Governance, Oil, and National Development. Public Lecture, Akure, Jan. 31st, 2006.


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