In danger and to be repositioned, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

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Governments have inadvertently been complicit in the decadence of society, due to their failure to develop a strategy for moral renewal. Now is the time to use the levers of state bodies. Public media should develop special civic programs to broadcast. Produced with imagination, they will attract and above all retain the attention of the general public in targeted sectors. If done effectively, advertising support will follow.

The hijacking of the #EndSars protests, the reign of ‘cult’ groups and the accompanying disorientation among the youth of Yorubaland present a vivid testimony to the consequences stemming from the development of a downgraded demographic. We now have in our hands layers of people who do not have the skills to subsist, let alone survive in today’s conditions.

The downgraded are so numerous that they cannot be called ‘deviants’ or ‘outsiders’: they have entered the mainstream. It is troubling that they continue to expand and take root as a sub-group due to the current economic situation, given our undiversified economy, our lack of competitiveness and the fact that the terms of the international trade are turning against us.

What went wrong?

The usual responses are the destruction of the rural agrarian economy, the acceleration of the rural to urban exodus, and a political economy obsessed with low skills and low wages. It’s a combustible combination.

What is there to do?

I believe public enlightenment in terms of civic reorientation will help. A combination of bullying the pulpit – using mainstream faith-based organizations and the mass media, to celebrate excellence, educate and propagate traditional values, will go a long way. While I believe in public enlightenment and civic reorientation, there are limits to what they can both do. These actions will only be effective if they are rooted in real programs. We cannot ask for behavioral changes without creating the atmosphere of an environment that allows for sensible behavior.

Civic reorientation must go through the revival and modernization of learning systems. It is open to debate whether those who today obtain “freedom” from various business groups actually have the skills and tools to compete. Added to this is the scarcity of capital. Any repositioning must start with access to capital. The lack of connection between the education system and the learning environment is absurd and must be corrected.

Civic advocacy work must penetrate to the roots of structured poverty. The government must provide the basis for the ethical buffers of society before the sectarian gangs and “Yahoo, Yahoo” beggars do. The government must work by using trained orientation brigades, just like agricultural extension agents, to impart ethical values ​​by working with leaders of business groups and providing them with incentives…

One would have thought that the integration of the informal sector would be a key task of polytechnics. Instead, they have become mini ivory towers, missing both the point and a crucial opportunity. Compare that with Germany, where polytechnics are the engine room of the economy. In the German particularity, university education is free but polytechnic education is not. This shows the importance they attach to training for the acquisition of skills. In addition, trade groups should be a focal point for civic orientation.

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Our efforts must be aimed at developing strong ethical values ​​within our business model, taking businesses out of the informal sector and integrating them into a structured and, eventually, corporate society. What I recommend is nothing new. This is the kind of model that formed the centerpiece of the social cohesion program of the much-admired government of former President Ignacio Lula da Silva in Brazil. For example, by organizing groups of craftspeople into “builders’ cooperatives”, skills have been improved, capital has been provided and, as a precondition for entry into these groups, strong ethical values ​​have been promoted. . Programs like this have laid the foundation for lifting 40 million people out of poverty in eight years; an amazing feat in a democracy!

Civic advocacy work must penetrate to the roots of structured poverty. The government must provide the basis for the ethical buffers of society before the sectarian gangs and “Yahoo, Yahoo” beggars do. The government should work using trained referral brigades, just like agricultural extension officers, to impart ethical values ​​by working with business group leaders and providing them with incentives in a structured, transparent and accountable manner for benefits mutual and for the good of society.

In the words of Tony Blair: “We have to be tough on crime and even tougher on the root causes of crime”. Civic orientation must cease to be an elitist, judgmental, “bleeding heart” push, but an anti-poverty tool for practical demonstration that personal advancement can be achieved not on deviance, but rather on values ethics. The informal sector, made up of those who leave school and do not enter higher education, is so predominant that work and reorientation programs must start there.

From there, we can move on to similar evolving programs for markets, transport sectors and students. Using all available media, especially state-controlled ones, the propagation must be that ethical values ​​lead to lasting rather than fleeting success. Again, elite targeting has ignored the strata that form the bulk of the direction of societal mores, and this needs to be corrected. I must stress that each organ of the State has an essential role to play in the dissemination of ethical values.

In the age of new media, the conventional interpretation of “orientation” is jaded and past its sell-by date. It must be invigorated with the fierce urgency of the present as an imperative to redirect the energies of deviance towards the good of society, for individual and collective advancement. Ethical values ​​must be refreshed as a ladder of fulfillment and advancement.

Recall that in the 1950s and early 1960s, government media incorporated traveling media troupes to stage morality plays in markets, convey socially-friendly ethical mores, and reinforce societal solidarity and tradition. This should be revived by new forms of media, both mainstream and new media. Segmented group targeting of the key effectiveness factor, as opposed to the current one-size-fits-all mantra, which has proven ineffective, must be abandoned.

Governments have inadvertently been complicit in the decadence of society, due to their failure to develop a strategy for moral renewal. Now is the time to use the levers of state bodies. Public media should develop special civic programs to broadcast. Produced with imagination, they will attract and above all retain the attention of the general public in targeted sectors. If done effectively, advertising support will follow. There must be synergy between government agencies, traditional institutions and state-controlled media. For example, what synergy is established between the ministry, agency or department in charge of cooperatives and the state-controlled media? There should be if we really want to impart moral direction and values. The same applies at all levels. Civic orientation and reorientation of discouraged and dysfunctional youth must now be undertaken with the strategic imperative of an advertising campaign, using focus groups and segmentation.

In the age of new media, the conventional interpretation of “orientation” is jaded and past its sell-by date. It must be invigorated with the fierce urgency of the present as an imperative to redirect the energies of deviance towards the good of society, for individual and collective advancement. Ethical values ​​must be refreshed as a ladder of fulfillment and advancement.

Civic orientation begins with a strategic reorientation of state broadcasters. A retreat is to be held with a keynote address on “Youth Guidance for Sustainable Development” and a “Youth Quake” concert as a tool for mass mobilization for enlightenment. There are cost effective ways to do this.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú, a lawyer, strategist and political analyst, is an Information Commissioner in Ondo State. Twitter: @BamideleUpfront; Facebook: facebook.com/Bamidele. BAO


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