Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
When those who share the same age with him are thinking of a good rest and the need to retire and to handover the burden of socio-economic and environmental agitation to the young ones, but Prof. Emeritus Otonti Nduka says he will see to the end as far as corruption and injustice continue to dominant the moral value in our society.
At the national conference on Corruption, Democracy and National Development put together by Otonti Nduka Foundation for Values Education and Nigerian Academy of Education to mark his 90th birthday celebration in Port Harcourt, the Prof Emeritus demonstrated his hatred for corruption and ill practices of acquiring wealth.
The Programme which took place at Dr. Obi Wali Conference Centre, G.U. Ake road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital was chaired by Prof. Nuhu Yaqub, the Vice Chancellor, University of Sokoto. And the keynote speaker was Dr. Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili who extensively spoke on corruption and the way out.
Apart from cutting his 90th birthday cake, the Prof. Emeritus also presented three books, titled: Values Education and National Development, The Roots of African Underdevelopment and Otonti Nduka: The man and his works.
Speaking that the event, the Ikwerre born Prof emeritus Otonti Nduka said, “I must confess that for ever so long I have often looked at some men and women of wealth and influence in the face with a mischievous or wry smile sometimes with undisguised horror and even contempt. The gamut of my “righteous anger” extend for various reasons, from some heads of state, Governors and top civil servant, ministers and the legislators, element of the judiciary, top bankers and business men. The military establishment, to the Pentecostal establishment, element of the academia and the teaching profession as well as to parents and guardians who have helped to lower our educational gold standard by aiding the abetting various forms of examination malpractice and corrupt practices In various walks of life.
“We may wonder why the net appears to be extraordinarily wide. Let us advert to some of the various facts that have been tumbling out of hidden closets in recent times, thanks in part to the exposes facilitated by the internet and those revealed by government probes and international collaboration. A sample will do. Here we go: The billions of naira and dollars siphoned from the national treasury and deposited abroad by late General Abacha and other government functionaries, dead or alive.
“The monumental pension fund and other financial frauds traceable to, or are being investigated in the office of the Head of service of the federation as well as parallel scams in many ministries across the country. The scandalous misappropriation or squandering of state resources by some governors, the impunity with which legislators across the country allocate a scandalously high proportion of the national resources to themselves in the form of salaries and allowances has made me to say we must speak in one voice to fight the fight if we must get it right.”
The former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili who had told the guests at the event that she has no choice than to honour Otonti Nduka National Conference on corruption, democracy and national development which coincided with his 90th birthday celebration said Nigerians must learn to support the fight against corruption, adding that any society that tolerate corruption needs a serious surgical operation to bounce back on its sense to know that corruption is a disease.
She said corruption has eaten deep into the soul of the country and has made some Nigerians to now support corruption and attacking anyone who want to fight corruption with the idea that those identified as being corrupt are not the only people indulging in the evil practice.
Ezekwesili who extensively lectured on corruption, Democracy and National Development said the poor are the victims in any corrupt society. Stressing that corruption has robbed Nigerians of basic amenities subjecting them to socio-economic torture. She said the education that is being provided today under public school which many prominent Nigerians have privilege to attend and secured their feature is nothing but a mockery.
She noted that transparency is the only antidote to corruption especially where the public refused to romance with corrupt individuals and showed intolerance to corruption and corrupt individual. “The best antidote of corruption is transparency; corruption within the transparency institution is described as misuse and abuse of office. Many things have gone wrong in Nigeria because of corruption and some Nigerians are tolerating corruption because they believe that those accused of corrupt practices are not the only one.
“ I am worried because the children of the poor are mostly the victim of corruption, young women who were sent to acquire education where abducted. But I have said it before now, that the education of the poor cannot be made as a basis of mockery. There are few people who believe that there is no chance for Nigeria ever making it again. But to tackle corruption in Nigeria you have to face all manner of attack, opposition and mockery. But more than 60 percent Nigeria are living in poverty after more than trillion dollars earning over the period of oil discovering. This alone should make the citizens not to tolerate corruption. “
The chairman of the occasion, Prof. Nuhu Yaqub thanked the Initiator and the Members of the Otonti Nduka Foundation for Values Education, for extending an invitation to him to come and attend as well as to chair the opening ceremony of this National Conference.
He noted that has previously come to the City of remarkable importance to the Nigerian nation-state; but, I do not think he has been honoured as much as on this occasion that he is required to chair a National Conference, whose relevance to the numerous issues that confront our dear country is so obvious to even the unborn baby.
“It is therefore a Conference that demands that a serious attention be given to it, of course, not necessarily because of my presence, but because of the intrinsic value of the Theme. Before I go on to appreciate the intrinsic importance of the Conference, let me pay tribute to the Otonti Nduka Foundation for Values Education for always showing its avant-garde role and relevance to issues that should define why Nigeria should take its rightful place in the comity of nations, particularly the global scheme of things that is always in a state of flux.
“Its concern for values education, for instance, is too relevant to all of us that it should be looked at a bit more beyond definition, which has been given as the teaching and learning of what is right and important in life. This essentially emphasizes the training of the mind, such that it is so learnt and it forms the basis of what the individual graduates with and to the world of work.”
“I will say that a related concept to values education is moral education, which some may even argue is one and the same thing. Moral education is defined as promoting in the individual a desire to gain the greatest possible knowledge and understanding of whatever kind [of knowledge] will help him make autonomous choices that are based on careful and informed thinking about the issues involved.”