It has become common place in Nigeria today that social events now takes place from Mondays to Sundays. The nature and depth of these celebrations seems to suggest we never had social occasions in the past.
Yes, we have had celebrations in the past but it was not done in a leisure mindset that has now become a culture. For a country that is growing in poverty and is stagnant in development, it is so sad to see much focus placed on numerous social occasions everyday with celebrants and their guest clad out in uniforms, and a wide range of expensive souvenirs, food, and drinks produced and given out.
As part of this deeply rooted culture, our leaders (business, corporate & political) have long departed from the place of governance and are now globetrotting across the nation and the globe attending one social occasion or another. We recently lost one of our governors and a former NSA on a return trip to such occasion and many others have had near misses. Bu t this culture has in no way declined.
Am I against celebrations? Absolutely not, but what I am highlighting here is a mindset that has become a culture (a way of life) that is inhibiting nation-building in Nigeria.
So, how is it inhibiting nation-building?
Poor Work Ethics: One of biggest indicators of our leisure culture is our attitude to work. Most Nigerians (irrespective of workplace) have a very poor work ethics and primarily because we exert more energy (our thoughts, words and actions) planning and participating in a social event. If not that, we are spending most of our time on social media undertaking activities that are totally social, like spending time on Facebook viewing photos of a social function or uploading our own photos taken at a social function. Even most of our leisure industry practitioners (musicians, comedians, caterers, event organisers) are not exempted from the poor work ethics.
Dislike for serious business & private discussions: Connected to our poor work ethics is our dislike for serious discussions. As a result, we seem unable to conduct discussions or deliberations without disputes and the hauling of insults at each other. We seem only able to sit amicably together in a social setting because we don’t have to stress our brains.
Little or no time invested into research: The result of our poor work ethics and dislike for serious discussions or deliberations is the lack of adequate time dedicated to research. To be honest, most Nigerians do not undertake any form of research before taking a critical decision in their personal and public life. Research is hardwork and requires a lot of time but these are qualities in short supply because we operate under the leisure culture. But our lack of research is reflecting in the various problems we face daily in our individual and national lives.
Honour without work: The need to have celebrations has made many in our society to take shortcuts that will create the reason(s) for the celebration. So, many claim chieftaincy titles that is not their entitlement; many claim miraculous breakthroughs or turnaround that are non-existent; many steal government money or contract funds to build mansions and buy exotic cars; some steal to execute community projects, etc. The list is endless but the main worry is that we no longer value the principle of working hard and for long, before we can reap the benefits.
Companies are investing more in Leisure than in other areas: In line with the culture of the people, the large companies are now spending millions of dollars on leisure and little is spent on sectors such as education, healthcare, social care, research, etc. Of course, that is where the people are focused on and so, these companies must react accordingly to maximise profits.
Citizens are also investing more in Leisure than in other areas: The citizens, like the companies, are spending more in leisure than in personal & community development. It is a common feature to see citizens in employment or self-employed & even several unemployed, spend hundreds of thousands of naira on clothings & accessories for parties, expensive drinks (including wine, champagne and spirits), throwing parties and other social events. Interestingly, most will claim not to have money to give to good causes and ideas that will lead to a better society for all of our coming generations.
What then must we do?
We must put leisure in its rightfully place, through our words, thoughts and actions. By its definition, leisure means free time or the use of free time for enjoyment. Therefore, it must be something we do after a hard days or months’ work. Not before or during work.
At this critical phase of our development, much work is required to build a developed nation and it can never be the task of our government alone because even developed nations rely mainly on the initiatives of the people to sustain development. This means, we must cut back on our free time in order to dedicate more time to research that will enable the generation and implementation of ideas that will build our nation.
Yes, we must develop the leisure industry because it is a means of livelihood and a good employer of labour but we must also seek an improved work ethics within the sector and in the wider society.
It is also essential that we the citizens and the corporate organisations must cut back on the money invested into leisure. Of course, most companies will only cut back when they see Nigerians focus less on leisure but we seek some companies to engineer the new culture for the sake of nation-building.
But the best way to counter this culture is for us to shift focus from ourselves and focus on our nation, recognising that our true development is tied to the development of our nation. With this mindset, we would realise we have a nation that is nowhere near a celebratory state. But also, we will realise that we’ve got much work to do to get her to a developed state.
Would you make that change for the sake of the coming generations?