SQUANDERMANIA MENTALITY: THE ROOT CAUSE OF SOCIAL EVIL UDEKE CHARLES NDUBUISI POPE JOHNPAUL 11 MAJOR SEMINARY, AWKA [email protected] com PREAMBLE Nigeria as a nation is ravaged by many internal problems. It is no longer news even to the blind that things are not the way they should be in our society. Nigeria problem is hydra-headed. Many scholars have viewed it from the different perspective as corruption, problem of leadership, indiscipline, greediness, consumerism, et cetera. Squander mania mentality is not out of the list. The rate at which people spread dollars at occasions is quite embarrassing.
The history of Nigerians is that of a people in search of naira and the ostentatious show of wealth. Some people construe squandeermaniarism as a means of ascertaining themselves in the society. So, the more ostentatious you are, the more you are socially recognized and canonized. The root cause of social evil in our society is nothing but consumer consciousness. In bid to have more in order to spend extravagantly people often indulge in all kinds of ills like: kidnapping, bribery, drug addict, money laundry, stealing, armed robbery, gangsterism, corruption and embezzlement.
Squandermania consciousness has turned some of our leaders into caterpillars’ of common wealth. In fact the evil malice in us has been exalted to the point of genius in some of us. Moreover, in January 1987, the Anambra State government under the governorship of Captain Emeka Omeruah organized a crusade against squandermania. They so accurately deciphered the basis of indiscipline and underdevelopment in our nation as squandermania mentality. In this work we shall be looking at squandermania mentality as the root cause of our social evil and the possible remedy.
In order to better appreciate this topic, let us explicate the basic concept. CONCEPTUALIZATION OF TERMS. Squandermania mentality literally means conscious wasteful or useless spending on daily basis. According to Okolo (1994:9) it is that disposition in a people by which they conceive and judge things by their consumable value. On the whole the society becomes one dominated largely by acquisitive rather than productive instincts. ’ Thus, for him it is materialistic consumable outlook on things. Then, Prof. P.
N. Ejiofor (1986:3) viewed the term conspicuous consumption as ‘living above one’s resources and for the overall standard of living of the society for one’s inordinate self aggrandizement. ’ For him, it is spending unnecessarily. Here, squandermania mentality may be used interchangeably with consumer consciousness or conspicuous consumption. Based on this based backdrop, let us know to what extent squandermania mentality is the root cause of our social evil. SQUANDERMANIA MENTALITY IN NIGERIA: THE STORY SO FAR.
Today, in our towns and villages, people both rich and poor, indulge in consumer consciousness such as charging astronomically high bride prices, engaging in costly wedding ceremonies, pompous burial ceremonies, expensive chieftaincy title-taking, excessive feasting, excessive eating and drinking, and useless spending in luxurious cars and colossal village mansions. Prof. Ejiofor (1984:90) attempted to paint a picture of an aspect of conspicuous consumption as it pertains to our burial ceremonies. “First the corpse may be embalmed, and left in the mortuary for a period ranging from three days to two or three months.
During this time, a new building is set up, if the dead did not build one in his life time, but if he did, the house and the walls are renovated. ” In the same vein, pomp and pageantry go with weddings, birthday celebrations, title taking, chieftaincy installations, graduations, ordinations, and house warming ceremonies, etc. In fact, Nigerians are drunk with life of ostentation. We place undue emphasis in material social values as a way of life of a people. Thus material success and possession are highly valued in the social and cultural lives of our people.
Peace Pilgrim (1981:12) articulates it in the following terms, “in this materialistic age we have such a false criterion by which to measure success. We measure it in terms of material things. But happiness and inner peace do not lie in that direction. ” Nigeria is the paradigm example of classical consumer society. Okolo(1994:10) viewed squandermania as the foundation of all our problems. “It is the problem behind our problems. To ignore it in our attack of societal ills would be to pursue a phantom, attacking the disease with a proper diagnosis of its cause. ” We can talk of Nigeria problem without mentioning squandermania mentality.
That Nigeria is a consumer society is never an exaggeration, for it is manifested in all their activities. Our society is characterized by unproductive spending, wealth exhibitionism and social importance. Hence, prestige and power are mainly construed in terms of material wealth and possessions. As a consumer nation, it exhibit one sided apprehension of labour. That is in terms of immediate gain, instant wealth and material success. Sweat, hard work and personal sacrifice have been sacrificed at the altar of laziness, cheap labour, instant gain and consumerism.
Okolo(1994:11) posited that “people of consumer society generally manifest low enthusiasm or appreciation for high values such as patriotism, love of truth, honesty… To labour or sacrifice for these spiritual goods or think of them important is hardly worthwhile for them. ” In the educational sector, a lot of people read in order to obtain mere certificate, what is referred to as ‘certificate education. ’ They construe education in terms of its material relevance. Knowledge in the strict sense, for broadening ones horizon, understanding and conquering ones environment is not for them.
They seek for certificate education in order to gain affluence and wealth through influence and high positions in the society. They struggle in order to manifest supremacy in wealth and what it can buy. Success and social progress are defined by them in terms of material prosperity and acquisition. Russell (1975:38) in his own part described the situation thus, “but what typical modern man desires to get with it is more money, with a view to ostentation, splendour and the outshining of those who have hitherto been his equals. It is clear that the quest for instant wealth and material acquisition is the root cause of the societal ills. All that matters for Nigerian is naira accumulation, the means not withstanding. Consequently, it is no longer news that there is so much robbery, kidnapping, prostitution, human trafficking, embezzlement and all sorts of fraudulent practices in the nation. The hardship in the country notwithstanding, the syndrome for quick money and over night success is a pointer to squandermania mentality. The search for immediate wealth makes the Nigerian to hold tenaciously to power and authority.
Conspicuous consumption will lead us to nothing but a consumer nation. Whereby, we spend more than we produce, consequently leading to many inefficiency or disequilibrium in the economy. CONS OF CONSUMER CONSCIOUSNESS The cumulative effect of it will lead to enlargement of his tastes, a change in his life style, in his social values and outlook in life. The person will define his social importance in terms of wealth acquisition and display, then, the type of home he lives in, property acquired and social entertainment held.
So, the attitude of wasteful or unproductive spending and wealth exhibitionism will be high in the individual. Conspicuous consumption is one of the root causes of bribery and corruption, armed robbery, prostitution, smuggling, and drug trafficking. Faced by the huge financial demands which they can not meet by honest living, they land themselves in the aforementioned ills. Consumer consciousness channels all our resources from working to leisure and from investment to unnecessary consumption. Many a time offices and markets are closed to give the dead a so-called befitting burial.
The time we spent in long wake keeping ceremonies, marriage ceremonies, housing warning ceremonies, etc, is spent by the Whiteman in his library or laboratory researching on how to develop the machinery he will export later. The money we spend on those occasions is spent by him in taking a balanced diet and investing in meaningful businesses. It has destroyed the value system of our society. The people’s outlook on things is mainly from viewpoint of the consumable value and the material worth. In the developed countries, the most noble and masters are the researchers, the inventors, the statesmen, great philanthropists.
In our society the statusquo are mostly the number of cars, the type buildings, the rowdiness of parties, etc. It is not surprise today that many young people indulge in different foul game in order to make money quick. Squandermania mentality makes us to be more dependent on the industrialized nations. It discourages patronage of our native goods. It is not shocking that most of the drugs, food stuffs, scientific equipments and all sorts of manufactured and consumer good are not produced locally. This has stultifying effects on the creative and imaginative powers of the individual. By being dependent on other nations we enslave ourselves.
It makes Nigerian to be imitators instead of competitors with other nations. Since we end up in imitating and reproducing, we lack originality, self transcendence, creativity and self reliance. More so, it vitiates the development of education, science and technology. Today, young people construe education in terms of material gain. Whereby, they end up in ‘certificate education. ’ People are not concerned with the qualitative functional education, which will help them conquer and transform their environment. Instead are interested in certificate education which guarantees them position of influence in the society.
In fact, conspicuous consumption has adverse effect on moral, economic, developmental and political facets of the society. It reinforces wrong values, leads to exportation of wealth, encourages social vices, hampers productivity, and slows down the rate of economic development. We devote too much time in consuming than in producing. Since we have seen that the gestalt of our problem is squandermania in outlook, then, what shall we do! PANACEA What Nigerian need is a new awareness of self, a novel sense of dignity and altogether new life and value system. This new ideology should make value to be more qualitatively rather than to have more.
That is to live more qualitative life instead of quantitative life. Education is vital instrument through which these values can be inculcated. Nigeria needs to imbibe the value of self-discipline. He must be ready to restrain his ungodly desires, goals and ambitious which he generally views in materialist terms. In quest to have more, display more, enjoy more, the Nigerian has lost sense of self discipline in quest for naira and what it can purchase. Thus, it through self discipline, the nation can manage her resources judiciously. Our society should cultivate the spirit of working for the universal good.
For no society of human beings is possible without what binds them together, what they strive after together. Thus, common good is the good of the members of the society. If, we think of those things which make up the society as a whole, squandermanianism will be a forgotten issue. Management of our resources, time and talents well is a necessary condition. Foolish people waste their money, whilst wise people invest their money and are called investors. In order to shun squandermania mentality the Nigerian must cultivate pragmatic spirit. This imbues him with the mind to discover or invent and to be creative.
This is attitude of sacrifice, self-dedication and labour. For consumer mentality radically weakens the will and people to put pleasure before business, sweet before sweat. More so, let us spend less time and money in celebrations, so as to have more money for the investment and time for working. It is by patronizing our locally made goods, can we encourage our local industries. CONCLUSION It is high time we admit that there is more to life than money, therefore, should focus not just on money wasting, but on general well-being.
Studies have shown that those who are high in materialistic orientations are lower in levels of life satisfaction. Squandermania is a public enemy that should be stamped out of our society. It fails to satisfy men whose nature clamours for higher, more lasting values. We should aim at minimizing the traditional pursuit of wealth, conspicuous consumption and the acquisition of possessions and the attainment of status. Let us aspire to be more rather than to possess more. May all hands be on deck in order to bring to an end the inflicted wound of wasteful living.