Experts Identify Causes Of Incivility In Africa, Call For A Paradigm Shift

By Frank Oshanugor

A group of stakeholders cutting across various academic and professional spheres have identified some factors largely responsible for the high degree of incivility that permeates various African countries.

In a recent gathering that lasted two days (2nd/3rd May, 2024) in Abuja organised by Etiquette Africa and managed by Etienying Akpanusong, the landmark conference, under the theme “The effect of incivility on Africa’s development,” brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to address the critical issue of incivility in Africa having
recognised the negative impact on individuals, businesses, and the continent’s overall prosperity.

The discussants representing various sectors such as education, parenting and mentorship, leadership, and business, included former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Ambassador Usman Sarki, former permanent representative of Nigeria at the United Nations, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, Femi Adesina former presidential spokesman, Dr. Linus Okorie, Mrs. Eugenia Abu ace broadcaster and many others.

They all painted a concerning picture of declining civility across Africa and did not hesitate in identifying some factors responsible for the phenomenon.These factors include a noticeable shift in values which has brought pervasiveness of materialism, the influence of foreign cultures, and technology, particularly social media, as undermining traditional values, ethics, and etiquette.

Secondly, the panelists identified poor governance and ineffective leadership as significant factors. The absence of strong, ethical leadership and a lack of accountability within leadership structures foster a culture of incivility, they posited. They added that leaders who do not embody respect and ethical conduct set a poor example, perpetuating a cycle of disrespect.

The discussants who can best be described as experts in their rights recognized the breakdown of the family unit as a significant factor, arguing that people saw the decline of civility as a result of parents’ diminishing role in instilling values and social graces in their children.

They contended that without a strong foundation of values instilled within the family unit, the broader societal fabric suffers as the family represents the smallest unit of society.

Having noted some consequences of incivility which include deterioration in physical and mental health, hindering of economic growth, reputational damage to country amongst other consequences, the discussants, mindful of the urgency of addressing this critical issue, outlined a series of actionable recommendations, emphasising a multi-pronged approach.

One of the recommendations is the revitalisation of education so as to integrate values-based education and social etiquette into the formal curriculum.

They also harped on strengthening parenting and prioritising responsible social media management, intentional mentoring, and open communication within families.

The conference also recommended the fostering of a culture of accountability within institutions, where incivility is not tolerated and appropriate consequences are enforced.

The panelists among other things, also recommended the
strengthening of law enforcement and judicial systems to ensure effective enforcement of laws and regulations that promote civility and discourage anti-social behaviour.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

Leave a Reply