• According to the Chamber’s Twentieth century Dictionary, Ethics is the Science of morals, that branch of philosophy which is concerned with human character and conduct.
  • Ethics is, therefore, centred on the principles of behaviour conduct, action and utterances at both private and public levels.
  • As to what ethics ought to be, it is vividly captured in the words of A. A. Gwandu, when he noted the following:

    national ethics and indiscipline
It is observed that if we act from grounds of the intrinsic goodness of an action, the necessity in this case is ethical; in other words, if we do any thing not simply because we enjoy doing it, but rather because we believe it ought to be done, then our action is ethical. Ethics then concerns itself with the intrinsic quality of actions. In other words, it concerns itself solely with disposition, it deals with the topic of good and ‘bad’, ‘right and ‘wrong’.
Looking at ethics from geographical perspectives, it is defined as that aspect of a country’s Constitution, which teaches citizens how they ought to behave in their daily life.
Thus, National ethics simply means a set of conduct and behaviours expected of every citizen, the breach of which attracts punishment. National ethics is defined by Bello (1995) as a system of morals, rules and behaviour which every community in a country is bound to abide by and a breach of such rules usually attracts punishment. National ethics is stated in the constitution of a nation to guide the behaviour and conduct of citizens in their places of work. It serves as a means to establishment of law and order and attainment of meaningful development in a country. The present Constitution of Nigeria states the national ethics to comprise the following: Discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance and patriotism.
By discipline the Constitution means Nigerians should try not to be corrupt, disobedient to laws or embezzle government’s funds when they found themselves in a position of leadership. Citizens are expected to be disciplined by being self-control and associating themselves with people of good character.
By integrity the Constitution states that Nigerians should try to be firm and honest in all their activities. They should not allow others to drag them into illegal and dishonest activities.
Dignity of labour entails that Nigerians should be proud of the work they do irrespective of its nature provided it is legal. It also means labour should be rewarded accordingly. That is, we should have respect for those who work for us.
By social justice the Constitution implies that Nigerians irrespective of where they come from should be treated fairly and rightly. That is, they should be given equal opportunities in terms of access to justice, employment, education, etc. This could help to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor to the barest minimum.
Religious tolerance simply means that Nigerians should learn to stay together without violating each other’s right in attempt to practice religion. That is, they should learn to believe that the religion of every person is important to him. Therefore, every Nigerian should consider the religion of another Nigerian important to the believer. That is, we should learn to believe that, much as we value our religions other people, too, value their religion no matter the pattern of worship.
By self reliance the Constitution means that Nigerians should be able to feed themselves without looking for others to support them. That is, Nigerians should find legal means by which they can feed, cloth and shelter themselves. It also means government should direct all Nigerians to work hard towards making Nigeria a great nation where we produce what we eat. This is in line with the Obasanjo’s poverty alleviation programme where Nigerians are encouraged to have means of living.
By patriotism the Constitution implies that every Nigerian must give his/her unflinching support to the government of this country in all occasion. It also implies we should have the love for Nigeria in all our activities.

The Need for National Ethics

The national ethics are sign posts of growth and development of an individual as well as the country. The need for National ethics arise because they provided the following:
Development of the country, since the funds would be judiciously managed instead of being embezzled and this invariable help develop the citizens.
  • Bring citizens closely together since they behave in the same way and aim toward the same goal.
  • Equality among the citizens because the rich and the poor have the same approach of life.
  • Eradication of religious riot because both religions would be able to understand and accommodate each other.
  • Make a citizen to be proud of his country.
  • Make individual to be a good citizen and a good ambassador of his country and;
  • Ensure   good   governance  because   those   in government would not like to be found wanting in the discharge of their duty in order to avoid punishment.



The issues of the ethics and disciplines in society are the study of the problems of peace, order and stability. No form of social grouping can be maintained without the solid foundation of ethic and discipline. They are derived from the normative and value systems of society. They enhance group dynamism, social cohesive and solidarity among members.
Let us consider the above in the way we live and grow in different groups/units such as home, school, market places, working environment, mosques and churches. Why are we not in a state of disorder, conflicts and instability? It is because from these social units, we learn to share and respect common values, norms, goals and aspiration based on daily interaction and relationships. This enable us to share common set of meanings and symbols, together with the feeling of unity, solidarity and a system of mutual obligations to group.
Why is there a need for discipline in society? Discipline is very essential to society because it serves important functions. It makes society able to avoid complex situations of chaos, instability, unrest and other forms of violence. It provides positive orientation to members and provides a means of collective mobilization for societal development. Discipline makes it possible to predict individual and group behaviour under different situations. It also helps society to check activities of deviants and other law-breakers in society. In general ethics and discipline have the advantage of ensuring proper and effective functioning of the individual within a definite and defined societal goals and aims.

What is Discipline and Indiscipline?

Discipline can be generally defined as a set of rules for conduct. It is acknowledged in every society. Its character is defined by different social and cultural contexts and time dimension. It is moralistic and ethical.
Discipline also refers to training, especially of the mind and character to produce self control, and habits of obedience (Horby et al 1995). In sociological terms, disciplined person is therefore, a well-socialized individual. The above is made possible/ impossible, successful/unsuccessful through the process of socialization. According to Paul B. Horton and Hunt, socialization is the process whereby an individual internalizes the norms of the group so that a distinct “self” emerges, that is unique to this individual and conscious of social rules and regulations.
Indiscipline is the opposite of discipline. It consists of perverse or debase activities. It means lack of discipline or the growing of or increase in indiscipline over time. In Nigeria, activities that are considered as indiscipline include; Rigging and other forms of electoral malpractices, succession bids by politicians, bribery corruption and perversion of the administration of justice, flamboyant demonstration of individual’s materialistic possession in the midst of social poverty, forgery, drug abuse, child abuse, child and female trafficking, financial misappropriation, all forms of dubious deals like advance payment/fee fraud and (149) activities.
national indiscipline

Forms of Indiscipline

The causes of indiscipline are as varied as the types of indiscipline that we have. These can be categoried under five distinct areas ortypologies:-
1.      Political Indiscipline: this means any form of pervasion of the political process in general or electoral process in particular. Examples are rigging, bungled registration exercise or failure to conduct elections where and when it is supposed to, use of a touts to manipulate election, etc.
2.         Economic indiscipline:   This involves the use of and manipulation of institutional regulations by those in position of authority to hasten or shorten organizational procedures for their personal benefits, for friends and associates.   Example   are  manipulations  of foreign, exchange, award of contract and any use of one’s official position forprofitmotive.
3.         Bureaucratic Indiscipline: This forms the most popular form of indiscipline, Generally, it means the use of any illegitimate governmental process in the conduct of public office. Examples are bribery and corruption, lack of probity and accountability.
4.       Judicial Indiscipline: This means any form of pervasion of the administration of justice and equity in society. For example “justice delayed is justice denied”, failure to apply the rule of law and what it stipulates in society and on every citizen.
5.      Moral Indiscipline/Immorality: All forms of moral depravity on the part of the individual or society are indiscipline. Despite socio-cultural differences among societies and nations every society aspire to maintain effective ethical and moral standards, values and judgment. Examples of immorality are exploitation of man by man, the powerless poor by the powerful rich, acquisition of women or their property by force, display of affluence in the midst of social poverty.

Causes of Indiscipline:

These forms of indiscipline can also be grouped to roughly correspond with the causes or factors of indiscipline. However, there are some factors which cut across all types, or are shared by two or more types. These are as follows:-
  • Political Causes

  1. Use of wealth to “buy” political power or to occupy formal or    informal position of political influence.
  2. The  conversion of political position to position  of acquisition of economic resources, in order to replenish spent wealth.
  3. Great difficulties in setting up and financing political parties
  4. Electoral malpractices and rigging. This include the use of unregistered and under registered and underage voters, multiple voting. Disenfranchisement of individuals and entire communities by under supply of electoral materials or absence of polling booths. Inflating number of votes and stuffing ballot boxes with casted ballot papers.
  • Economic Causes:

The central factor here is the conditions of great iniquities in the distribution of wealth.

  1. The existence of a materialistic and corrupt mode of production and economy.
  2. Unemployment and underemployment.
  3. Corruption of leaders,   which  lead  to  unequal allocation of resources and misappropriation


  • Bureaucratic Causes:

    The basic causative factor, here is that, bureaucrat and public office holders generally see their position as a primary means of gaining access to wealth. Thus, such officers device various means of achieving their goals as for example in Robert Merton’s theory of social structure and anomie. Specific causes include:

  1. Job  insecurity  as  found  in  retrenchments,   lay-offs, dismissal, etc.
  2. Poor or lack of retirement benefits. The experience of pensioners in Nigeria is very sad indeed.
  3. Corruption of leadership.
  4. Inflation and general high cost of living.
  5. Greed and selfishness of the individual persons.
  • Judicial Causes:

Judicial Indiscipline mainly result from conflicts between changing moral codes in society. This is more peculiar with under developed societies that consist of the traditional and the modern ways of life; existing side by side. Specific causes include:

  1. Time lag existing between new regulations and their enforcement
  2. Loopholes that are discovered in our exiting laws and rules, which leave room for manometer.
  • Immorality:
    This in itself is a form of indiscipline. The Bstive factors however differ. They range from individual to societal moral decadence, like greediness to religious factors and demonstrative effects of external influence like the contemporary means of media /Print and electronic communication, peers, neighbourhoods and others. Specific causes include:
  1. Acceptance and respect of wealth and the wealthy without an examination of the means by which such wealth was acquired. This makes people to get involved in so many atrocious acts to get wealth.
  2. Refusal to follow the tenets of religions. For example Islam  has   social justice   system  of Zakat  which redistributes wealth in society.
  3. Demonstrative effect of indiscipline in western media.
  4. Individual exploitative tendencies like greed, selfishness.
  5. Injustice and deprivation of a corrupt social system.

see also: Does the Qur’an endorse terrorism?

Measures to Control Indiscipline

  1. Participation of the Citizens:- A disciplined citizenry will surely participate in the control of indiscipline in their society. This is a duty of each and every citizen in any society such duties can be performed in a number of ways i.e by paying out taxes, by refusing to involve ourselves in corrupt or indisciplined activities and practices. It is also our duty to expose any act of indiscipline at societal units of interaction i.e at home, school or work. A citizen should be hardworking, patriotic, responsible and always ready to defend his/her country at all times. A citizen should accept and cooperates with those leaders that tend to unite them and transcend religious, cultural and ethnic differences. A citizen should liase with the police in detecting and reporting deviancy and other social problems in society. Such information should be protected and rewarded. If the police and the public relations is more cordial, people will be willing to help in detecting and curtailing indiscipline in society.
  2. Eradication of Poverty: According to a popular adage ‘”poverty is the root cause of all evils” This becomes more of a problem when it exists side by side with AFFLUENCE. It is the duty of the state to ensure that a greater percentage of its citizenry live above poverty line. Poverty eradication can be done through various means. Budgetary measures which ensures full employment for all, control resources effectively and ensure a sound productive base for the economy. These will help greatly. Fiscal and monetary measures could also be geared towards control of inflation and currency stabilization. Once poverty can be eradicated, the citizenry will be more disciplined, honest and hard working.
  3. Exemplary Leadership:   Leadership by example is the best form  of leadership.   Once  a  leader  with  leadership  qualities implements such qualities on his person, he easily and simply transmits them to the followership. As such, an undisciplined leader i.e corrupt or fraudulent or morally bankrupt will definitely produce a similar fellowership. A disciplined leadership will not aggravate inequalities in society. Rather, he will cultivate a situation whereby everybody is given equal  opportunities in life. A disciplined leadership will neither accept nor condone indiscipline in all aspects of social life. In addition, he should be able to eschew all vices in private and public life including corruption, dishonesty, electoral malpractice like self-succession, ethnic and religious bigotry.
  4. Social Legal Responses Measures:  As Indiscipline is not 0 clearly defined crime in the judicial sense, but a form of deviation from modes and ethic of society, solutions are mainly left to the family and community. As such solutions include: Ensuring stability in the family, adequate/proper socialization, proper adherence to religious  tenets,  parental  and  peer  group  supervisions     and controlling the influence of mass media. Our past experience in Nigeria however, has showed that such appeal to religious and traditional morality have for long ceased to function as agents of ensuring discipline. This is because they woe not backed by concrete and sustainable programmes and actions on the part of the government to eradicate poverty and ensure self-discipline on the part of the citizenry. In addition, disciplinary bodies established by government have no impact as almost no body is brought to book. This renders attempts by government to controls indiscipline insignificant.
  5. Nigeria code of conduct tribunal

    Code of Conduct Bureau/Tribunal: The Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979 Constitution, in its sections 15-20 made provision for a Code of Conduct Bureau and a Code Conduct Tribunals. This is an important step towards controlling corruption and indiscipline by making all public officers (from the president, down wards) to declare their personal asserts before their appointment in office or after leaving office. The Code of Conduct Bureau is a body with nine (9) members including a chairman. It’s responsibilities include; to receive declaration by public officer, to retain custody of such declarations, to examine such declaration and to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the code and to receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of this code and to refer such cases to the Code of Conduct Tribunal where necessary.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal is established by the President and headed by a chairman. The tribunal has the power to try and punish all officers found guilty of contravening any of he provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau. Punishment range from vacation of an officer’s office, seizure and forfeiture to the state of any property acquired in abuse of or corruption of office. If the Bureau and Tribunal are to effectively achieve their purpose, there is need to appoint corrupt free officials that will enforce its regulations and try any defaulter without fear or favour. The success of this will in turn depend on exemplary leadership.


National Ethics are considered to be set of conduct and behaviours expected of every citizen, the breach of which is assumed to attract punishment. The Constitution of Nigeria, therefore considers the national ethics of Nigeria to be discipline, integrity, Higrity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance and patriotism. National ethics are significant for Nigeria as a nation because they assist in the following aspects. Development of a nation; unity of nation; equality among the citizens; eradication of religious riot; patriotism, nationalism and governance.
Discipline is not only historically determined but also part of man’s social nature. Similarly, indiscipline is socially determined and occurs when there is a violation of defined social order. Hence, indiscipline is not a personality trait that is inherent among some group and absent in others. Prevalent social, economic and political conditions of society can breed discipline or indiscipline.
There are various causes of indiscipline and likewise their solutions. As such any control measure taken for indisciplinary behaviour must be appropriate to the cause in order to be effective.
Primarily the major causative factor of indiscipline centres around the issue of equity and social justice in relation to resources allocation. If it is positive discipline would be installed, if negative indiscipline would be installed. No other means, such as Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) or IMF prescriptions can instill discipline in society.
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Ake, C. (1981): A Political Economy of Africa, Longman, Nigeria Limited
Bello A. M. (1995): Citizenship Education for NCE Students, ABU Press, Zaria
Federal Government of Nigeria, (1979): The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. New Nigerian Newspapers Ltd, Commercial Service Division, Kaduna,
Femi, O. (1986): (ed): Corruption in Development Ibadan University Press.
Gwandu, A. A, (1998): “Islamic Ethics and Morality as Solution to Human Problems,” The Beanu Journal of Arts and Science. Vol. 3 Sokoto Research and Publication Committee, Halliru Binge College of Arts and Science, Sokoto.
Horby, A. S. (1995): Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (ed) by Jonathan Crowther, Oxford University Press N. K.
Horton, P. B. and Hunt, L. C (1984): Introduction to Sociology, Mcgraw Hill Book Company, Singapore.
Oyeneye, O. Y. et al (ed): (1993): Nigerian Culture and Citizenship Education Maokus Publishers, Lagos.

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