By Adedara Oduguwa
If there is any message I will like to pass today, then the message would be: integrity mother of goodwill, father of immortality. Integrity is not having less or more of the purchasing power. It is not a state of controlling both human and material resources neither a state of affluence or influence (power or authority), far from it. According to Anderson (2012) success will come and go, but integrity is forever. This statement completes the witty saying that to have integrity is to live forever. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It is characterised by being rectitude, honourable, trustworthy, morally upright, sincere and noble. Further, men of integrity keep their promises, maintain societal values, and are protected by God and honoured by immortality. A man of integrity is unreasonably reliable and dependable. You can live for as long as you can, without integrity the future is dashed.
Biblically, Daniel, Joseph, Peter and Abraham were described as great men of integrity. They lived a life not only exemplary but honourable, rooted on moral grounds, positive, temptation resisted , determination to put others first, partner with progressive minds, value other’s opinion, thankful to God, accountable, incorporate other’s idea to give meaningful result and acknowledge other’s contributions.
On the 3rd of July, 2016, a case of integrity was reported in the media about Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim Ogbanago, a security guard who works at Nigeria’s top financial company, United Bank for Africa (UBA), has received recognition for returning a sum of $10,000 to the bank. On twitter that same day, several people called him names such as fool, the boy is too good, were (mad- man) and so on. In relative line, the CEO of the bank Mr Tony Elumelu wrote:
“When I heard about this story, I knew I had to meet the man who despite facing rising petrol & transportation prices and “tomato ebola” returned such a huge sum of money without recourse to himself.”
“It was a pleasant surprise to hear him tell this story and about how he came to be in the board room with us. Even more surprising was hearing him speak about his passion for governance and integrity in leadership.”
“Mohammed Ibrahim Ogbanago is an exemplary ambassador of the UBA spirit and it was fulfilling to meet and reward him for his conduct.” (Source Pulse,2016).
Consequently, at the 2017 UBA CEO Awards, Mohammed Ibrahim Ogbanago was given a cash prize of $5,000 by the Governor of Adamawa State; $10,000 by the Governor of Bauchi State; a promise of N5,000,000 by the Deputy Senate President, and this was topped off with an award of excellence by the bank. This made him to earn trust and recognition for himself, his family and his well wishers. Mr. Ogbanago is today richer than his HOD as a security officer. That is the reward of integrity. Ironically, for the past months, the Nigeria’s legislature, executive and judiciary have failed this same integrity test repeatedly. Just yesterday, an heroic welcome was given to an high profile international criminal and ex-convict, when he was conferred a Chieftaincy title of “Ezi-Oyi Anioma”, Meaning “a good friend of Anioma nation’ (Leadership, 2017).” This act is not only shameful but demeaning on our ethos and value system.
Integrity is often not celebrated in this part of the world. Dishonesty, deceitfulness, duplicity, untruthfulness and deception remain our pride. It is electrifying how many young Nigerians are prepared to steal from the national treasury if opportune in protest against yester-night generation who they claim mortgaged their destiny for worldly diadem. I want to tell you friends, two wrong does not make a right. Certainly, this older generation has failed us! We cannot afford to fail the coming generation. What we therefore need is determination, sacrifice, can do and faith in a fruitful effort. The future is not doleful but bright!
On daily basis, thought of my dream Nigeria continuously flash into my subconscious mind. A Nigeria where sale of generator-set is impossible. A Nigeria where the poor and the rich will seat together in equal parity. A Nigeria where meritocracy not democracy rules. A Nigeria where budget paddling is not attractive. A Nigeria where life is meaningful and abundant. A Nigeria where Nigerians are the most respected people of the World. A Nigeria where freedom of speech is priceless. A Nigeria where judiciary and legislature are not instrument in the hand of the executive. A Nigeria where education is freedom from mental slavery. A Nigeria where policemen and teachers are honoured and well paid. A Nigeria where integrity is all that matters. A Nigeria where mediocre (a Billionaire without pedigree) cannot be voted for as local government councilor. A Nigeria where power truly resides with the people. A Nigeria where soldiers are not life-abusers but its protector. A Nigeria where capital punishment is a reward for public theft and rehabilitation a reward for petty-stealing. A Nigeria where SMEs contribute 70% to the GDP and foreign exchange earnings. A Nigeria where a minute darkness due to electricity is not only impossible but a taboo. A Nigeria where British and American will come to work in other to earn a living. A Nigeria where N1 is equal to $400. A Nigeria where corrupt public officers enthroned their family name into eternal damnation from public offices. A Nigeria where public hospitals have over 200 Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and 20 patients to a medical doctor. A Nigeria where politicians do not tell us what they want to do during campaigns but what they do daily before it. A Nigeria where integrity not money wins elections. A Nigeria where neither APC nor PDP can survive as political party. A Nigeria where the youth are more important than the aged. A Nigeria where the road are free of potholes and dungeon holes. A Nigeria where there is optimum employment. A Nigeria where graduates are respected and employable. A Nigeria where the president do not selection INEC chairman, Inspector general of police, Antony General of the Federation, EFFC/ICPC chairmen and so on (to allow for true independence of these bodies). A Nigeria where food, health and education are subsidized for all. A Nigeria where social amenities are priority of our capital expenditure. A Nigeria where the president is truly for all and not for selected few. That is my Nigerian dream.
Did I hear ‘impossible?’ It is true integrity! I will define integrity as ‘audacity of purpose’. It is the ability to remain firm, strong, trustworthy and do only what is ‘right for the people’ not what is mandatory. Further, I see integrity as a path to eternal prosperity, triggered by passion and unreasonable faith in God and not man, to cut any finger disrupting collective progress and roast it in the prison of justice. It is the ability to stand outside the fence of norm, the confidence to say No! No!! No!!! To anomalies irrespective of who the culprits are. Integrity is a death warrant! The will to die physically for immortality! Integrity is sacrifice! The strength to give all to nobody but everybody! Integrity is contentment! High probabilistic tendency to say no to financial, emotional, physical, mental, academical, political and economical temptation. Integrity is not a state of perfection! But a path to it. Integrity is not power! But the route to affluence. If you want to live forever chose integrity!
It is sad that after approximately 57years of her independence, Nigeria remain a shadow of her reality. Family background contributes immensely to present societal loss of value. A child in his/her teen now thinks of owing a luxury car and not the future. The church talk only of offering and tithe (usually ill-gotten monies) forgetting salvation and corporate social responsibility (CSR), setting new scriptural standards. Schools have become name centers with teachers who are themselves pupils in developed economies. The nucleus home environment is characterized by mothers who curse their children anytime they break a plate. Children choose their bosom friends based on bohemia and delinquency statures. This frustration becomes multiplied when the society now writes wrong as right and right as wrong.
Where is the future? Becomes a rhetorical question only to be answered by INTEGRITY! Let’s ask ourselves, what do we gain from insincerity?