Events in our polity especially since 1999, have forced us to give a serious thought on the meaning of the word ‘Integirty’. Dictionary definitions had been sought, all pointing in the same direction. For instance, Google dictionary defines ‘Integrity’ as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”; that is to say, “a gentleman of complete integrity”. It further states that ‘Integrity’ means “the state of being whole and undivided; upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”.
Similarly, the Random House Dictionary, defines ‘Integrity’ as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty; the state of being whole, entire or undiminished; a sound, unimpaired or perfect condition”. It went further to stress that ‘Integrity’ means “following your moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances, even if no one is watching you”.
Does Integrity actually exist in the lexicon of our political parties and on the blueprint of our leaders? A Capital NO! Our political leaders never failed to disappoint us. They only “mouth” integrity. It has no meaning to them.
Our political leaders violate all known rules and norms. They rig elections; they patronize and promote hired killers; they engage in unbridled stealing of public fund, to the extent that some of them stash away money they can’t have traces to; they corrupt our financial system; corrupt the judiciary, and have made it a laughing stock.
Due to lack of integrity, our judiciary is gradually promoting self-help than recourse to the rule of law. They do this through incredible and unimaginable judgments! Getting our justice system to make pronouncements that looks at the dress or shoes worn by a judge, rather than the subject matter of litigation, forcing innocent litigants to experience epilepsy, cannot be worse than anything else.
For of lack of integrity, our university vice-chancellors and their colleague professors have been reduced to worse than kindergarten pupil collating election result. They look for lantern, extra light; ruler, extra ruler; eye glasses, even binoculars, making a mince meat of their rank and certificates. As at now, our election results are a mockery and truly lack integrity, and the courts have not helped matters.
Almost every public institution reeks of stupendous level of corruption, all because our political class decided to remove integrity from their lexicon. Even public sector institutions are not spared of this orgy of lack of integrity. Contracts are executed in bits and pieces to the extent that projects that took the colonial masters few months to fully execute, take our modern-day leaders decades of steady budgetary allocation to renovate or upgrade, yet with no discernible progress after spending so much on such projects. Instances of our road network, railway, refinery contract, energy contract, ports and shipping contract, aviation, and worse of all, contract in our educational institutions speak volumes.
Fleecing our common wealth abroad had become a routine, bringing shame to the innocent nationals, making us not just a laughing stock, but getting our citizenry subjected to unprintable kinds of maltreatment abroad.
Our security systems have been so terribly basterdised that they wreak of stupefying orgy or corruption. Activities of our security agencies are bereft of integrity: recruitment, promotion, posting, operation, and even office administration. Haba! What is the problem with us?
It is not enough to vocalize integrity. Integrity is expressed in action; it is never ‘mouthed’. It expresses itself; it walks alive on its own without support; it is professed in action; it needs no prodding. When people in authority adumbrate recourse to integrity, the public immediately knows that integrity is several kilometers away from them. You don’t need to market integrity. It lives!
When will integrity arrive the Nigeria shores? Of the three Arms of Government, which of them expresses integrity? Surprised the Code of Conduct Bureau, Federal Character Commission, agencies set up to promote integrity, clearly lack the virtues of integrity, even from its staffing mode? Even in other agencies, there are problems with their structure. And so, question is: can the blind successfully lead another person along the speed lane?
According to experts: “Integrity is about having high level of honesty. When someone takes responsibility for their actions, you know that they are an honest person. People with integrity choose to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. Ten qualities of integrity were listed including: putting others’ needs above their own; such people are only interested in doing the right thing. Equally, someone with integrity offers to help others in need. Seth Meyers says that “volunteer work is a great place to find people who have integrity. People with true integrity have no qualms offering their time to help people in need”.
Also, integrity is giving others the benefit of the doubt. Seth Meyers stresses that “someone with integrity doesn’t jump to conclusions. They always give others the chance to explain themselves”.
Such persons always chose honesty in all things (including party primary and general electoral processes). “Little white lies can be tempting, but someone with true integrity doesn’t give in to this particular impulse”. A man of integrity “gives respect to everyone they meet” no matter the status of the person at the other end. He or she also always manifests humility; make no bones admitting they are wrong and always show up to an obligation.
The AUTHORITY is desirous that our political leaders manifest real attributes of integrity. It remains the only path to peace and progress, the manifest letters of the motto of our country. Our lack of integrity have cost us so much and time is no longer available to continue to live in denial. We need rapid transformation and time to do so in now.