Exemplars of decency and dignity

Dignity

From the earliest time in history, humanity has been facing challenges. The Great Book gives a sad account about the state of humanity prior to the worldwide flood during the days of Noah. In the world of Noah, the level of sin and corruption among human population was staggering because people allegedly though, thought about doing evil all the time. In other words, the world of Noah was incredibly corrupt and pervaded. The situation was so bad that our Creator decided without any committee meeting to wipe from the face of the earth the human race He created. But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Creator. Noah and his family were spared from destruction as the polluted, unrighteous population of the world at the time disappeared from the earth. So, Noah and his family became our ancestors.

Some of our ancestors were role models whose values and beliefs are still worthy of emulation. They were consistent in building trust and credibility with integrity, honesty, loyalty and respect. For instance, in Nigeria, the Yoruba race speaks gracefully about the omoluabi when situation demands. The Omoluabi Concept is an adjectival Yoruba phrase which according to Wikipedia, has the words – “Omo + ti + Olu-iwa + bi.” In English, it “is a person of honour who believes in hard work, respect the rights of others, and gives the community in deeds and in action. Above all, an omoluabi is a person of integrity. I am convinced that all tribes in Nigeria have adjectival phrases for describing a person of integrity.

Some omoluabis have emerged and they must be celebrated. The omoluabis are Mrs Josephine Ugwu, a former cleaner at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, and Bashir Abubakar, an Assistant Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Services. Both Nigerians were decorated with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and other Related Offences Integrity Award by President Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) a few weeks ago. In line with best traditions, these two Nigerians if you permit me, are additions to the list of exemplars of decency and dignity in our country.

Report has it that Ugwu was honoured for returning a huge sum of money which she stumbled upon in the course of her cleaning assignment, and Abubakar, for rejecting a N150 million (one hundred and fifty million Naira) bribe offered to allow traffickers to import 40 containers of tramadol into the country. In order to boost the morale of Mrs Josephine Ugwu, an update to that report shows that a team of civil society activists arranged for her to have a new house awarded to her. I hope both recipients of the award will continue to demonstrate their leadership qualities as they march on in life.

Nigeria is blessed with good people in all walks of life who are doing great things and contributing to the development of humanity nationally and globally. These outstanding achievements must be harnessed for national development through rewards and recognition by those in authority.

One of the reasons for focusing on this worthwhile and commendable development is that something good can still come out of Nigeria despite the negative character of some people. These two honest Nigerians have proved some critics wrong that nothing good can come from Nigeria. In fact, Nigeria is blessed with good people in all walks of life who are doing great things and contributing to the development of humanity nationally and globally. These outstanding achievements must be harnessed for national development through rewards and recognition by those in authority. We must continue to celebrate Nigerians who shun corruption despite the decay in our value system.

How do we build a nation on a society that is morally deficient? A nation where it is difficult for reforms to take place. Once upon a time, there was a nation founded upon relatively sound ethics, integrity and values. PMB noted with concern the need to uplift the values of loyalty, honesty, trust and integrity in our public service while presenting the awards to the awardees. That Nigeria is not playing the leadership role expected of her in the African continent and international arena is partly due to the quality of leadership the country has mustered over the years at all levels in public and private sectors.

Regrettably, most politicians elected to serve at state and federal levels have ceaselessly govern the country with impunity and reckless immorality. Once elected into office, most politicians are always at risk of spending too much time imagining how much of material wealth they would acquire in office rather than strategically thinking about the security and wellbeing of those they govern. Who do we blame? The electorate is to blame for getting it wrong.

The good news however, is that as rotten as the society is today, our politicians and leaders of all political hues in the government can still turn around the political arena for good by introducing a noble pulpit from which encouraging homily can flow. We can still have a stellar pulpit from which workable actions, policies and strategies that are conterminous with national security flows.

When Nigeria’s economy was booming, the stock market was soaring and the unemployment rate was low, most of us felt rather content with life. But as soon as the wheels of the economy started coming off and cratered, most Nigerians lost focus and the good feelings we were experiencing deserted many of us. Most of us- leaders and followers- are responsible for the parlous state of our nation. Our level of patriotism is low and this has negatively affected the development of the country. As citizens we need to be more patriotic to the country.

Globally, politicians want to be in office for many reasons. Some want power. Others seek riches because they are in love with it. Many are driven by ideology or a desire to change the world. I align myself with views expressed by some experts that the only worthy motivation for leadership is a desire for servant hood. The true leader serves. They serve people, not themselves and their immediate families. And in doing so, will not be popular, and may not impress. If anyone wants to lead others but unwilling to serve people, they need to check their motives. To be a good leader you must first be a good follower. The best leaders know what it is like to follow. “Who would learn to lead must…. first of all, learn to obey,” according to Aristotle. We all need to make our country and the world a better place. Thank you!