The Country Director for Accountability Lab Nigeria, Friday Odeh has revealed that finding people of integrity has become increasingly difficult these days in Nigeria, adding that despite the widespread corruption, some Nigerians are daily standing up against the vice.
He identified poor moral values as one of the reasons integrity is lacking amongst Nigerians.
Odeh, who was speaking on the topic, “Imbibing Character and Culture of Integrity in Our Public and Private Lives as Nigerians”, made the assertions Wednesday during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, in Abuja.
In focus during the program was the conduct of a Nigerian, Mr Geory Etuk, security personnel at the Lagos airport who found and returned a bag containing N2.35 million.
Another incident involved a Federal Road Safety Corps official who found and returned to the family of an accident victim the sum of N716,000 in Anambra state.
Odeh said honest people are fewer in number and lamented that the country is hastily losing its cultures and values due to a lack of integrity. He noted that people who display integrity are vilified publicly by fellow citizens, and that has consequently made finding citizens of integrity a difficult task.
“Just like Keith Marley who returned bitcoin worth millions of naira, when he did that single act of integrity, if you know the backlash he received in the Nigerian social media space, it wasn’t easy, and that’s why I am saying it’s now difficult for us to see people of integrity in our country.
“if you look at most Government Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), and look at their mission and vision statement, they have integrity as a watchword in almost all of them but you hardly find MDAs which are accountable. Meaning, you could claim integrity as your watchword but you don’t even live up to it.”
Odeh stressed that the different institutions of government have a critical role to play in building a society of integrity, adding that the poor governance and standards set by politicians and political leaders are eroding the integrity of the ordinary Nigerian.
His words: “Most of the governors have secured themselves to earn over three hundred percent of pension when they leave office, some of them allocated to themselves one choice house in Lagos, Abuja or any other state. They have those things secured for themselves for use when they are out of office. But nobody looks at what happens to the common Nigerian, these are standards that have been set, that have eroded the integrity of citizens over the years.
“I have always believed in a top-down approach for addressing some of these issues,” He stated.
On her part, Project Controller, Integrity Organization, Toyin Nwiido said societal values and a sense of survival are driving a lot of Nigerians into corrupt acts.
While alluding that more Nigerians would be persons of integrity if the leaders displayed integrity, Nwiido maintained that individual or family values are key to building a nation of people of integrity and emphasized the need for civil society organizations to team up and build a network of persons of integrity.
“Can we begin to have collective actions across various sectors, building networks around people that stand up for their values, people that are ready to do the right thing without supervision?
“So wherever you find yourself, what network are you in because there is a force with numbers and then when these numbers increase the government at the end of the day begin to put down their ears to say, what are these people saying,” Nwiido stated.
While, the Information Technology Officer, Integrity Organisation, Marho Atumu said lack of consequence for corrupt acts is responsible for the increase in the number of Nigerians engaging in one wrongdoing or the other.
Atumu noted that the vast majority of Nigerians were hitherto people of good morals and culture but have negatively evolved now. “Our culture has evolved right now and integrity is no longer as important to most people right now as it used to be.
“We have people who would go into the public office, steal public funds and when they eventually get caught by the anti-corruption agencies, people from the villages who are supposed to be upholding the culture of integrity and honesty would be the same that would come and protest on their behalf that anti-graft agencies should let their son or their daughter go,” Atumu lamented.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria