Opinion: Personal integrity is the solution to Nigeria’s problems

by Anjola Ogunsanwo

“Integrity” Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Well, today, I proffer integrity as a solution to all the challenges we are facing and yet to face in Nigeria. Socio-economic challenges have been a major setback to this country’s development. When we as Nigerians consciously take steps to inculcate this virtue in ourselves, our country will definitely be a better one.

When I saw my classmates exchange their exam sheets, I wiped the tears that rolled down my almost red cheeks. I wept not because I had just seen my friends cheat, I wept because these were the same students who had earlier preached in class, insulting men who were occupying political offices for carting away a larger portion of our beloved national cake; I wept for the ignorance of my friends.

It is funny how we all point our fingers at those in public positions for doing an ‘improved’ version of what we, ourselves, constantly do. What many of us fail to realize is the true meaning of integrity. Integrity is something that’s embedded in us all and so, has no need of rules. I’d describe it as a sort of class work that is being graded by our conscience; and truthfully, integrity begins early in life with a five year old being made to understand why he shouldn’t steal meat from his mum’s pot, or being made to understand why he shouldn’t deny the fact that he had stolen this meat. It begins with my classmate understanding that her integrity should be questioned after she swapped her answer sheets for her friend’s.

This country has been one helpless victim of socio-economic and political challenges. We have all struggled with some of these challenges at some point in our lives. But many of us have done nothing but complain, always pointing fingers but never proffering solutions

Well, today, I proffer integrity as a solution to all the challenges we are facing and yet to face in Nigeria. Socio-economic challenges have been a major setback to this country’s development. When we as Nigerians consciously take steps to inculcate this virtue in ourselves, our country will definitely be a better one.

Just like yesterday, I remember entering a government office, a dilapidated one; the unkempt corridor welcomed me to a cold receptionist who had a food warmer right in from of her, while she was on duty. She looked skinny; sick skinny. I thought that would have made her welcoming but I was wrong. As she raised her make-up to her face I couldn’t help but begin to feel sorry for whatever sickness she had been going through; if she was. I thought to myself, if she was well paid she would be in the hospital instead of sitting down in the office collecting Egunje (bribe) from visitors who wanted to see her boss.

If there’s integrity, the civil service officer, would pay that sick receptionist I met at the office, to treat the virus that was haunting her, rather than transferring the money into his new wife’s account.  If there was integrity, that receptionist would not have broken her wedding vows by sleeping with Musa, the gateman last week just for a few notes of naira.

Corruption is a result of the lack of integrity and it is eating deep into our pride and dignity as a nation. Everybody talks about how they are going to make a change when they get ‘there’ but as soon as they get there, the will to make the change disappears and life goes on as usual.

Eric Thomas once said “you can’t just keep talking about it; you have to be about it”. Change begins now, take a shot for change, and take a shot for integrity.

 

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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