In every society, there are good people as well as bad people. Nigeria as a country is not an exception in this matter as there are people – good and bad, dead and alive who cut across all fields of human endeavors.
When an individual is said to have integrity, it means that the person allows the good moral principles in society to guide his/her actions, characters, and behaviors. Therefore, integrity can be defined as the display of honesty and high moral principles in one’s actions, characters, and behaviors. Integrity covers aspects of human interaction such as displaying honesty to one another, acting based on societal rules and regulations, and identifying what is bad and morally wrong.
For a better understanding of what integrity is all about, there are examples of acts or behaviors that can be considered acts of integrity. For instance, an individual who always says things as they are without fear or favour is said to have integrity. Also, an individual who is entrusted with an affair or wealth and manages it well has integrity. A person who also performs his/her duty with all honesty possesses integrity. In a country, a good citizen must obey the laws of the land. When this happens, such a citizen is considered a person of integrity. An individual does what he/she feels is morally right whether other people are present or not. It is clear from the above explanation that integrity is a quality that involves the potential to make any society a better place to live in. What needs to be done to better society is for people to imbibe the spirit of integrity and be seen to show integrity in their actions and behaviors.
Below are examples of some people of integrity who are either dead or alive in Nigeria.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo
Chief Obafemi Awolowo was one of the best brains Nigeria had. He was a journalist, lawyer, politician, and elder statesman. He was the premier of the former Western region and he led the region so well that he brought out the best in the region politically, socially, educationally, and economically. When he died, a public figure remarked that Chief Awolowo was the best president Nigeria ever had. The statement showed that he was a person of integrity.
Sir Abubakah Tafawa Balewa
Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was a Nigerian politician and the only Prime Minister of an independent Nigeria. Throughout his life, Tafawa Balewa played a leading role in national policymaking. In the 1950s, he participated with great skill in the discussions on constitutional reform that ultimately led to independence.
Professor Wole Soyinka
He is a literary critic and playwright of International repute. He won a Nobel Prize for Literature and is well-known all over the world. He is a sincere Nigerian who has contributed immensely and positively to the image of the country abroad. He was a former Chairman, of the Federal Road Safety Commission and he brought many positive changes to the traffic regulation commission. He has also been involved in struggles to ensure good governance in Nigeria. He is well-known internationally for his integrity and advocacy for justice and good governance.
Alhaji Ahmadu Bello
As the president of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) and premier of the Northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello was perhaps the most politically powerful person in Nigeria during the first five years of independence. Although he participated in national discussions on constitutional reform and from 1952 to 1959 was a member a member of the Federal House of Representatives, he was concerned primarily with the development of the North and the protection of that region from what he considered Southern incursions. Therefore, when Nigeria became independent in 1960, Sir Ahmadu Bello chose to remain premier of the Northern part, while the deputy president of the NPC, Alhaji Sir AbubakarTafawaBalewa became Prime Minister of the Federation.
Chief Gani Oyesola Fawyinmi
Chief Gani Faweyinmi was an erudite and brilliant lawyer who spent his entire life and wealth fighting injustice against the masses. His main opponent was the government, especially the military governments. His defense of the masses and the less-privileged was unequaled such that he was given the honorary award of the Senior Advocate of the Masses (SAM) when he was yet to be conferred with the legal award of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Gani Faweyinmi went to prisons many times not because he committed any offenses but because he was fighting injustices against the masses. During his lifetime, he was a person of integrity.
Need for People of Integrity in the Society
Integrity remains one of the most important values a society needs to survive and thrive. Society stands to benefit immensely if every individual in the society imbibes it as a principle. It has been identified earlier that some qualities such as probity, honesty, contentment, etc. constitute integrity. Once integrity is imbibed as a culture, all these qualities will be inherent in every individual in the society, and the society, in turn, becomes a better place to live. Below is some of the important or needs for people of integrity in society.
- Integrity, if it exists in the society, brings about the social, cultural, political, and economic growth and development in the society. For example, Nelson Mandela, a former Southern African President, ruled his country well and the country enjoyed great development in all aspects. This was possible because Nelson Mandela was a person of high integrity.
- A society with people of integrity is respected by other societies. Today, many Western countries are held in high esteem because of their enviable position in terms of development and high standard of living. The countries are comfortable to live in because they are governed by people of integrity.
- Individuals who have integrity in a society are respected and seen as role models for the younger generations in that society. In Nigeria today, public figures such as Professor Wole Soyinka, Mr Femi Falana, a lawyer and activist, and others inspire young people through the integrity they have shown in different issues that have to do with the masses. As a result, they have become mentors to many young people even when they have not met them physically.
- Good leaders emerge in a society where integrity is embraced. When the leaders in a society show integrity in their words and deeds, the younger generation learns from them and become people of integrity in the future.
- Integrity ensures that public resources are used judiciously and evenly. Leaders with integrity see public resources entrusted to them as things they must be accountable for. Therefore, they make judicious use of the resources and distribute them evenly among the people of the society.
- In a society where integrity is embraced, a peaceful atmosphere exists among the people. The people think well of the leaders and do not view them with suspicion. They have confidence in their leaders that will deliver the dividends of governance to them.
With integrity in place in the society, corruption is reduced or eliminated. Trust and confidence exist between the leaders and the led and social vices do not have a place to stay. Leaders become role models to youths.