By Omoh Gabriel
Nigerians are not a corrupt people, not all. Corruption is not the character of an average Nigerian. Many will attest to the fact that out there are many with impeccable character, integrity and honour. Men with integrity, who will do everything to protect their family names, abound in this country.
Time it was when in the community setting, anyone who went to jail was ostracized; no one will marry from that family or have any transaction with them. Then, family and community leaders questioned an individual’s source of wealth.
In the immediate past, family members will rise in unison against any member suspected to be a thief. It was a strange thing to think of a family member appearing as a thief or tagged corrupt on television or on the pages of newspapers.
Members of the family who such act has brought shame upon will almost have heart attack. Many Nigerians who are in the age bracket of 60 and above, will understand this concept. Massive corruption in Nigeria is with this generation. Zik, Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Michael Okpara and Yakubu Gowon were leaders who left office with integrity. They were not millionaires, yet, they are happy wherever they are.
In this generation of Nigerians, nobody raises an eyebrow when members of their families are reported on national newspapers and television as having stolen money. How come Nigerians have become so debased that individuals, especially those in political circle and government offices, are stealing billions without a prick of conscience?
The decadence is more in the nation’s body politics and government circles. Check it out, from Farouk to Bankole, Hembe and others who have been accused of corruption, are of this generation.
Despite the bad news of corruption, there are still Nigerians who refuse to join the bandwagon. I have heard of an elderly man who went to his account and found a deposit of about N10 million, he told the bank the deposit in his account was not his and the bank bought him a car.
He is a Nigerian. Last week, Arco Petrochemical Engineering Company honoured Elder Sunday Atseruneyioretse Daibo for honesty and commitment to inspiring young men. Seventy-eight-year-old Daibo was a Union Bank staff who 32 years ago, gave Arco Petrochemical Engineering the seed money to begin operation.
The Managing Director of the company, Alfred Okoigun, at 25, had approached him when he was manager of one of Union Bank’s branches with a proposal for N14, 000.
The applicant had no collateral. He studied the application and found that the young man had zeal. Daibo went out of his way to look for collateral for him and subsequently disbursed the loan to Alfred Okoigun with no strings attached. The young entrepreneur started the business and today, Arco Petrochemical Engineering is doing big time oil servicing business.
Daibo said he was doing his normal duty and that working in the bank then required that you be faithful and sincere. Looking at the Nigerian economic, banking and political terrain, actors are neither faithful to the Nigerian project nor sincere to the people they claim to be serving or representing.
It is high time society began to recognise those who characterize positive values such as honesty, responsibility and trustworthiness in ways that would encourage others to look up to them as role models.
Daibo and many others like him are a confirmation that not all Nigerians are corrupt, hence the error of labelling Nigeria and all its citizens as corrupt because of the nefarious activities of a negligible few of its citizens. Nigerians must always do the right thing at all times bearing in mind that there is a reward for it.
There is the story of another 61-year-old Abuja taxi driver who returned N18 million to the owner. Imeh Usua is his name. Usua’s act of honesty and integrity is outstanding. When he found the money, he realised immediately that he had to return the money. If he had made away with the money, nobody will know he did but he had conscience. What bothers Nigerians most is that, those in power will never put this act of trustworthiness into their record in case of national awards and people that are not worthy are those being given.
If Arco Petrochemical Engineering can remember Daibo after 32 years, Nigeria should take a cue and provide hall of fame for those found to be honest and trustworthy no matter who they are.