By Emeka Diwe
It was our own Col. Anthony Aboki Ochefu, a former military administrator of the defunct East Central State, who first planted it in my consciousness the centrality of character in human life. I was a fledgling student in a secondary school in the seventies and he visited my school at mid morning with a moving speech, which harped on the essence of character and nullity of life without it. In his words, “When wealth is lost nothing is lost. When health is lost something is lost. But when character is lost all is lost.”
The above quote was later made a compulsory rendition by our school principal, and, as a teenager, I memorized and recited it day after even when it made no meaning to me. It was necessary to have it by memory and readily available on lips because avoid an impending punishment by our “wicked principal” who would suddenly call you up at any time to recite it.
However, as I grew in life and experience it dawned on me that that philosophical piece which had been nothing more than rhetoric to me was actually the beginning and end of life. It is the only thing that there is. It is the most efficacious advice in humanity. It is the truth and nothing but the truth.
In further adoration and total betrothal to the substance of the quote, I adopted it as an article of faith and guiding principle, and espoused my own version of it as “Integrity Is Everything”.
- Integrity is the absence of corruption.
- Integrity leads to good governance.
- Integrity gives you Godly love for fellow humans.
- Integrity is knowing God.
- Integrity keeps you at war with evil and corruption.
- Integrity keeps you at peace with your environment.
- Integrity is the only imperishable asset in life.
- Integrity takes you to Heaven.
- Integrity immortalizes your existence.
- Integrity is the only panacea for corruption.
- Integrity brings about unprecedented development.
Each of the above is laden with so much meaning which can make a full piece on its own. However, the ultimate idea is to relate this octopus phenomenon called integrity to new administration of Governor Emeka Ihedioha as it concerns good governance. Good governance is another phrase that is loaded with meaning. In short, it is the only thing required of Ihedioha to succeed. Anything short of good governance will amount notorious iberiberism.
New Imo Governor Ihedioha started on a very commendable note by assembling stellar citizens as Transition and Inauguration Committees. These are astute professionals, bureaucrats and technocrats in various sectors of the economy. There is no illusion about the fact that they will roll out almost impeccable policies, programmes and road map. However, those initiatives invariably fall just on one side of the good governance coin. The other side of it is the human element.
Fantastic policies cannot implement themselves, neither can splendid frameworks run on autopilot. They all require men who are imbued with a great measure of integrity to make them see the light of the day. When a sound blueprint meets a sound character the result is good governance.
The bane of governance in this part of the world is that in assembling functionaries fixated with paper certifications and impressive résumés without paying concomitant attention to character. Our school system has marginalized character building in the process of glorifying cognitive learning. The result is that we now have doctors who take lives instead of save them, lawyers who spiritedly root for injustice at the expense of justice, civil servants who demand for bribes in order to do their work, and politicians who primitively accumulate commonwealth and build islands of affluence in a sea of mass affliction. They are professionals and technocrats. Aren’t they? But they lack integrity. They lack character! They are in fact professionals in human underdevelopment and social misery.
Comparative development analysis has shown that various frameworks can lead to development. Russian moved from an agrarian to an industrial economy with socialism. America became a leading economic power with capitalism. China has emerged as an economic force with communism. However, what has led immensely to their triumphs is not the framework adopted but the human element. These countries venerate integrity in public service and punish corruption severely.
In order to rebuild Imo State, the time come to search for people of impeccable integrity to take charge of the various aspects of the new administration.
*Chief Emeka Diwe is the President-General of Orluzurumee Cultural Union, the Association of Imo State Indigenous Town Unions (AISITU) and the Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU).