By Adekunle Adekoya
Up for consideration today is the issue of attenuating integrity in politics and management of public affairs as it concerns you and I. The dictionary defines attenuation as the reduction of the force, effect, or value of something.
Perhaps attenuation can be made clearer from the perspectives of a physicist or electronic/electrical engineer, specialist scientists who see attenuation as the “reduction of the amplitude of a signal, electric current, or other oscillation.”
Compared to what we see now, the politicians of the First and Second Republics were saints; at least most of them, though there was quite a sprinkling of charlatans that strutted around the political landscape of those times. Integrity, for me is at issue now because it is a construct that drives competence in the management of public affairs for the greater good of the greater majority of our people.
Since 1999 when we returned to civil rule, this much-desired, but mostly elusive construct, had been lacking in the persona of most of the men and women entrusted with running our affairs, and this has led us to the economic and insecurity cul-de-sac we are now.
Progressively, the concept and ideal of integrity has attenuated among the power elite.
It is important for politicians to be people of integrity because they are elected to serve the rest of us, and to be able to do that, the grundnorm we have agreed on gives them the power to formulate, execute, or control policy.
In short, a person of integrity must be imbued with, and radiate attributes like honesty, respect, trust, responsibility, making one’s words a bond — which means keeping promises. An individual with these attributes would be a trustworthy person.
If the plethora of electoral promises made since 1999 to date, 21 years running, were to be listed, and a checklist generated of promises kept and unkept, would the Nigerian politician still be a trustworthy person?
Nigerians desired change in 2014-15, and voted for the party that promised change. The first indication that the change may remain elusive was the inability of those that promised change to properly articulate it, become the change agents, and drive the change process that would help birth a new Nigeria.
Instead, what did we get? You can see for yourself as the concept of change never progressed beyond mere sloganeering. If in 2014-2015, we were told that our moribund refineries would not just be revamped, but new ones will also be built, and six years after, the same refineries are gulping billions of naira and refining zero crude, can we continue to hold on to the value of that proclamation, which made the people give their votes in the 2015 elections?
How about promises made about our healthcare system? Instead, what are we seeing?Again, we were told that the incoming government will tackle insecurity, the economy, and corruption. Has our state of insecurity improved from 2015 levels? Has our economy performed better than it was in 2015?
You, the reader, are you richer or poorer than you were in 2015? How many states shut down all schools in 2015 because of insecurity, and how many have done so now? Did we have to shut telecommunications services in some states on account of insecurity in 2015?
Answers to these questions point to the attenuation of integrity in those who made these promises and failed to keep them, and instead spew forth rhetoric to justify failure, indicating the strong connection between integrity and competence in the management of public affairs.
The political season is here. Not that the season ever went away, just that the wheelings and dealings that must be done ahead of voters’ endorsement, otherwise know as elections are in high gear. One major pattern of the season that is emerging is defections, and as expected, the ruling APC has been the major beneficiary of defections.
This is in stark contrast to the 2015 elections, which saw high-profile defections from the ruling PDP to the freshly-minted APC of that time. Governors, legislators at the federal and state levels have defected from their parties to another.
It is not new. As it was in the beginning, so it is now, and shall continue to be, for as long as Abuja retains its allure. But when a party in whom the people invested so much hope in 2015 opens its doors wide to all kinds of people, including those who have 10-inch thick files at the anti-corruption agencies, then you may know that integrity, the superstructure around which the party’s appeal was built, has suffered severe attenuation. It is not a case of repented sinners being allowed back to the places of worship and being denied the pulpit; is is something worse. Describe it in your own words.