The Chairman of the occasion, your Majesty Kabiyesi, Mother of the day, the organizers of this event, gentlemen of the press, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me start by appreciating the organizers of this event for the wonderful topic they chose for discussion “Integrity In Public Institutions”. Let me also thank you for making me one of the resource persons for the event.
The topic is both scary and interesting depending on what side of the divide you stand or where you view it from. We are all aware that our public institutions are not what they used to be some 40-50 years ago. Then it was with pride that one said he was a public servant. Today, the reverse is the case and one of the fallout is the way you see officials of public institutions who wear uniforms going to work or going home after work in mufti. A lot of those who work in public institutions in Nigeria are no longer proud to declare their place of work again.
I will like to start my lecture proper by providing several definitions of integrity so set us up for the reason why we are here gathered.
Integrity can be described as a steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code of conduct. A person or institution with integrity must be honest, upright and proven. The person or institution must have self control, empathy, understand issues, capable, responsibility, accountability, justice, fear of God, value, conscience, noble, sincerity and truthfulness.
Other synonyms of Integrity include but are not limited to, honesty, principles, probity, purity, rectitude, candor, forthrightness, goodness, honor, righteousness.
The following Quotes would also help us all understand the weight of the topic for this event.
– Integrity is about doing the right thing even when no one is watching.
-integrity is about choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gains.
– If you do not have integrity you have nothing. You can have all the money in the world but if you are not a moral or ethical person you have nothing.
– Wisdom is knowing the right part to take but Integrity is about taking the path.
– Your beliefs do not make you a better person but rather your behavior does.
– Integrity is about doing the right thing and not that which is easy.
– Success without Integrity is failure
– lost money can be re-earned, time can be clawed back, love can be re-ignited but Integrity is unrecoverable
– Integrity is about making sure that the things you say and those things you do are in alignment
– Based on Integrity, people may doubt what you say but they will believe what they see you do.
As we move along, I will like to briefly speak about Public Institution. It can best be described as a juristic person. A Public Institution is backed through public funds and it is controlled by the state. Examples of Public Institutions include all three tiers of government, the federal, state and local governments. Public Institutions can also be defined as having a public purpose at heart such institutions include schools, banks, hospitals, fire service, court houses, police stations, airports, train and bus stations.
A Public Institution is one that is sustained with public funds.
Core values of any institution are Integrity, transparency, honesty, accountability. As a result, staff or those who work or hold office in Public Institution must be open minded, straight forward, reliable, consistent both in action and decision. They must be responsible for their actions, be free from conflict of interest and uphold the credibility of the public institution where they serve.
Anyone working in or holding office in a public institution must be seen to be promoting the duties and obligations of the institution. They must be willing to accept responsibilities for actions taken. They are accountable to stakeholders for their actions and must be seen to be promoting efficient and the effective use of public resources.
We are at a crossroad today as a result of lack of integrity and transparency in all spheres of our public institutions. Those already in the system are tainted in corruption trials while those aspiring to get into the system are only thinking of how they can get rich quick.
From the church to the mosque, judiciary to government at all tiers, health, military, central bank, teaching hospitals, military to mention a few, lack of transparency, honesty, probity, fear of God, integrity, efficiency, respect for the rule of law are the order of the day.
Our public institutions are so corrupted today, so much that when anyone does the right thing as it obtains in any decent society, we sing the praises of such an individual to high heavens and give them awards and monetary rewards, like it was done to the cleaner at the MM2 Airport in Lagos who returned a traveler’s bag with a huge sum of money, and the recent case of two policemen who saw a bag of money fall from a bullion truck in Lagos and returned it. They were instantly rewarded by the Executive Governor with cash prices for being morally upright and exhibiting a modicum of integrity.
There is an urgent need to go back to our roots and find out how and where we got it wrong. Examination malpractice is the order of the day, cultism is a way of life in Nigeria today. High officers in public institutions celebrate been tried in courts of law for malfeasance. It’s no longer a taboo to be paraded in handcuffs on television and pages of newspapers. Corruption is now a way of life with us in Nigeria. We now read of fathers and their children being jointly tried for dipping their hands in public coffers. Judgement is now bought and sold to the highest bidders. Funds to prosecute war are been diverted by a privileged few to buy luxury cars and homes. Money meant for the purchase of life saving equipments in our teaching hospitals are diverted to buying of shares etc.
We urgently need to seek the face of God and turn away from our wicked ways. We as individuals in public institutions are responsible for the pain in the land and NOT Government. The Government has been responsible enough to make provision by way of budgets but officials of public institutions find a way of circumventing the intent of Government for their personal aggrandizement.
For every child that dies in a hospital today for lack of oxygen, the blood is on the head of an official of a public institution who did not do the right thing. For every aircraft that falls from the sky, the blood of all those who die is on the head of a public institution who did not do the right thing. For any business that is run aground due poor policy implementation, the number of people who have lost a means of income will not forgive the public official of the financial institution responsible. For every soldier sent to the war front without proper equipment, his death has been sanctioned by a public official who bought substandard military hardware.
Mr. Chairman, your Majesty Kabiyesi, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the time to act positively is NOW as tomorrow may be too late. May God guide us in doing right ALL the time.
Thank you for your kind attention and God bless Nigeria, Amen
Dr. Olusegun Abraham
Olusegun Abraham is a Chartered Engineer and industrialist who is also the frontline gubernatorial aspirant of the All Progressives Congress in the Ondo 2016 election.
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