By Ganiu Bmgbose (PhD)
Every Nigerian with social media presence is most likely in the euphoria of the trending slogan, lori iro; an expression promulgated by a street evangelist who preaches against flirtation and insincere promises. Since ours is a society where one must really try hard to devise a coping strategy and means of happiness, given our several socio-political cum economic challenges, Nigerians have blended the slogan into many scenarios in forms of short skits as a kind of entertainment.
On the contrary, thinking in line with the original intent of this newly found slogan, the expression is deserving of serious reflection as it raises the question of a missing virtue in our society: integrity.
Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It has been explained by someone as the alignment of words and actions. Warren Buffett, an American investor and business tycoon once said: “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.”
Integrity is strongly attached to other highly significant life virtues such as dignity, responsibility, shame (an uncomfortable feeling of being ashamed because of your own or someone else’s bad behaviour). Anyone who does not worry about being truthful to their words will find no wrong in being irresponsible and unanswerable to anyone.
This of course makes one lose one’s sense of dignity and relevance. Sadly, this act of dishonour has become the honourable thing and smart way to relevance in Nigeria. The quality of lies and empty promises have become the parameter for who gets what in the struggle for a befitting life in Nigeria.
As jokingly said by someone, a typical Nigerian man can even promise a lady long life and prosperity just to access her skirt. But of course that is only a joking matter in a country where even political leaders confidently make empty and unrealistic promises.
How a presidential candidate to be elected democratically in Nigeria would assume that he can fix the problem of power, road, health system and unemployment in four years is beyond me. How Nigerians, then, believe and become expectant of such promises is the bigger joke.
A chairmanship aspirant in Nigeria even had on his flyer just recently that the people should vote him to secure the future of their children. I laughed and wondered how a chairman could be such an insurance company personified.
Sadly, we have lost rectitude as a nation. We hardly find a problem in lying and being lied to. Even before the new normal that the world is experiencing, we have, as a nation, normalised the abnormal. How do you hold a tailor responsible for not sewing your cloth, owe a mechanic responsible for not fixing your car, a lecturer responsible for failing you for sex, a father responsible for not sending you to school when we all cannot hold those we have elected responsible for not delivering the dividends of democracy?
And the question that follows is: what is the way forward? First off, we must individually and collectively admit that we suffer a systemic problem as a country; where no one can boldly claim to be an exception to the problem. It is a fallacy to assume that the government can fix all of the problems.
For instance, how is the government directly responsible for the commercial drivers’ decision to charge the commuters N200 for a regular N100 journey because there are more people at the junctions than the available buses can convey?
Like some persons have said, move all Nigerians to the UK and see the UK become Nigeria in a week and see Nigeria become the UK in no time. Everyone, therefore, must take responsibility to live a life where our words match our deeds.
Do that which you are paid to do. Deliver that which you promise during electioneering. Say not that which you cannot fulfill just to have your way. Do not that which is wrong because you cannot be challenged. If in our little ways we imbibe the habit of INTEGRITY, then together we can achieve the Nigeria we desire.
Dr. Bamgbose is of the Lagos State University (LASU)