It is still very early in the morning. I have struggled with sleep all night. First, I stayed up till 12 midnight, trying to listen to our President address us on the state of the nation. The broadcast was billed to happen 3 hours earlier but this didn’t happen. Even after deciding to go to bed at 12, I couldn’t just get sleep! Nigeria, my dear country, was on my mind! The last few days have been very dramatic in the country. I am sure the government did not expect (or did not prepare) for the intensity of mass protests that greeted a 117% increase in the pump price of PMS. I walked for over 10 km in order to join other Nigerians in protesting against this draconian rule. I was surprised to see the caliper of the people that led and attended the rallies. A very good number of them can afford to pay 300 NGN/litre for the fuel! The issue was of course, bigger than fuel subsidy removal. It had to do with monumental corruption in government and in the nation as a whole. There is so much dishonesty at every level. It is amazing.
I am in full support of the mass protests, and I sincerely hope that this would be a turning point in our nation’s history. I honestly hope that we would not just go to sleep after these protests are all over. I hope we would continue to ask our government to be accountable. Nigeria would certainly not be the same again.
While meditating this morning however, it occurred to me that we do not only have dishonesty in government. We have it everywhere in the nooks and crannies of our nation. We have dishonest workers who would not put in a full day’s job. We have dishonest traders who would sell sub standard products to unsuspecting customers. We have dishonest husbands who ate unfaithful to their wives. We have dishonest parents who would do anything to make their children pass exams, including buying them the question papers. Let’s no deceive ourselves. As we ask for honesty in government, let us remember this – If we want a honest nation, then, we’ve got to have honest people.
We live in a world that has become so obsessed with success and material wealth at the expense of all else. It’s very rare to see men and women of integrity who would hold on to their righteousness by all means. “The end justifies the means” is now the motto of several people, all in a bid to amass wealth. It is a tragedy!
Sometime ago, a colleague sent a story to me by mail. I had read this story a few times before now, but this time around, it made more sense to me. Can I share this story with you? It is an old Ghanaian fable.
“An aging king woke up one day to the realization that should he drop dead, there would be no male in the royal family to take his place. He was the last male in the royal family in a culture where only a male could succeed to the throne - and he was aging. He decided that if he could not give birth to a male, he would adopt a son who then could take his place, but he insisted that such an adopted son must be exraordinary in every sense of the word. So he launched a competition in his kingdom, open to all boys, no matter what their background. Ten boys made it to the every top. There was little to separate these boys in terms of intelligence and physical attributes and capabilities. The king said to them, "I have one last test and whoever comes top will become my adopted son and heir to my throne."
Then he said, "This kingdom depends solely on agriculture. So the king must know how to cultivate plants. So here is a seed of corn for each of you. Take it home and plant and nurture it for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, we shall see who has done the best job of cultivating the seed. That person will be my heir-apparent. "
The boys took their seeds and hurried home. They each got a flower pot and planted the seed as soon as they got home. There was much excitement in the kingdom as the people waited with bated breath to see who was destined to be their next king. In one home, the boy and his parents were almost heartbroken when after days of intense care, the seed failed to sprout. He did not know what had gone wrong with his. He had selected the soil carefully, he had applied the right quantity and type of fertilizer, he had been very dutiful in watering it at the right intervals, he had even prayed over it day and night and yet his seed had turned out to be unproductive.
Some of his friends advised him to go and buy a seed from the market and plant that. "After all," they said, "how can anyone tell one seed of corn from another?" But his parents who had always taught him the value of integrity reminded him that, if the king wanted them to plant any corn, he would have asked them to go for their own seed. "If you take anything different from what the king gave you that would be dishonesty. Maybe we are not destined for the throne. If so, let it be but don't be found to have deceived the king," they told him.
The D-Day came, and the boys returned to the palace each of them proudly exhibiting a very fine corn seedling. It was obvious that the other nine boys had had great success with their seeds. The king began making his way down the line of eager boys and asked each of them "Is this came out of the seed I gave you?" And each boy responded, "Yes, your majesty." And the king would nod and move down the line. The king finally got to the last boy in the line-up. The boy was shaking with fear. He knew that the king was going to have him thrown into prison for wasting his seed.
"What did you do with the seed I gave you?" the king asked."I planted it and cared for it diligently, your majesty, but alas it failed to sprout." the boy said tearfully, as the crowd booed him. But the king raised his hands and signaled for silence. Then he said, "My people behold your next king." The people were confused. "Why that one?" many asked. "How can he be the right choice?" The king took his place on his throne with the boy by his side and said, "I gave these boys boiled seeds. This test was not for cultivating corn. It was the test of character; a test of integrity. It was the ultimate test. If a king must have one quality, it must be that he should be above dishonesty. Only this boy passed the test. A boiled seed cannot sprout." ”
The single most important quality you can ever develop that will enhance every part of your life is the value of integrity and hoensty. Integrity is the core quality of a successful and happy life. Having integrity means being totally honest and truthful in every part of your life. By making the commitment to become a totally honest person, you will be doing more to ensure your success and happiness in life than anything else you can ever do. Most importantly, you will contribute to the progress of our country. We are in dire need of honest men.
Will you stand up to be counted with men of integrity?