Saturday, June 15, 2013

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes: What Nigeria Should Be Doing About Honesty and Accountability

I had the privilege of attending a symposium contest held for public secondary schools here in Nasarawa state on Thursday. And as always, I was pumped to watch and hear young Nigerians speak on the future they'll like to see. The none jenniferized themed of the contest was "value and ethics re-orientation in Nigeria." About 30 schools were invited by the organizers, Center for Educational Empowerment and Orientation CEEO, and given 30 different topics to speak on in advance (only 23 schools showed up). Each school had 5 minutes to speak.

GSSS students were well represented- actually the speaker from the school are girls on fire! I think you seeing the video will give a clearer understanding of what I mean. Their charisma lit up the room and their delivery of the points got people at the high table and main audience nodding in affirmation. But for the poor management of time, I'm sure they would have come out top 3.

But, as my colleague, Ayobami said after the contest, it was an "Olympic." Olympic is not to win but to participate. Their participation sure made an impact!

Here is a text of what the girls presented:

  "Honesty and accountability for National Transformation and Development"
Presenter 1: During a fellowship programme in the US in 2009, a group of young people, including a Nigerian, were asked to rate their country based on how honest the people were. Are people honest in your country? "No," they all replied. Then another question was posed at them: Do you think you are an honest person? Surprisingly, they all responded with a yes.

The interesting part of the exercise was that the participants said that they are honest but do not think others in their country are honest people. This is the reality of where we are today as a country: everyone is always looking over the shoulder of his neighbour and pointing accusing fingers at others and the government for the many problems as well as the corrupt state in the country. Everyone else wants to blame others and keep them accountable. We forget that real measure of honesty and accountability starts with self.

Good morning honorable commissioners, school principals, educators, other stakeholders and the panel of judges present here today. My name is Grace Noah Bashiru, an SS 1 student of Government Science Secondary School...

The purpose of this presentation themed: "Honesty and accountability for National Transformation and Development," is to share my views on how honesty and accountability can be used as a tool to improve the current state of Nigeria's development. To achieve this objective, it is pertinent to understand the context of the topic by defining the term honesty, accountability and national transformation and development.

Honesty means being truthful, trustworthy. Accountability means to be answerable for one's action. Transformation means the act of changing completely. According to the advanced learner's dictionary, national is defined as connected with a particular nation, shared by a whole nation. Development is defined as the gradual growth of something so that it becomes more advanced or stronger.

To further explain the concept, national development is defined by O. Obasanjo and Mabogunje in a paper titled "Element of Development", as "a change or transformation into a better state…it is a process concerned with people's capacity in a defined area over a defined period to manage an induced positive change: in terms of ability to predict, plan, understand and monitor change as well as to reduce or eliminate unwarranted change."

From these definitions, national transformation and development refers to the collective effort of a particular nation put in place to attain a gradual growth or advancement. The essence of such development is to bring about an improvement in all areas while eliminating unwanted change. But this cannot happen in isolation. We need men, women and children to embrace truthfulness and be able to account for their action at all times.

At the national level, there is a transformation agenda which draws inspiration from the Vision 20.20 and the first National implementation plan and is based on a set of priority policies and programme which when implemented would transform the Nigerian economy to meet the future need of the people. But while some say lack of continuity, consistency and commitment has hindered the actualization of this agenda. Others might blame it on corruption and lack of accountability on the part of our leaders. On this note, I will like to invite my colleague to explain more.

Presenter 2: All protocols duely observed. My name is Edwin Bashiru Rosemary, an SS 1 student of GSSS.... To explain further, in Nigeria today, one of the major factors hindering us from fully realizing our development potential as a country is corruption. This challenge cuts across different spheres of our society- from Education to politics to business even to our daily routines as individuals. Our reputation of corrupt practices resonates at international level.

According to the 2012 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index report on Nigeria, our country ranks 135 out of 176 countries surveyed. This report revealed that Nigeria shares the position with Pakistan and Nepal, to remain one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

But we can choose to consciously change things. Indeed, to achieve the much-anticipated transformation we seek in Nigeria, all hands must be on deck. We must all be more honest and more accountable at our individual level while holding leaders in different places as well as the government accountable.

Honesty and accountability starts with simple actions such as students abstaining from examination malpractice, parents not giving bribe to educators to falsify their children's result, religious leaders not being hypocritical in their dealings, business men and women not using substandard materials to produce their goods and so on. Honesty and accountability is not only expected of the government but also of us.

As my colleague mentioned at the beginning of this presentation, many people think others are not honest in Nigeria. But instead of just seeing ourselves as the only honest people in Nigeria, we should be able to pay attention at what others are doing and keep them accountable and vice versa.

This implies that no development championed by honesty and accountability can take place automatically or in isolation. It involves a process and conscious collective effort of all affected to induce and sustain the desire for an improved nation and take action to effect such improvement. Honesty and accountability are therefore important tools we can use to induce this transformation and development.

Honesty brings about absolute development and growth in different aspects like peaceful co-existence, loyalty and harmony that can foster the much-anticipated development you and I want in Nigeria. Central Bank Governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, once said no country is immune to corruption. In his words, "the greatest challenge facing Nigeria is the challenge of a people that have lost sight of the importance of merit and not corruption."

In my opinion, it is time to refocus our sight to embrace the importance of merit. We need to begin to celebrate people of integrity as much as we keep those who are not honest in their dealings accountable. This way, the younger generation will be able to emulate the behaviour of role models who are celebrated for good.

Thank You.


What do you think?

1 comment:

Alex Uzor said...

This is an awesome piece. The girls really made some serious points that if pondered over, will lead to personal and national transformation. Kudos to the schools that participated. Kudos to the organizers. Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.