By Collins Ughalaa KSC
There are two major trending political words in Imo State: integrity and loyalty. We have discussed loyalty in two two editions, but we feel there is the need to touch on integrity as it concerns politics. We are doing this because there is a lot of ignorance, misinformation and displacement in political circles. Some people do and talk about what they don’t know much about. Therefore, when you hear someone tell another person: “you are not a man of intergrity”, what does it mean to you ?. Or, when you hear someone tell another person: “you lack integrity “, what strikes your mind?
The dictionary says integrity means steadfastness, adherence to a strict moral code; the state of being wholesome and unimpaired; the quality or condition of being complete, pure. Integrity has synonyms such as honesty, uprightness, rectitude, unity, wholeness, purity, goodness, probity, sincerity, virtue and decency.
Strictly speaking, integrity is a moral code, not a political code. Some people deploy it as a political tool to blackmail others. But since the term is gaining traction in our political lexicon, it is fitting to determine what it is and what it is not.
For example, a man is elected Senator, Member of the House of either the house of Representatives or State Assembly, or Governor; he diverts/steals money meant for constituency projects or community development, yet he remains in one political party. Is he a man of integrity?
A man is elected Senator, Member of the House of Representatives or State Assembly and he agrees with his constituents to do only one term and allow the office rotate to another part of his constituency. This man violates the agreement and returns to the House twice, yet he remains in one party. Is he a man of integrity?
Some guys stay abroad without a meaningful work yet they make alot of money. They post pictures of their shopping at supermarkets and, beautiful hotel rooms (apologies to my friends abroad). You can never see them post pictures showing them working in one office, factory or shop. Yet they mouth integrity. But another guy stays in Nigeria, changes parties and bosses but engages in no criminal activities to make ends meet. Between the two who is a man of integrity?
In case you didn’t get it, consider a man who stays in one political party but he is sabotaging his party. Another guy leaves the party and joins another. Between the two who is a man of integrity?
Ok. Consider a man who claims to stay in one party. He is a member of the PDP in the day but at night he meets the other party and cuts his “deal”. Is he a man of integrity?
There are many companies in Imo State. Many of them are into consultancy, supplies, services, construction, etcetera. These companies are owned by individuals who belong to political parties. They use their companies to seek for contracts from governments irrespective of the party in power. Can we say the owners of these companies are lacking in integrity? What of lawyers, maybe of the PDP, who serve as lawyers to APC governments or officials? Are they not men of integrity?
Integrity is keeping to a set of moral codes, not political codes. Politically, it is our culture to switch camps and bosses. That is to say that switching camps and bosses is part of our political code. There are no regulations or sanctions against it. When you do switch camps and bosses and remain faithful to your new boss, are you not a man of integrity?
Recently we read a story on some Senators who are very popular but have only one or no bill at all in the national assembly to their credit. We do not want to mention their names, but these lawmakers make comments in the media that resonate with the people. They fail to do the job for which they were elected. Because they say things some people like, they conclude they are men of integrity, even when they divert monies meant for constituency development to their personal bank accounts.
On the other hand, loyalty is variously described as faithfulness, devotion, allegiance, trustworthiness, constancy, reliability, fidelity and dependability. With these definitions and descriptions of loyalty, we need to create scenarios in order to properly situate and understand what loyalty actually means.
Take for example, Mr. Johnson Uche works for Sterling Global Oil Resources Ltd and after sometime his job ends. He finds another job with Waltersmith, another oil company. The two companies are bidding for oil wells and Mr. Johnson Uche is representing his new company. Who should he be faithful, loyal, dependable, trustworthy to? Should he allow his former company win the bid because he was once their staff?
Take another example. Mr. Johnson Uche was given extra-governmental appointment with clear cut responsibilities by a certain government. For whatever reason, that government is ousted. Mr. Johnson Uche gets another appointment in a new government with similar job descriptions. Who should he be loyal to? The former government or the new one?
We may take another example. A group of people are working on the media team of a certain politician with the promise that the politician would reward them when he becomes Governor again. Another person is working for another politician or government and he is getting some reward or promise of reward. What is the difference between the two groups?
Having laid out the scenarios, let me State that I believe in loyalty. People can be loyal to a person or a cause. When you are employed in a grocery store, you would be loyal to your employer. Your employer can ask you to come to work earlier or close work later than you should and you would gladly do so. But when you leave his grocery store he would not make those demands of you any more. If out of drunkenness he makes those demands after you have left his grocery store, you are not under obligation to oblige him. Your loyalty to him ends.
Moreover, when a man is loyal to a cause he gives his loyalty to the cause no matter who is the face of that cause. If Mr. Johnson Uche believes in good governance he would be loyal or supportive of any governor or president whom he believes is providing good governance.
I am usually committed to a cause I believe in. I am usually loyal to my bosses. If you employ me I can work 24 hours, even on empty stomach, to make sure the job is done. I go beyond the call of duty to deliver. When I am loyal to a cause, I can support that cause even from my sick bed.
Now, let’s bring it home.
I got extra-governmental appointment during the Ihedioha administration as SA Media to the ISOPADEC MD. Thanks to both HE Engr. Gerald Irona, and Engr. Anthony Owuoma Okwuosha. That government was ousted by the Supreme Court. The gladiators moved on. The former Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, moved on as well, setting up a private media team. I am not part of the media team. One way or the other, I got something to do with the Uzodimma administration. Or, because I believe in good governance and survival and development of Imo State I now lend my support to the government. Who should I be loyal to? Emeka Ihedioha or Governor Hope Uzodimma?
In my earlier article titled “Political Odyssey”, I made the point that “I am not a career politician. I am a communications professional, using my career to contribute my quota to how the society is governed and developed”. I added that “I believe that by so doing I would be contributing to building the nation”.
I also said: “My concept of developmental journalism is that I should not join in pulling down a performing Government. Some other appointees of the Ihedioha government have since left and now giving support to the current government. Why singling me out? Was I the star boy?”
Imo State is bigger than the interest of one man.
I hope that with these few points of mine I was able to tell you what integrity and loyalty mean.