By Alege Seun and Onyekachi Okwu
The immediate past Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, had one of his finest moments recently when he was honoured with an integrity award by the Nigerian Association of Christian Journalists (NACJ).
Arase, according to NACJ’s Secretary General, Charles Okhai, was honoured alongside other prominent Nigerians “for demonstrating a high sense of integrity and lifestyle, especially in their leadership positions over the years.”
Tagged 4th Integrity Award and Annual Dinner, the occasion which was hosted at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, Lagos, marked the formal presentation of the honours to the recipients.
The occasion featured human rights activist, Yinka Odumakin, who delivered a keynote speech titled Integrity: “An Essential Ingredient in Nation Building.”
Okhai, who reminded all and sundry of the essence of the annual event, noted that it was also aimed at reminding journalists of their role in development and nation building. He added that it was journalists who determine the level of peace, war and development in the country.
“One of the ways to do this is to change peoples’ mindset, by working on their character and perception of issues especially that which affects national interest.
“Character is a pattern of behaviour, thought and feelings based on universal principles of moral standard. Character is a caution whistle that holds us back when we are tempted to cross the line into the territory of moral wrongs. If the psyche of a nation lacks the moral character, the nation will proportionally lack in all good things. When men and women with warped and weird characters run a nation, the nation is sure to run down into the abyss of failure,” he stated.
Speaking on the night, Odumakin posited that integrity was not enough in building a virile nation. He said there were other things that needed to be in place before integrity could come to play. He added that the absence of social amenities and profitable jobs could bend individuals to breach their integrity and engage in illegal activities as long as it would pay them and put food on their tables. He said integrity without skills would amount to nothing significant.
While receiving the award plague on behalf of her husband, Mrs Arase contended that no nation could attain her maximum potential without the spirit of integrity, especially in the lives of her leaders. She stated that it was only integrity that could make things better.
“Things might be bad as you may want to see it but it will never get better if we don’t stand our ground. Integrity is an essential part of human existence and we need to have mental integrity and be conscious as a people in order to bring about the nation of our dream,” she stated.
On the honour given to her husband, she said that it was a challenge for all the recipients to be more diligent, patriotic and integrity conscious in their places of assignments, relationship with people, and service to humanity.
“I will urge you all not to go back in your effort; this award is not a glory but a name to protect. It will serve as a benchmark for you all to know the limit you can’t cross,” she added.
Apart from the Integrity Man of the Year award given to Mr Arase, there was the Professional Integrity award that went to the duo of broadcaster and media personality, Bisi Olatilo and advertising guru, Mr Lolu Akinwunmi, Group Managing Director, Prima Garnet Africa limited.