If there is anything that sustains a leader and makes followers, without any inducement, to stand by him, integrity is it! If there is a core requirement that followers want to see in their leaders, integrity is it! If hard work is needed to take you to the top, what quality do you need to keep you there? Integrity is it!
The ninth and penultimate letter in the word “leadership” is “I” and your guess is right, it stands for integrity! Integrity refers to “steadfast adherence to a strict moral and ethical code” or “the quality of being wholesome, unimpaired”. The synonyms of integrity are honesty, uprightness, rectitude, purity, goodness, probity, sincerity, virtue, decency, among others, according a dictionary. Without integrity, leadership is pure vanity; without integrity, every leader is a nonentity.
Therefore, it is necessary for present and aspiring leaders, students especially, being the future of the society, to be schooled in integrity. Human beings are known for who they are and those without integrity are often considered unfit for leadership positions. If people lacking in integrity, for one reason or another, occupy leadership positions, those they lead are in trouble.
Character is the heart of integrity and discipline is the wing with which it flies. A man of integrity sticks to his principles such that those principles then define his personality. The Nigerian media brands the former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Hon. Justice Mustapha Akanbi (rtd.), “Mr Integrity”. He is known for decency and aversion to corruption.
Dear reader, human beings are like products and every product is a brand. What comes to your mind when you hear Nokia, Samsung, Sharp or Techno? Why do the manufacturers of inferior products choose to deceive the unsuspecting public with the corruption of the established brand names? Panaldol, Abidas, Phillip are some fake products exploiting the names of established products. It is just like people without integrity exploiting the name and photograph of a General Muhammadu Buhari to swindle the public though they don’t share his political ideology or affiliation.
It is no longer news that Nigeria recently conducted peaceful and successful elections, largely, and the whole world is happy. The President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, enjoyed the overwhelming support of the majority of Nigerians not because of the size of his bank account or the amount of money he was able to share to various groups but because of his integrity.
Here is a man who was viciously maligned and savagely attacked in traditional and new media to an unprecedented level. Here is a man against whom several billions of naira was expended for brutal character assassination. All kinds of lies were told about him but all were to no avail all because of Buhari’s unimpeachable integrity.
Funnily, a young man was so pissed off with the anti-Burahi tirade that he wrote, as I shared in an article, “Buhariphilia versus Buhariphobia”: “If you like, tell me that Buhari went only to almajiri school, I will still vote for Buhari. Tell me that Buhari never attended any school before, I will still vote for Buhari. Tell me Buhari was actually raised in the bush by wild animals only, I will still vote for Buhari. Tell me Buhari is actually an alien from Mars, I will vote for Buhari. Tell me Buhari is 100 years old, I will still vote for Buhari. Tell me Buhari jailed every single Nigerian that was alive during his tenure, I will still vote for Buhari. Tell me that during Buhari’s tenure, people had to apply to Government and get approval before they urinate, defecate, eat or drink (sic), I will still vote for Buhari. Tell me during Buhari’s tenure, couples must apply to Government and get approval before they could make love, I will still vote for Buhari…Save your words, save your energy, save your keyboards, save your time, and leave me alone!” Obviously he was not alone.
The former President of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, in his assessment of the outcome of our recent presidential elections said something that has gone viral. According to him, “Nigerians have taken the lead in the rejection of corruption. The election result is a manifestation of the people’s resolve to confront corruption, dishonesty and exploitation… Nigerians did not vote for anyone. They voted for a man whose INTEGRITY (emphasis mine) is extremely high. Nigeria is tired of corruption and the choice of this leader is a clear indication of where she wants to go.”
In essence, the big question is: to be a leader, what do you need? The answer is unmistakable: integrity is it!