Following THISDAY’s report on a cab man who returned 18 million naira lost money to theowners, Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a rare show of commitment to promoting integrity in Nigeria honoured the man described as a ‘national hero’ with a reward of N2.5 million.
Adeola Akinremi writes
“I was flown to Lagos with my wife and our Association Chairman. I attended an elaborate ceremony organized by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to showcase integrity. I was given some amount of money. I am so happy about it.”
Those were the words of Mr. Imeh Usuah, the Abuja Cab driver whose story of integrity was published in THISDAY edition of September 20, 2012. He has been reward. The story headlined, “One Missing Hero at the National Honour’s Awards” caught the attention of many individuals, corporate organizations, and government agencies. In the end, it was the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) that fired the first shot at recognising integrity.
Mr. Usuah had returned the sum of N18 million to the two Britons who forgot the money in his cab. He said, “I did it to let people know, especially the foreigners that Nigerians are good and great people. I can go hungry for days, for as long as my integrity remains, hunger will disappear by itself”.
Perhaps, Usuah has a clairvoyance eyes to predict his own future that hunger will disappear by itself as integrity takes centre stage in his life, on September 25, exactly five days after the publication, the Security and Exchange Commission honoured a rare ‘national hero’ using him as an ambassador to launch the maiden edition of its Integrity award with the sum of 2.5 million naira reward in cash and investment.
The Director General, SEC, says, “this award is being instituted to remind our people that integrity pays and with integrity we can achieve whatever we want to achieve in life without necessarily cutting corners. Also, it is to tell everyone that integrity can take higher than improper behavior which brings people down.”
“In the capital market, integrity is very important, since we trade in intangible assets that are only represented on paper. Integrity is very crucial in the capital markets; otherwise there cannot be a market in the first instance. Without trust, no one will put his money in the capital market and once there is high level of trust, people can invest their entire life savings in the market.” She said.
Arunma Oteh may be walking the talk. She has been a staunch campaigner for integrity in government circle.
A wane integrity it was that led to the near collapse of the Nigerian capital market in 2008. The reform she now seek in her capacity as the DG of SEC.
She refers to Usuah in a familiar tone. “ Our brother here, Mr. Imeh Usuah has actually exhibited that level of integrity, hence, we in the capital market are joining others in celebrating him. And we believe that with such behaviour the sky is the limit. I am aware that some other organisations have recognised him for this behaviour and others will also do the same.
However, we in the capital market believe that such behavior of detesting iniquities, will surely, lead to improved activities in our market, attract more investors to the market, lead to greater confidence and growth of the market as well as sustain growth and development of our economy as a whole.
Our gift to him may be less than the amount he returned to the owner, but it is more honourable for him to have this given to him than to take by greed what does not belong to him, no matter the amount.
Our reward is in form of cash and investment for future return, totaling N2.5 million. While we are giving him a cash gift of N1.5 million to assist him in his business, another gift of N1 million is being set aside for him as investment in combination of bonds, equities and money market instruments, which will be invested in collective investment scheme (CIS) of his choice.”
he award, according to the Communication Adviser in the office of the SEC-DG, Mr. Obi Adindu is intended to rediscover the place of integrity in the Nigerian value system. “It underscores that integrity and honesty are central to relationships, especially business transactions. These virtues are also at the very nucleus of enduring success in life, not the pyrhhic ‘victories’ of the ‘get rich quick’ syndrome to which many a folk have become accustomed and for which they rejoice,” he stated.
For Usuah, his reward was a significant one, the man chosen to present him with his plaque of honour is no other than the man at the helms of affair at the National Human Rights Commission, prof. Chidi Odinkalu.
“We chose Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, something of a high priest in the intellectual wing of Nigeria’s human rights community, to present the maiden Integrity Award to Mr. Imeh Usuah in the former’s capacity as special Guest of Honour at the Award.
The choice of Prof. Odinkalu was an easy one. He had used his knowledge of law as an instrument for the propagation of citizenship rights across over two decades. He had steered clear of the rambunctious, self serving aspect of civil / human rights advocacy while garnering a solid reputation both locally and internationally for sober, consistent and principled advocacy.
His appointment as Chair of the National Human Rights Commission was in recognition of this selfless and untainted backdrop. He affirmed the integrity of his resume by exceeding the call of duty in the statutory prescription for assets declaration. He not only fully declared his assets, he made the declaration public, thereby showing leadership in the area of transparent public service.
The convergence between Prof. Odinkalu’s credentials and the moral which the SEC and capital markets community sought to propagate for the benefit of the larger society through the Integrity Award is unmistakable”.
Sure, presenting an award to a man who showed uncommon honesty and integrity by returning a large sum of money to its owners by prof. Odinkalu may be a stamp to raise the bar of integrity in Nigeria.
L-R: Odinkalu, Mrs Usuah, Mr Usuah and Oteh during the presentation of N2.5m integrity award