By Bennett Oghifo
Corruption is prevalent in Nigeria because very few of the nationâ€™s leaders have a sense of integrity, the Nigerian Association of Christian Journalists (NACJ), has said.
The NACJ said this in a statement that outlines the procedure of its 2018 Annual Lecture on Integrity/Award, which was initiated in 2013.
â€œThe reason corruption is prevalent in our society today is simply because we have very few leaders with sense of integrity, but the tide has to take the positive turn if we must make progress as a people,â€ NACJ said in the statement signed by its Secretary General, Charles Okhai, The annual event, the group said was specifically designed to fight corruption, and that it â€œhas no doubt grown to become a national phenomenon in circle of social events. The programme is in a class of its own in several ways.â€
NACJ said for instance, â€œthe selection of nominees is meticulously done with all honesty in order to achieve the objective of the award. The candidates for each of the categories of the award are first selected during the National Executive Members Nomination Exercise.
â€œThen, after a thorough scrutiny of the candidates, the list is short listed to three on each award category. Finally, the list is further scrutinised to pick the most deserving candidate.
â€œThe need for this seemingly and tedious exercise hinges on our unflinching commitment to eradicating the societal monster called corruption. We believe that corruption does not stem from financial malfeasance which is only one of its fruits. Rather, corruption is a function of the mind, therefore, to effectively fight the monster, the peopleâ€™s mind must be the main target, hence, Integrity Award.
â€œThis further explains why our award recipients are simply tagged, Men of Integrity. This is intended to appeal to their subconscious and thus imbibe the virtues of integrity.â€
The group said: â€œTo effectively do this, we make sure that the lectures given by reputable personalities at the event, centre on the virtues of integrity. This is done to further awaken the recipients to the main purpose of the award.
â€œConsequently, a good number of our past recipients have overtimes testified to the fact that with the award they do self-evaluation every now and then to assure themselves that indeed they are living a life style that is consistent with the sanctity of the award.
â€œThis is highly so, because being mentally conscious and committed to the principles of integrity, automatically help us to avoid the practice of corruption. As a way of of keeping our recipients focus we get them involved in subsequent events as special guests. This gives them yet another opportunity to reinforce the spirit of integrity already building up in them.â€
According to them, â€œWe do not claim that our recipients are perfect people, rather, the award is intended to encourage those who have shown a good measure of discipline in their leadership responsibilities to at least keep the spirit going and improve on themselves.
â€œWeâ€™re proud to say categorically that our past recipients are our worthy Ambassadors and trophies.We are also proud to say that we are not in the business of Award Events for the giddy excitement of making money. Ours is a crusade, we are making a strong Statement with the award, that the Integrity is everything. It is our own way of contributing our quota to the developmental progress of our country, Nigeria.
â€œWeâ€™re truly and passionately committed to this vision, to us, itâ€™s a patriotic responsibility we have chosen to shoulder because we sincerely want to see the eventual emergence of a new nation of our dream.â€
Some past recipients of the award include, Professor Pat Utomi, His Excellency Jimi Agbaje, Hon Abike Dabiri, immediate past Inspector General of Police, Solomon Erase, Mr. Femi Adesina, Assistant Controller General of Customs, Commandant Charles Eporwei Edike, Dr Sam Aman, Hon Justice Adefope-Okojie, and Dr Joe Odumakin.
They said the Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade, who was one of the major recipients last year, is expected to grace this year event as Chairman. Also, distinguished Senator Murray Ben Bruce would deliver the keynote address, â€œLegislation with Integrity, The key Factor to Building a Virile Nationâ€. The political gladiator, former Governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, is expected to speak on the event Theme, Integrity is Everything.
NACJ said â€œThis year nomination list is very tight with the nationâ€™s top politicians, Business Movie, Nollywood Stars, and top entertainment personalities. This year event promises to be the media event of the decade.
â€œWeâ€™re well aware that the value of an Award is not in the Plaque, but the idea behind the Award and the purpose for which it is given.â€