Integrity is the virtue of being honest and firm in one’s moral principles. It has to do with the quality of having transparent (open) sense of moral standards on human relationships.
A man of integrity is a man who is not corrupt, such a man will not for the sake of money or any other advantage do what he knows to be wrong.
A student who has integrity will choose not to cheat in an examination even when he knows he will not be caught. He will choose not to tell lies in order to get more money even when no one will discover he is telling a lie.
A man of integrity is straightforward and honest in his relationship with others. He is trustworthy and disciplined. He can be trusted with public money that is to be used for the development of the community.
Integrity is necessary for the well-being and progress of the society and it promotes good values.
Attributes of Integrity
1) Probity: This refers to the quality of being completely honest in life and in all human endeavours or relationships. This involves showing transparency in handling public money, property and information.
A man of integrity must be honest and accountable for whatever task or duty that is given to him.
2) Honesty: This is the quality of being truthful, sincere and straightforward in one’s dealings with others. An honest person is one who always tells the truth, does not deceive, cheat, steal or hide vital facts from people that need them. He is highly principled, disciplined and cannot be easily influenced with money or appointment into a high position. An honest student will not be involved in examination malpractice or tell lies to his teacher to avoid being punished. Honest people are known for their honest communication with people. They are objective in their views or opinions on sensitive issues. They are never biased or afraid to speak the truth on any matter, whether on positive or negative behaviour. Honesty among the people brings good name and image to the country as it will attract foreign investors. Honest people are highly needed in our country because they encourage good relationships, mutual understanding and promote social harmony and peaceful coexistence in society.
3) Contentment: This means the ability to be satisfied with what one has at a given period of time. It is the feeling of happiness and satisfaction with Whatever one possesses, whether small or big. A contented person is relaxed, peaceful and positive.He shows these qualities in his relationship with others. He is never involved in idle talk, gossip, backbiting, or discussion of persons or character assassination. A contented person does not feel inferior to people higher than him, but rather works hard to attain his set goals and improve himself a lot. He is not into competitions with his peers but moves at his own pace.
4) Truthfulness: This refers to the ability or quality of a person to be real or sincere in his dealings with the members of society. A truthful person does not tell lies but will always tell the truth or give the correct report concerning any situation. Such a person is trustworthy and a man of honour. He is trusted and respected in society as a man of integrity and honesty. Truthfulness among people enhances good relationships, confidence and mutual trust. It brings about co-operation, growth, peace, and unity in the country. Students are encouraged to be truthful in whatever they are doing in the school and at home.
5) Fair play: This is the quality of being just and honest in one’s dealings with others. It is the fact of acting honestly in accordance with the rules and regulations of society. You are being fair to people if you give them what they deserve. In fair play, there is no room for partiality and favouritism. Things are done in the right way and at the right time without bias and prejudice. A fair person is honest in his act and actions and does things in an honourable manner and according to the laid down rules. He is responsible, sincere, trustworthy and reliable. He is respected in society, because he is never involved in corrupt practices. People with this unique virtue are needed in society, because when they are in leadership positions, there will be peace and progress in society.
6) Non-compromise of Principles: This is a situation where a man with principles cannot be easily influenced with money or any material object. He cannot succumb to pressure or threat to do the wrong thing or compromise on what is against his belief or societal values or norms. He is very strict in keeping to the rules guiding the conduct of people’s – behaviour and societal activities. His will-power guides whatever steps or decisions he takes in every matter. He puts public interests before his personal interest.
Examples of People of Integrity in Our Society, Past and Present heroes like:
- Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
- Mallam Aminu Kano.
- Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
- Dr. Akanu Ibiam.
- Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
- Alhaji Balarabe Musa.
- Prof. Wole Soyinka.
- Prof. Chinua Achebe.
- Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
- Prof. Ngozi Okonjo -Iwuala.
- Prof. Dora Akunyili.
- Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili.
International Figures or Statesmen
- Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
- Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia.
- Barack Obama of America.
Need for People of Integrity in Society
Every society whether small or large needs to have people of integrity. This is due to the fact of their numerous importance which among others include:
1) Community Development: Community development arises when people of a particular locality or area come together to identify, discuss and agree on any felt-need of their community. Such felt needs can be a project in the form of health centres, schools, market, pipe-borne water, roads, electricity, etc. Such projects or programmes usually require huge sums of money and which members of the community will contribute to its development.
These projects can be done only where people of integrity in the community handle the projects in terms of planning, raising of fund and execution. This means that the presence of people of integrity in any community ensures community development.
2) Award of Scholarships: Brilliant but financially handicapped students benefit from the charity of people of integrity who extend help to them without expecting financial or material reward from them. They send them to academic institutions like university and skills acquisition centres to acquire knowledge in different trades and crafts. They sponsor and pay all their fees for them.
3) Attraction of Personalities of their likes: People of integrity attract personalities of their likes who are friends, partners or contemporaries from other communities into their own locality for the purpose of supporting them financially and otherwise. During launching ceremonies or fund raising meetings, they can invite such personalities or friends to donate generously towards the provision of essential amenities which will stand as a legacy in society.
4) Peaceful Co-existence: People from different geographical, political, religious, and other backgrounds find communities blessed with people of integrity, a fertile environment for living. They can carry on transactions of any form of business since there is security of life and property. All human activities are carried out without bitterness and rancour. The presence of people of integrity in that environment or community ensures peace, law and order.
5) Growth and Development: Men of integrity in any society or country ensure sustained growth and development in all areas of life which brings about satisfaction in the life of members of such society.
6) Reference Points: Men of integrity are always regarded as reference points because of their rare qualities that make them to stand out from the crowd as good examples of people who are organized and well-behaved. The youth or young people see them as their role models and as mentors to emulate, imitate or copy.
7) Resource Persons: People of integrity can serve as teachers, lecturers or those who give talks in schools, workshops, seminars, etc to drive home issues that could be difficult to comprehend. They can speak on the bad effects of wrong behaviour among the youth and those that transmit such behaviour to them. These men of integrity, who have made it in life through honest and honourable ways, will be better examples for the youth to copy.
8) Custodians of Values: Men of integrity are needed in society, because they are custodians of societal values and norms. They are living examples or embodiments of our values because they live them out or they are seen in them. Such values like chastity before marriage, faithfulness in marriage, kindness, selflessness, justice, truth, avoidance of falsehood, protecting or defending the poor, the weak, and the needy, giving honour and respect to those in power and the elderly and avoiding giving and receiving bribes or kick-backs are all seen in people of integrity and must neither be allowed to die nor despised or looked down upon.
Consequences of Lack of Integrity
Societies or communities that lack people of integrity are likely to suffer these consequences:
- Unhealthy Living: There will be unhealthy living among the people. Fear, mistrust, bitterness, jealousy, greed, acrimony and other social vices will become the order of the day. These social menaces will be a set-back or draw-back to society.
- Lack of Sustained Growth: Without people of integrity, education will suffer as people may not get the quality of education they desire. The basic amenities, e.g. roads, water, electricity will also be lacking in society.
- Criminal Tendencies: When men of integrity are lacking in any society, social vices like child stealing, kidnapping, drug abuse, smuggling, car snatching, impersonation,forgery, falsification of documents, examination malpractice, murder, arson and so on will become the order of the day.
- Weak Institutions: Social institutions such as education, health, power, economy, law, etc will become ordinary structures that exist in name. This is because men of integrity are not found in the leadership positions of their social institutions. They are not functional and are merely shadows of the real thing.
- Ignorance, Diseases and Superstitious Beliefs: Societies without persons of integrity stand the risk of being infested with ignorance,disease and superstitious beliefs. These elements make members of society to live meaningless lives.
- Creation of Gaps: Lack of people of integrity creates gaps that can be exploited by few privileged local champions who cannot compete outside their rural environment. This situation can make the poor to be poorer and the rich to be richer.
- Unhealthy Competitions: Societies without persons of integrity always witness unhealthy competitions in human affairs such as positions, economic and other social activities.