Whence Nigeria`s Pockets of Ethical Island?
Ethics refer to principles of morality that guide human behavior. There is no known human society where behavior is unregulated and where people are allowed to behave as they wish. Ethics predates the coming of modern religions. Ethics is rooted in collective humanity.
Today, we can talk of consensus toward the emergence of collective global ethics in the realm of economics, political and culture. This is occurring in the context of profound diversity. But for such global ethics, international trade and globalization as a social force could not have flourished. Every country and individuals within them are expected to act in the consciousness of ethical considerations. Ethics may in fact be considered as the foundation of social and political transactions, the very platform for credible elections. Somehow, countries have come to be known for and are associated with some specific brand of ethical goods which may be regarded as their trade marks. Individuals and ethno-religious groups are known for specific behavioural dispositions with respect to their ethics. Individuals within society are also rated on the basis of being fair, dependable, fortnight or since among other desirable and distinctive social characteristics.
Countries are also rated along the same lines. Indeed every country must cultivate veritable reference points that must constitute its ethical strongholds. I have in mind here individuals and institutions that must act only in deference to what is good for the public rather than being motivated in their behaviour by 'what is in it for me' where the pursuit of self interest is the main driver of social behaviour, the concern for public good is readily compromised.
Ladies and gentlemen, Nigeria is today comparable to a sea of decay where its pockets of ethical Islands are under siege, otherwise, where are those individuals and institutions in our country today that radiate and resonate social trust, integrity, probity, dependability and concern for the public good. What I can discern in our society is a glut of decaying public institutions and triumphs of private empires. A moral tsunami has befallen Nigeria. The sun has indeed set over ethical and discourse in Nigeria. The moral threshold has not only become been weakened but it is simultaneously thinning out. The paradox is that yet, Nigeria is rich in a material sense but poor in an ethical sense. With such a profile, the prospect of credible elections is ominous. Nigerians have high expectations that INEC should be part of Nigeria's disappearing ethical islands. And we cannot do this without deciding to be 'rebels'. I urge you to please act rebelliously, and in defence of the public good during the conduct of next month's election. This is the only feasible pat to free, fair and credible elections.
BEING TEXT OF A SPEECH BY PROF. LAI OLURODE, NATIONAL COMMISSIONER, INEC AND CHAIR, BOARD OF THE ELECTORAL INSTITUTE, AT A WORKSHOP ON ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS OF ELECTIONS.