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Fashola Hosts Youth Integrity Camp, Canvasses Integrity As Viable Foundation For National Development
• Says integrity is crucial to elections, democracy, development

Sep 25, 2013 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Wednesday hosted participants in the Regional Youth Integrity Camp drawn from across countries of the West African sub-region canvassing integrity as the only viable foundation for national development and prosperity.

The Regional Youth Integrity Camp, an initiative of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC) aims at grooming youth leaders for higher responsibilities in the future through the exchange of knowledge, tools and practical idea, to participate actively in governments, fight corruption and imbibe accountability, and transparency.

Addressing the Youth from Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, Governor Fashola described integrity as that moral value which stands out a man as one to be trusted and on whom other people could repose confidence.

According to the Governor, Integrity is the value of a person's word, the value of his conduct, his dependability and this determines the extent to which people can vouch for him and what they can say even while he is not present. "It is as true of a man as it is of a nation", he said.

The Governor, who lamented the challenge of integrity in the African Continent and especially the West African sub-region, expressed dismay that the stories coming out of the Continent and the sub-region are not palatable.

He declared, "the rhetoric coming out of our Continent is not the best at this moment and I think we are all agreed on that. The stories coming out of our Continent and our sub-region, the ECOWAS sub-region, is not the very best at this time. It is either a story of poverty or a story of violence or a story of lack of tolerance or a story of our inability to play by the rules that we set".

"That is why, for instance, elections are still acrimonious across our region. Every election must be contested in court", the Governor said adding that it is there that the connection between the subject of the interaction and the possibilities for a better future could be made.

Governor Fashola urged everyone to ponder on the import of the word 'integfrity', asking, "Have we focused sufficiently on the ordinary and simple meaning of that word? Who has checked the dictionary, as you participate in this regional integration about the real reason why we are integrating?".

"For me, the question to ask is; are we dependable? Are Africans dependable people? Are West African people dependable people? Are Nigerians, Ghanaians, Sierra Leonians and so on dependable people? Can we be relied upon? That is one facet of integrity. And if we cross that hurdle, perhaps, we can begin to talk about the value of our comments. Does our word have value? If we make a promise, do we keep it?", he further asked.

The Governor stressed that when circumstances that informed a promise changes, integrity is shown when the one that made such promise "honestly comes forward to notify the other party that the commitment he made yesterday was informed by so and so and now they have altered radically and he would want to change the promise".

Raising other elements that account for integrity or otherwise of a people, the Governor continued, "When we submit ourselves to a test and we lose, are we ready to accept that we have been fairly defeated and willing to try again? Or must we spoil the victory of the other party by failing to recognize that victory, by saying and pretending, in fact, that we won and mobilizing people to start dancing behind us when inside us we know we lost?"

"These are questions of integrity and they relate to elections and therefore democracy and therefore development because they follow in that order. Are we ready to accept when we have been fairly defeated and to move forward? Because in elections, it does not mean that the order party that won is better. It only means that that is the choice of the majority of the people at that time; that is who to go with", he said.

Making an analogy with Sports to buttress his point, Governor Fashola said the fact that 22 people are in a field contesting vigorously to win a match before a crowd of spectators, calls for integrity on the part of the match officials to ensure that rules of the game were followed and the winner wins fairly.

Noting that looking across the major football platforms in the world today, Europe, America etc, it is difficult really to find a team where no African is represented in that club, the Governor asked, however, "When the European Championships are being played at the European level, when the World Cup is being played, how many Africans do you see as referees, how many of them do you see as assistant referees?"

"These are the issues relating to integrity. Because when 22 people are there in the field to battle as if the world will come to an end over a piece of leather and there are over 50,000 people watching with passion, you can't have one person decide the match for them, they must decide t by themselves", he said.

The Governor, however, noted that the presence of integrity does not overlook the fact that we are human adding, "Your sight can be bad and the ball can pass the line and you don't see it. But everybody will say, certainly you did not see it, if you had seen it you would have made that admission and that is where integrity comes in".

"All of us that celebrate Mandela today, did we know him 60 years ago? But he has become the moral icon of our time because his word has value. That really is what ultimately endures in every man. It is not how much money you have. That is what follows you through life", the Governor said.

Thanking the ICPC for what he described as "this very strong and bold initiative of Regional Youth Integration" Governor Fashola declared, "That is what I see this to be and it deserves all our commendation. The more of those kinds of qualities that we imbibe the less work that organizations like the ICPC will have to do. The less stress that they will have, the more respect we will get as a people, the more opportunities we will also have for prosperity".

He called for a better interaction among people of the sub-region adding, "The opportunity for growth, for prosperity, the very rich human capital that exists within our countries, if we open up and talk to one another, do business with one another, work with one another, I think we will gain more by looking inwards than by looking outwards".

The Governor's address which drew intermittent applause from the participants was followed by a robust interactive session with leaders of each participating country asking questions on various issues relating to leadership, integrity and development.

Earlier in her welcome address, the leader of the delegation, Mrs. Rashidat Adunni Okoduwa, said the Camp would establish a network of the youths as a vehicle for strengthening good governance and activism in the Anglophone sub-region.

Mrs. Okoduwa, who said the Camp was the first of such Regional Integration session in the sub-region added that the visit, apart from affording them the opportunity to pay traditional courtesies, the organizers also intended to utilize the visit "to enable the participants acquaint themselves with the remarkable achievements of His Excellency's administration in the last 2,300 days".

Also present at the visit of the Youth Integrity Camp led by the ICPC Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Rashidat Adunni Okodua, were the Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Wale Ahmed, his Information and Strategy counterpart, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba and the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule among other top government functionaries as well as officials of the Regional Youth Integrity Camp.


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