Most of the time when we talk about national transformation, what we often hear about is, politics, economics, numbers, etc. But today I want us to talk about national transformation from the perspective of such everyday principle as truth and honesty.
Most people can’t seem to see the relationship between truth, honesty and national development. In the real sense though, truth and honesty are some of the most powerful principles to developing a nation.
“Let the people know the truth and the country is safe.” – Abraham Lincoln
Truth is a fundamental principle that is needed for any form of building or construction. So also is honesty. If you see any country that is advanced and developed today, it is because that society is fundamentally based on principles of truth and honesty.
“The truth is the only thing worth having, and, in a civilized life, like ours, where so many risks are removed, facing it is almost the only courageous thing left to do.” – E.V. Lucas
The key challenge facing us today is to successfully transmit into daily and everyday lifestyle the principle of truth and honesty. True development only comes when the principles of truth and honesty have been successfully transmitted into the daily and everyday lifestyle of the people. When truth and honesty is successfully intertwined into the business world of a nation, the result is a boost in commerce.
When the economy of a country is based fundamentally on the principles of truth and honesty, that nation experiences economic stability. If a country successfully translate the principles of truth and honesty into their social life, then that country experiences peace, tranquility and serenity.
Social crisis is minimized in such a society. There is a high level of understanding between different ethnicities of the land. Social issues and problems are resolved in a civilized manner.
It is possible to have a rather tranquil political atmosphere in any given nation. The secret is to put truth and honesty as the foundation of the political structure in that nation.
Ladies and gentlemen, I intend to proof to you in this write up, the economic and financial conversion that is actually attainable, thanks to this principle of truth and honesty. I wish to communicate to you the possibility of economic growth through honesty and truth. I also hope to be able to help you see how this principle could bring about healing and harmony in any nation.
Let’s start with the economy because that is one area that developing countries are always particular about. How can truth and honesty bring about economic prosperity?
Let me start my analysis with a story. I recently received a letter just a week before the just concluded presidential elections in Nigeria, from a young man whose name I will not mention here. He wrote me about his dilemma. He was coming from church when he discovered that one of the political parties had just pitched their tent in his neighborhood. He couldn’t pass by the blasting music and jubilation going on. He fell into the temptation of going to have a look at the happenings there, especially since he sensed that some of his Nollywood heroes were present and it was a good chance for him to have a look at them.
On getting there, this young man discovered that this was not just a jamboree of music, it was also a jamboree of largesse. Over his head, bags of rice and beans were been passed around. In all fairness to this young man, he actually wrote me to describe his dilemma, that day he did not take with him any of the largesse that were been distributed. He however confessed that he couldn’t sleep all night. The next day he too had to go and collect his own rice, beans and cash.
In his letter to me he was admitting that even though he knew what was right and that this particular party would not do anything good for the country, but he had an alibi or that is what he thought. He thought his actions were justified since if he didn’t take it, others were going to take it anyway.
Secondly he was in need, he really needed help. He needed the cash and food stuffs. Thirdly in his opinion everybody is corrupt in Nigeria anyway. That way, he managed to silent his conscience.
Dear readers, how many millions of Nigerians do you think actually act against their conscience on a daily basis. in their offices where the largesse come not in forms of rice, beans or sugar, but in form of millions of US dollars of Niger Delta oil.
What about in the general hospitals, where the money that is meant for patients, medications and equipment end up landing in foreign bank accounts. How many Nigerians think they have an alibi when they give bribes to the police men at the numerous police check points all over the nation?
How many people do you think tell themselves they have an alibi when the money that is to be used for road constructions are diverted into personal use and gains? How many universities could have been built, if not for people who believe they have an alibi?
Despite this pathetic story above, if you go to any gathering of Nigerians, everybody on daily basis thinks it is their duty to constantly condemn the corrupt politicians in the government for their corrupt practices. In the real sense however, the day to day corruption that is carried out everywhere in the country, from the streets to the offices are as detrimental to the nation as any other form of corruption.
This is a clear picture of the role of truth and honesty in transforming a nation. When truth and honesty is absent in the nation, it relates not just to the politicians. The young man who wrote me of his dilemma with the bags of rice, beans and sugar, was not looking at himself as being corrupt. But he surely thinks that the politicians are corrupt.
From this example alone, we see why national transformation is impossible, as long as ordinary citizens are as corrupt as the politicians in their daily lifestyle, the country will continue to suffer. I would not be surprised if the commuters who give bribes to police men on their way to their villages also think they are not corrupt, only the police men are corrupt. NO SIR!
A country cannot change, be transformed or developed as long as there is no truth and honesty as an everyday principle among the citizens of the nation. A sister recently told me of a story when she in the company of her Pastor, were rushing to church. They were stopped by a greedy looking police man who demanded for his “blessing’ for the day. The Pastor was the first to give justification for the bribe they gave out to the police. After all even the bible says “give to Caesar what is Caesars.” According to him there is no problem, it is scriptural.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters” ― Albert Einstein
One of the greatest indicators of how much truth and honesty is in a country, is easily seen by observing how people drive around the city. What is their attitude to the rules of road safety? What is their attitude towards other commuters? Do they try to beat the system by all means? Do they try to get their way by hook or by crook, or they follow the rules? That is also part of corruption!
Yet, most Nigerian drivers and commuters would not admit to the fact that they are part of the corruption in the nation. They would fight against the idea that they are corrupt. While in the real sense, they are corrupt because they don’t live by the principles of honesty and truth.
On the other hand, let me show you a picture of another country. In Switzerland and generally all over Europe, there is nothing to celebrate when a man brings to the police a purse or a bag of money that does not belong to him, which he found in a restaurant, store or in a café. That is regarded as the normal duty of a normal citizen.
The difference? Simple! Honesty and truth is part of the fabric of the European society. In most European countries, if you are been offered money, bags of food or things like that in exchange for your vote? That is regarded as corruption in the highest order. In which case both the giver and the taker would end up in prison. The difference? The culture of honesty and truth that is prevailing in the society.
If we in Nigeria and Africa generally are to experience a true national transformation, we must purposefully begin a campaign for national reorientation. There must be numerous movements championing the cause for truth and honesty in every aspect of our daily affairs.
“Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” Isa. 59: 14-15
A lot of our people like to talk about how Singapore went from the third world to a first world. Well at the bottom of Singapore’s miracle, lies the principle of truth and honesty. Let’s examine some examples of how the Singapore government enforced the principles of truth and honesty in their society.
For example in Singapore there is punishment for all kinds of things:
- If you are caught chewing gum, you are penalized. You pay an amount of $1000 dollars or a year in prison.
- If you cross the road in the wrong place, you are going to be penalized because you did not act by the truth. You pay a fine of $200 dollars.
- If you are found littering the place by throwing bottles or paper on the ground, you are either imprisoned or heavily fined $800 dollars.
- If you are caught spitting or defecating in public, you are heavily penalized with prison or a heavy fine.
- If you are caught throwing a cigarette butt, you would be penalized with similar punishment. $1000 dollars for first offender and $5000 dollars for repeated offender.
- If you are caught with illegal drugs, you are sentenced to death.
- Eating in public transportation or smoking at an outdoor bus stop incurs fines ranging from $500 – $1000 dollars.
- If you are caught vandalizing, like making graffiti. You are canned maximum of 24 strokes on your bare buttocks.
- If you use the toilet and do not flush it after yourself, you will be caned.
- If you walk about undressed or nude, even in your own house, you would be heavily penalized. If you hug in public without permission you would be penalized.
- If you criticize other religions, you are going to prison.
- If you tell lies, for example, introducing a stranger as your friend, it is considered deception and you go to jail.
- If you log into an internet connection that you have not paid for. It is considered harking and you have to pay for it. $5000 dollars.
- If you are caught in unlawful sexual relationship, 2 years imprisonment.
- Mutiny, discharge of firearm, treason, murder are punishable by death.
- Robbery is punishable by canning and prison.
- Driving under the influence is punishable by hefty fines and prison term.
- Piracy punishable by a fine of $1000 dollars
- Theft and shoplifting punishable by heavy fines.
- Racism attracts heavy penalties.
From all these points we see above, we can clearly see that the Singapore government believed solidly in the principle of truth and honesty. They did not hold back, but went all the way to enforce it in their society. I believe that without this kind of strict enforcement of penalties for any offense violating the principles of truth and honesty, Nigeria and Africa will not be able to move from our present state of underdevelopment into civilization.
Let me submit here that it is not the amount of money or natural resources a nation has that determines how civilized it would be. Singapore, Switzerland, Austria, and many of the European countries that we all admire today, don’t have one tenth of the natural resources that African countries have. Yet, because of the principles of truth and honesty, they have been able to build some of the most civilized societies in the modern world.
Let’s take for example Switzerland. A country without much natural resources, but well reputed for truth and integrity. As a result, they are now known as a country of banks. Why? Because as I said earlier, if anybody loses his suit case full of money anywhere in the country, everybody knows that the level of truth and honesty in the nation is so high that you would not lose your money. It shall be returned unto you. That reputation has gone before them for hundreds of years. As a result, even people who steal money from other countries wish to keep them in a safe place. Where? The answer – Switzerland!
Nigeria is a good testimony in that regard. A country with abundance of wealth, but because of lack of truth and integrity, the wealth are stolen. But the paradox of the whole thing is, this stolen wealth always find their way to nations with no apparent natural wealth, but with a high credit of degree of truth and honesty. The conclusion therefore is wealth will always find their way out of societies where truth and honesty are not established into the societies where there are principles of honesty and truth.
Almost on a weekly basis, we hear about Sani Abacha’s looted funds that are discovered either in Switzerland or Belgium or some other western countries. There are constant reports of foreign bank accounts of our politicians with stolen money in foreign countries. The story of Umaru Diko has become a reference point in our nation’s history.
Singapore is like an oasis in the desert of south East Asia. Without apparent natural resources. But a huge deposit of wealth in form of truth and honesty. The result – most of the wealth in the neighboring rich countries always end up in Singapore. Why? Because wealth will always find their way out of rich societies where there is no truth and honesty, into societies with a high degree of truth and honesty.
The truth therefore is that great nations become great not because of their amount of wealth and natural resources. Great nations become great thanks to their wealth of truth, honesty and other virtues. Wealth will always find a way of escaping from societies without an established system of truth and honesty, into societies that are well established in truth and honesty.
I hope that mine would not remain an unheeded voice of one crying in the wilderness. It is my prayer that our newly elected Nigerian government would heed to this voice of conscience and start a massive crusade and movement to establish truth, honesty and other virtues in our society.
I also pray that other nations in the African continent and in other developing parts of the world, would hear this cry and give their people a gift of development and civilization through the establishment of principles of truth and honesty.
By Pastor Sunday Adelaja