The annual Christopher Kolade lecture series has over the years addressed pertinent issues as it relates to integrity in business, Ethics & Governance in both the Private and Public sectors and sought proactive solutions to these issues.
This year, the 8th Christopher Kolade lecture sought to examine how integrity impacts on business resilience in time of crisis as we have seen in the last seven months from the Covid-19 pandemic and the more recent nationwide protest #EndSars. The following speakers were part of the conversation, addressing the issues from different perspectives.
Speakers at the 8th Christopher Kolade lecture
- Dr. Christopher Kolade CON – Honoree
- Mr. David McClean – Principal, Business and Government Ethics International
- Mrs. Ibukun Awosika – Chair, Governing Board, Integrity Organization
- Mr. Frank Aigbogun – Publisher, Business Day Newspaper
- Mr. Osaro Eghobamien – Vice Chair, Governing Board, Integrity Organization
- Mr. Soji Apampa – CEO, Integrity Organization
Mr. Eghobamien in his opening remarks mentioned that the choice of theme for each Christopher Kolade lecture is fashioned around pertinent issues in the socio-political/economic space as it pertains to upholding integrity in spite of evident challenges. While economies around the world are still trying to grapple with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation is compounded in Nigeria with the #EndSARS protest resulting in the destruction of both private and public assets. This brings to the fore a possibility that businesses might be compelled to cut corners. Hence the relevance of the theme for the 8th Christopher Kolade lecture.
Mr. Apampa in his remarks reiterated the reason for naming the lecture series in Christopher Kolade’s name as a symbol to represent his rare attributes of integrity in Business especially in Nigeria. Dr. Kolade has over the years become a mentor to many who would like to follow his example in entrenching integrity in their businesses.
In the same vein, he spoke about the Seven principles of the National Ethics Policy which was launched in celebration of the nation’s 60th Independence anniversary. He listed the values as shown below:
- Human Dignity
- Personal responsibility
- National Unity
He linked the values as shown above to the manner the Government handled the #EndSars crisis and wondered who had upheld the values of the National Ethics Policy more between the Government and the citizens. His recommendation is that Government should proactively engage the citizens on issues of concern to them rather than allow it to fester and degenerate to a crisis. In summary, both the Government and citizens should ensure to uphold the tenets of integrity regardless of the circumstances.
The honoree- Dr. Kolade in his remarks stated that while integrity is good as a concept on its own, it is more important to model integrity in one’s lifestyle. In this way, people will not be swayed by circumstances or situations to want to act otherwise. He summarized his thoughts by saying that everyone should be committed and act with moral courage in ensuring that people in their sphere of influence can trust their communication, which will eventually strengthen their own credibility.
Dr. McClean in his presentation was emphatic that indeed Integrity, honesty, truthfulness, transparency and standards should always matter regardless of the circumstances. Whether the nation is at peace or war, or whether your business is flourishing or struggling, the ideals of integrity should not be sacrificed on the altar of revenue generation.
He stated that the notion of putting integrity and ethics on pause is quite problematic; the damage might not be obvious initially but ultimately would lead to bigger issues such as tarnished reputations, government fines and penalties, broken supply chains and employee defections. On the organizational level, there is the need to re-enforce the commitment to the values of Integrity to members of the organisation consistently. He advised that there was the need to incorporate an ethics and integrity discourse into organizational communications throughout the year to ensure that people are always abreast of the values and not wait until a time of crisis to start the discourse. You can download a copy of Dr. McClean’s presentation below:
Mr. Aigbogun remarked that the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the risk of fraud & unethical behavior or conduct in business especially with technological advancement, which has made the pace even faster. He mentioned that integrity is a journey and you need to be ready to go the long haul by being true to yourself and others. There is the need to know the cost because it sometimes comes with pressure and pain in some instances. There needs to be a bottom up approach to the issues of integrity with the family setting, faith based organizations, local government and the state taking a lead.
Mrs. Awosika spoke passionately about integrity being a journey and a personal decision to commit to what integrity represents regardless of the situation. No one should wait till a time of crisis to define what your values are as the pressure of the situation might define your choices and it might not necessarily be based on your values. Integrity is always tested during a crisis as seen in the situation of the nation in the last couple of weeks. Integrity needs to be earned in advance of a crisis and based on track record that you had kept your word in the past and so you are likely to do so again. Ultimately, there would be more opportunities and more people willing to do business with you if you have earned their trust over-time. We need to have both top-down and bottom-up approaches to the issues of integrity. There is the need to start building the next generation with the right mind set and re-enforcing the values in the family setting. In addition there is an urgent need for a support system for those who have been called to occupy public offices.
Conclusions from the 8th Christopher Kolade Lecture
Dr. Kolade spoke about the three pillars of integrity
- 1. Values – The ideals of integrity
- 2. Standards – what is accepted as best practice
- 3. Discipline – Ability to withstand the pressures and follow your values
There is the need for us to uphold the values we have been taught from the family setting and have the strength to withstand the pressure and follow what has been accepted as best practice. The issue of training cannot be over-emphasized for individuals who would be called up to occupy leadership positions both in the private and public sphere. He reiterated the need that nation building would require joint efforts from all to ensure that we have a nation where peace and justice reigns.
Statistics on Attendance & Participation
- Registered participants: 298
- Attendance: 124