Last week, two security guards at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, exhibited what has now become in the country, an uncommon act of honesty. Messrs Achi Daniel and Francis Emepueaku, in the course of performing their daily duties, found and returned a bag containing US dollars, jewelries and other valuables to its owner. It was gathered that after they found the bag, they took it to their supervisor who then embarked on a search for its owner. And after the owner arrived at the airport, he confirmed that nothing was missing from the bag. He also offered a reward to the security personnel who declined, saying they were merely doing their job.
One of the men, Daniel, said: “Inside the bag, we saw a mobile phone, jewellery and huge amount of money in dollars and several other documents. At that point, I went straight to the manager’s office, who now put a call through to somebody in Atlanta, Georgia, and the person happened to be the daughter of the owner of the bag. If the money was in multi-millions of foreign currencies, I would still have returned it…”
The security guard added that it was not his first time of returning money in foreign currencies to their rightful owners. He said though he was mocked by some persons, who felt he acted stupidly, he was not deterred.
Also, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Saleh Dunoma, said that several other related cases had been recorded at the nation’s airports.
He said that the duo would “forever be remembered in the annals of the industry as role models, reference points, shining lights and good ambassadors. Their employers, Halogen Securities, later rewarded them with N250,000 each. President Muhammadu Buhari also commended them for the gesture.
We join our voices with those of other Nigerians in commending these men who have shown that there are still honest men among us. They distinguished themselves by not going by the dictum, ‘if you can’t beat them, you join them’. It is important to note that these men did not only make us proud locally but also before the international community which has read so much about the level of corruption in Nigeria.
This singular act will cause foreign nationals to have confidence in the country and prompt them to invest, knowing that not all Nigerians are criminals and that their money will be safe. The security outfit, their employers, did well by rewarding them, but we also urge the president to consider them for national honours to further encourage others and to make young people in the country realise that indeed honesty pays.
It is indeed a wakeup call to all Nigerians, to abide by the ethics of their professions and to not do anything that runs contrary. Also, this act cannot be looked at in isolation if indeed we are serious about fighting corruption. The reason there is so much infrastructural decay; poor health care, schools and roads, is largely because some people who were entrusted with public funds took what does not belong to them. When people inflate contact sums among other things; it amounts to taking what does not belong to them. So this lesson is not for the common man alone, but for people in positions of authority.
If the security guards who are not so rich can do such a thing how much more people who are already privileged? Workers in both the public and private sectors should have a rethink and understand that each time funds are misappropriated or a project sum is inflated, they are taking something that does not belong to them and there are consequences just as there are rewards for being upright. With more people like these two security personnel, we can indeed eradicate corruption from this country.