On almost a daily basis, Nigerians are always awash with news of dishonesty, betrayal, fraud, irresponsibility, cruelty, and the breach of public trust, among others.
But last week, something from the extraordinary happened. The story of how one Nigerian Air Force (NAF) personnel, aircraftman (ACM) Bashir Umar, found and returned a parcel that contained 37,000 Euros to its owner, went viral and became a sensation.
ACM Bashir has earlier found the approximately N15 million on July 7, while on a routine patrol at the Hajj Camp Market of the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. Despite the money being worth his 20-year salary, the 24-year-old ACM decided to call the phone number on the parcel and hand over the package to its rightful owner immediately.
For this exemplary act of integrity, the NAF rewarded such a rare gem in its rank. Not only did Bashir become the first personnel of his rank to be flown with a NAF jet since the establishment of the Air Force, he was also decorated by none other than the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, with double promotion, from the rank of ACM to Corporal, in front of other high-ranking officials and his family at the NAF headquarters in Abuja.
Although many commended him on the social media for his actions, others condemned him for what they see as “gullibility” on his part (to return such a huge amount of money) and made his selfless deed into humorous jokes. Crazy right? But actually, those that mocked him only confirmed the problematic mindset of many Nigerians, especially the youth.
In the Nigeria of today, wrong has become normal, while normal has come to be seen as wrong, or even a crime in some instances. Ours is a society where honest people are seen as gullible folks, whose DNA carries genes for poverty, while fraudulent individuals are regarded as “smart” and fortunate.
This narrative harboured by a significant number of the population needs to be changed for the larger good of the people. And one way we could achieve this, in my opinion, is by celebrating and rewarding good deeds while also rejecting and calling out dubious deeds.
The inspiring story of Bashir makes me never lose hope whenever I feel like giving up on Nigerians, who today as shortcut-oriented individuals, seem to engage in all dubious acts in the name of that misguided ideology of “the end justifies the means”.
There is a lot we could learn from Bashir’s deed. The moral lesson is that honesty pays! We need to be hardworking and honest to achieve something in life. You cannot be lazy and fraudulent and expect you’ll be successful. It doesn’t work that way.
I guess he never imagined meeting the chief of Air Staff, but because of his honesty and good character, here he is today being decorated by the NAF’s highest officer.
But again, in a country where immoral ways are seen as “smartness”, the inspirational story of ACM Bashir and his unmatched honesty serves as a solemn reminder that, there is – and will always be some good guys in the room, no matter the rot.
Labaran Yusuf, Jos, Plateau state