How Do You Define Integrity?

By Amarachi Okpunobi

I returned back to school in May after first semester exams. I had called my roommate, Sandra to help me check the score board for my result prior to my coming . But Sandra vehemently insisted that my result was going to be a surprise.

“Your result will shock you”, Sandra had jokingly told me. Initially, I had thought it was mere say but really, my result shocked me.

I entered the school on Sunday evening, without much hesitation, and quickly went to the score board. I moved my eyes horizontally and vertically till I found my Registration number. Then, I slowly but anxiously checked my scores for all the courses we offered till the last one. My face was radiating with smiles till I came to the last course. There, I met the surprise Sandra had prophesied to me days back.

I failed Information and Communication Technology, ICT. I immediately looked at Sandra who was standing beside me hands akinbo and smiling sheepishly, then back to the score sheet. I needed an explanation and couldn’t just absorb the shock. I demanded some answers from her as if she was the school management or rather the lecturer that taught ICT.

Hot tears fell from my eyes to my feet. Sandra held me as we went back to the hostel. I wished someone could tell me it was untrue. Through out the day, I cried sorrowfully in my room and prayed that by morning the result would be changed.

I knew I wasn’t an all excellent student but failing a course such as ICT was what I never dreamt of or imagined neither had having a carry over in first year came across my mind for even a second. Of course, no body in his or her right senses would pray for failure . That night, my pillow was soaked with tears. I isolated myself in my room. I knew that I was not a failure. I spent hours, days, I had sleepless nights preparing for my exams. I did the best I could, maybe my best wasn’t enough, maybe I never prepared well as I had thought.

I laid on my bed waiting for the morning to come and it seemed like God had refused the hands of time to tick. Eventually, it was morning. The hostel became rowdy with students preparing to go to church. My head was aching, probably due to the restlessness I had in the night and I was tired too. I laid still on my bed looking at the white roof, the stagnant fan that hung there and the white bulb. I began to remember those days while at a tender age when the National Electricity Power Authority, NEPA, would give power. Once the bulb shines light, almost all the kids in the neighborhood would unanimously chorus ‘up NEPA’ with much excitement in their voices but disappointedly, within few minutes one would here ‘ewoo oku’. I was travelling in history till Sandra woke up.

“You aren’t going to church today?”, She had asked.

I shook my head side ways insinuating no to her question. She looked at me pitifully, then tried consoling me and tears began to fall from my cheeks again. Goose pimples filled my skin as I cried. My temperature was getting high and I was filling cold too. With the help of Sandra, I took breakfast and some drugs which helped me sleep back to wake up with at least the normal body temperature but a tired body.

Minutes later, I decided to reach out to my ICT lecturer. Fortunately, he picked my call and I initiated a discussion. At the middle of the discussion, I had to let the dog out of the bag. Initially, the lecturer denied me failing his course or even any of the student. His voice echoed on the phone as he proclaimed that his course was a success for all. I became inquisitive and demanded to see my script by Monday which was when he decided to check his score sheet and get back to me.

Few minutes later he called back. “I just checked your scores, it’s 84 not 46. That must have been a mistake”.

I curiously asked if it would be reflected and he said definitely, it would.

At this point, I felt super relieved. “I knew I couldnt fail ICT”, I said to myself with so much pride. I began to notice the cool breeze that ventilated my room through the window and the bright sunlight that gave rays of hope.

Monday came and I met my lecturer. He showed me his score sheet in which my Registration number had 84 as it’s total. He said he would meet the school authority to reflect the correction. My joy was heightened.

Hours later, he sent for me in his office. I walked briskly with mixed feelings. There he sat with other lecturers, male and female.

“I am sorry, you will have to resit for my course. I am really sorry the mistake can’t be corrected anymore”, he said.

I couldn’t comprehend what he meant. I heard myself say, “Sir, I don’t understand please”. He recited the lines again like he had memorized them. I couldn’t believe it, I left his office and cried my eyes out. Came back, and suggested that I write to the Provost.

Even if you write to the Provost, they will only end up blaming me for the mistake and at the end deceive you of correcting your result but nothing will be done about it.

After I sat for the exam, same day I met the Dean of studies. I narrated and discussed my issue with him. His reply is what has left me thinking till today if the word intergrity still exist in our dictionary.

“We are aware that such a thing happened but you, see, we can’t risk changing anything in that result because of you. We had actually wanted to keep the truth from you but since the lecturer had told you, we’ll still if he will continue to be a staff of this school or not. If we had corrected the mistake, what do you think the public will think of the school, the government too. Don’t you know we’ll be marked as liars and it will cause a big problem for us. I still want to thank you for handling the case with such a great sense of maturity because if you had not sat for the exam, it would have created a bigger problem for us and the council”.

At this point, I bowed my head in shame. What has our society turned into? I am talking about unveiling the truth and justice and the Dean had the guts, to talk about protecting the name of the school. He had the nerve to discuss personality and prestige to the detriment of my future. He sat down on the chair of lies and office of deceit to bury the truth. I wondered if he thought of the pain they caused me. He then continued.

“I hope you don’t go about telling stories about this? I know you’re a Christian and I don’t want you to go about telling your mates what had happened to your result. You know this is a school environment, and false stories can be easily cooked which will cause the school a great harm”.

I couldn’t endure it any longer, so I interrupted him and somehow ended the discussion. I left his office in disgust as I had watched him bury his professional integrity in shame. At that moment, I realized that our society was more corrupt than I had ever thought.

Dear reader, how do you define integrity? Do you become immoral at the slightest change of events? Do you protect your ‘name’ or the truth? Do you also lie to the detriment of justice to save your shameful prestige?

Wikipedia said “Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.

Believe you me, dear reader, if we do not resurrect the trueour integrity we’ve buried. I do not see our society getting any better and our fight for corruption and injustice is a failed battle.