Gawa Undi has refused to have a palace constructed for him by government because he had built one for himself.
Gawa Undi is a principled chief who has worked hard to put the interests of his subjects and of our country ahead of personal enrichment and comfort. His principles are more important than a new and comfortable palace or money.
Niccolo Machiavelli wrote, “A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.”There’s need for our chiefs to show our corrupt politicians that their traditional authority is no longer on sale to the highest bidder. It belongs to their subjects. No one can bribe an honest chief, but a bad chief would accept bribery.
No one can buy a chief who isn’t for sale.
We must urge all our chiefs to reject gain from bribery, unrighteous gifts as something utterly abhorring. This is a government that tries to bribe the public with the public’s money. And bribes are not offered in such a way that you can prove them, and in order to prove that you didn’t accept a bribe, you have to decline them.
One of the biggest curses from which our chiefs are suffering – we do not say that other leaders are free from it, but we think their condition is much worse – is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. Bribes and payoffs – by whatever name or rationale – are bad. And subjects are supposed to be the focal point of chiefs, not palaces, money?
By bribes, all good faith has been banished in our chiefs; by bribes our land is being given away by our chiefs; the traditional practices themselves are influenced by bribes, and soon, there will be an end of every modest restraint.
Our politicians seem to believe that all our chiefs have their price. The downfall of our traditional leadership system is the buying and selling of chiefs, bribery. It’s the norm.
Few chiefs in this country have virtue to withstand the highest bidder. We need chiefs who are honest, genuine, thoughtful and caring. Chiefs who value their privileges – palaces, cars, money – above their principles soon lose both. Comfort, wealth, built on selfish principles, is shame and guilt. There is a price for everything in life. Even what you receive freely has already been paid for by someone.
It is said that not every gift must you stretch your hands to take! Sometimes, just put your hands by your side and humbly and courageously say “thank you!”
In this life, we have to make many choices. Some are very important choices. Some are not. Many of our choices are between good and evil. The choices we make, however, determine, to a large extent, our happiness or our unhappiness, because we have to live with the consequences of our choices.
Good leaders say “no” to bribes. Anyone playing a role in leadership, and is not ready to do this is not a leader. It is a great mistake to suppose that bribing and corrupting chiefs, although it may be very convenient for gratifying the ambition or the vanity of individuals, have any great effect upon the fortunes or the power of politicians. Chiefs don’t own their subjects and their votes. And it is a great mistake to suppose that bribing and corrupting chiefs is a means by which power can either be obtained or retained.
We must beware of politicians who can do nothing without bribes, and those who want to do everything with bribes.
Having principled men and women as traditional, religious and political leaders is how we can protect ourselves from tyranny and corruption. It is usually expensive and lonely to be principled. Gawa Undi’s decision to reject government’s offer to build him a palace is rare in a country where many people in leadership – traditional, religious, political or otherwise – seem addicted to double standards – they have no problems taking a principled stand on a Monday, then switch firmly to the opposite principle on Tuesday if it is to their advantage. When you say no to wrong things, it opens up the space for the right things to come in.