“Integrity has been relegated as an insignificant requirement in a world of immediate gratification,” the Chairman of Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Angelique Weeks, said over the weekend.
Addressing the 86th Founders Day audience at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) last Saturday, Ms. Weeks spoke of the urgent need for Liberians, irrespective of status, to maintain integrity, in order to minimize the high level of gratuity seeking in society.
She said after 10 years of sustaining peace, Liberians have succeeded in putting their lives back together and reintegrating the country into the comity of nations.
But there remains a serious element that continues to derail and undermine the collective efforts being made to regain the sanctity of trustworthiness and credibility not only at home but also abroad, Weeks contended.
The issue of graft has clouded our national effort to enhance a system of financial accountability and tainted the country’s record of fiscal discipline, she charged.
Saturday’s well-attended ceremony was held under the theme, “Working for Her Interest and Good.”
The LTA Chairperson, however, acknowledged that the government has not been sitting idly by while corruption eats at the fabric of the Liberian society. GOL, she said, has set up control mechanisms by revitalizing and establishing “integrity institutions” such as the General Auditing Commission, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, the Public Procurement and Concessions Commissions, and the Governance Commission, among others.
She spoke on the topic, “Promoting and Encouraging Integrity in our Youth: A Positive Approach to Fighting Corruption.”
“I believe that how one lives is based on the set of values you establish, which determine your thoughts, actions, and choices. In one word those values determine your integrity.”
Some scholars define integrity as choosing one’s thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain, Ms. Weeks explained.
“Integrity means being true to ourselves and being honest, upright, and decent in our dealings with others. When we are guided by integrity, our thoughts and words are in line with each other; our actions align with our principles. Our conduct speaks for us, more eloquently than words ever could. It becomes the basis for both reputation and self-respect.”
“I am convinced,” the LTA Boss continued, “that although the battle against corruption will continue, we are more likely to achieve more positive results by focusing instead on promoting and encouraging integrity.”
“When I reflect on Founders Day at BWI, what comes to my mind immediately, is the great philanthropic energy that gave birth to this sprawling 1,000 acre campus, the passionate vision which fueled the early years, attracting students from across West Africa and faculty from all over the world to this bastion of historical, vocational, learning.”
The Booker Washington Agricultural and Industrial Institute (BWI) was founded in June 1929 when its first principal, an American named James Longstreet Sibley, opened the school’s doors in Kakata in what is now known as Margibi County. But shortly thereafter, during that same month, Mr. Sibley became afflicted with yellow fever, for which at the time there was no cure. In 48 hours he died. But he willed all his earthly possessions to BWI and asked that his remains be buried on the campus.
Among those considered the founders was President Charles D.B. King who during a visit to the USA in 1921 visited Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. He later said if it were possible to transfer Tuskegee to Liberia that would be his wish.
Another founder, according to Kenneth Y. Best in his book “The BWI Story,” was Olivia Phelps Stokes, an American philanthropist, who gave the first US$100,000 for the founding of the school. A third founder was President W.V.S. Tubman who, according to “The BWI Story”, pushed through a reluctant Liberian Senate the bill for the establishment of the School.
The great American educator Booker T. Washington, who founded Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), the institution which inspired President King’s vision, is also considered one of BWI’s founders.
Present at the occasion were several eminent BWI graduates, including Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan (Class of 1989, his classmate, Mr. Kennedy Gee, president and CEO of Chicago Global Health Alliance, which works to improve healthcare systems in the USA in Liberia; and two Commissioners of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority, who accompanied their boss, Ms. Weeks, to the occasion—Mr. Harry Yuan (Class of 1962) and Henry Benson. Both of them are engineers.
Events marking the anniversary were kicked off on Friday with all-day sporting activities on the campus, during which the Foxes of College of West Africa took on the 86-year-old Tigers of BWI.