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A World Ethos - A National Ethos

This past week, I had a unique opportunity to participate in the 2017 Humanistic Management Conference which was held at the Weltethos Institute at University of Tubingen, Germany. A presenter and panelist among several intellectuals from Academic institutions in North America and Europe. I sat there fascinated by the notion of having a World Ethics Institute established right there at the University through the generous financial support of KSG, the Foundation of Karl Schlecht, a billionaire entrepreneur. Discussions at the conference referenced the works and writings of Hans Kung, the renowned Catholic theologian and founder of the Global Ethic Project. According to Kung, there can be ‘No world peace without a fair global economy! No fair global economy without a Global Economic Ethic! No Global Economic Ethic without new approaches to business ethics!’ In thinking of how his statements apply to the current upheaval and agitations in Nigeria, here’s what I have been able to surmise.

“There can be no national peace without a fair domestic economy! No fair domestic economy without a domestic economic ethic! No domestic economic ethic without new approaches to government and business ethics!”

Nigeria is the most unethical society I have ever lived in and it could benefit immensely from having a few Institutes of Ethics across the nation. The newspapers are perpetually filled with sordid details of one scam or fraud or embezzlement day after day. Not to mention the horrendous experiences fellow entrepreneurs have gone through or are currently going through all in the bid to do business in Nigeria. And the most hostile dealings are with greedy civil servants who want to reap where they haven’t sown. Some might argue otherwise but like one of my Pastors said ‘the person with an experience is not at the mercy of the person with an argument’. I knew things had reached an untold LOW when one of the organizations I was in discussions with concerning empowering rural communities to transform water hyacinth looked me in the face and asked me to inflate the value of the proposal by a certain percentage. I was aghast but the man speaking to me wasn’t. He told me point blank “that’s the way we do business here”. I let him know I had no intention of doing that and walked away from that deal completely disgusted. This particular conversation was with the local affiliate of a transnational Corporation!

While we can’t change Nigeria from an unethical society into an ethical society overnight, as citizens we can each do our own part to have personal ethic dispositions guided by a moral code. Mr. Karl Schlecht, billionaire entrepreneur, has provided 5 guiding questions to guide our personal and professional decision making.

  1. Is it the truth?

  2. Am I honest? Before GOD and man?

  3. Is it fair to all concerned?

  4. Will it build friendship and goodwill?

  5. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

The sum of our positive individual efforts will add up and change the private and public sector landscape in Nigeria for good. That’s my prayer and that’s my belief.

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