Core Values of Accountability

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

As good stewards, accountability is of utmost importance to us. Some Church zones, stations, and parishes have bitter stories about the challenges of accounting. When people change offices, for instance, some Church officials leave their posts with empty treasuries; some of such officials leave without handing over financial proceeds of their organizations; while some of such officials take forever to prepare their handover; they continue telling cock and bull stories until such monies become bad debts.

As a matter of fact, there are uncountable of told and untold stories of how Church monies meant for holy, religious projects end up serving the egoistic and insatiable personal needs of their holders rather than the holy purpose for which such monies were raised. For people to be accountable, even in Church circles, there are some core values necessary to support such a holy act. One of such values is truthfulness.

Truthfulness: is to be truthful; that is, to say the truth. To say the truth may be an uphill task because some people believe that truth is from perspectives. You remember the story of the blind men who tried to describe the elephant. Some of them said the elephant is all tail; some others said it is all foot; and yet others said it is all ear, and so on.

In fact, it was even one tough issue Jesus was confronted with during his crucifixion ordeal. You remember the conversation between him and Pilate when he was asked: "what is the truth?" (John 18: 37/38). Both ancient and contemporary philosophers and theologians have tried to answer that question about what the truth is. Yet, it is relevant even at our own time.

The Correspondence theorists, whom St Thomas Aquinas was one of, in trying to provide answers to the question of truth, related it to knowledge. From their understanding, truth for St Thomas is: "veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus". In other words, truth is the equation of things or the correspondence of things and the intellect; or better put, "a judgment is said to be true when it conforms to the external reality".

If we understand truth from this perspective, we understand that what we say to be true must correspond to what is on the ground. This is to say that what an outgoing official says he/she is handing over to the incoming official must correspond to what is reality. The handover note cannot say there is one naira in the purse, but the money is not handed over. It cannot say that there is no money when in reality there is some money.

When we are truthful, we state the reality as it is. When we are truthful, accountability becomes a lot easy for us because truthfulness is one of the core values that engender accountability. Jesus teaches us to say "yes" when it is yes, and to say "no" when it is no (Matthew 5: 37) because Satan is the father of all liars (John 8: 44). If we are honest persons, and say the truth, we have definite chances of being accountable persons. Let us become honest to be more accountable.

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