The Accountability Lab Nigeria has honoured five Nigerians for their transparency and greater participation in governance across the country.
The five Nigerians – The officials include school teacher, Kacheilom Betram Roberts-Ndukwe; police officer, CSP Francis Erhabor; university lecturer, Tina Iirmdu; Head of ICT, Christian Ahiauzu and NAFDAC Assistant Director, Tani Ali Nimlan – were honoured at the 2019 Integrity Icon Summit that held at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Center in Abuja on Monday.
The five Integrity Icons unveiled in 2019 took to the stage to share their stories on the challenges they faced while choosing to remain people of integrity, thanking Accountability Lab for the opportunity to let their stories be heard, and publicising their intent to inspire a new generation of Nigerians towards maintaining accountability and integrity in their endeavours.
The event was hosted in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Luminate group, and the Embassy of Sweden.
According to the organisers, the event was held to generate positive discussions around providing solutions to issues of accountability in Nigeria; most notably by highlighting the efforts of five outstanding public officers discovered through open public nominations.
In his goodwill address Ambassador of Sweden to Nigeria, Carl-Michael Gräns described integrity and transparency as the two strong pillars that democracy relies on to survive.
He expressed his support for the Integrity Icon program and the transparency of the process, urging the audience to build on this innovation.
“The issues of transparency are not for civil servants alone.
“Government ministries and agencies, civil society organisations, businesses, private sectors and diplomatic communities must continue to strengthen human rights and push for equality, openness and freedom,” he said.
While giving his keynote speech, Dr Joe Abah, Country Director of DAI Nigeria, described people aiming for Integrity in Nigeria as swimming against the tide.
He said, “Very few people that swim against the tide make it to safety.
“However, some swimmers show that consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles that are the hallmarks of integrity.”
He identified the challenges of corruption in the public and private sectors, identifying discretion, conflict of interest and a lack of compliance with statutory regulations, which he said he refused to tolerate at DAI.
“Let us encourage the few that have the courage and the strength to swim against that tide. Their lives and actions encourage all of us that, despite the challenges, it is possible to live a life of honesty and strong moral and ethical principles and values,” Dr Abah added.
Acclaimed Brazilian author Claudia Wallin gave a presentation on her book, “Sweden: The Untold Story”, explaining the historical context that led to the emergence of the nation of Sweden as one of the most transparent and least corrupt countries in the world. She depicted the frugal lifestyle of public servants in Sweden with a series of enlightening videos. She explained: “The point of this (presentation) is not to show the Swedish people as extraordinary but to show that we have had our own struggles with integrity to overcome.”
She expanded her study of the Swedish model of government and how it led to stability and transparency.
The event also saw enlightening and solution-driven dialogue in the form of two group sessions.
The first was a panel discussion on “Media as a tool for making governance work through positive messaging”, which was moderated by PRIMORG Executive Director, Agbonsuremi Okhiria.
Following this was a group session on “Building strong institutions”, which featured talks from citizens who had performed unique acts of integrity in the past year, returning large sums of money by resisting temptation, despite harsh economic situations.
Some of them include Keith Mali Chung, a cryptocurrency expert who returned $80,000 worth of Bitcoin transferred to him in error and Sunny Anderson Osiebe, who returned 98 million naira mistakenly transferred to his bank account at a time that he was in dire need of funds.