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National Ethics Policy to enhance values, integrity – Owasanoye

It would save the country from an erosion of ethics and the collapse of values and encourage citizens to put Nigeria above all else.

By Bridget Ikyado

Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has said that the National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP), was designed to enhance national values, integrity and tackle corruption.

The chairman made this known on Tuesday in Abuja during a joint stakeholders meeting on ‘National Ethics and Integrity in the Nigeria Public Service’, organised by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), in partnership with Accountability Lab.

Owasanoye presented a paper at the event, titled: ‘‘The General Overview on the National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP); Consequences, Management Templates.’’

He  said that the policy was developed by the commission in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary to the Governemnt of the Federation and National Orientation Agency (NOA).

The ICPC boss, who was represented  by Mr John Odeh, Assistant Director Public Enlightenment and Education, said the policy was in response to the many damaging effects of corruption in both public and private sectors,

He said the policy would help restore and revitalize the sectors.

Owasanoye said the ICPC had earlier developed a National Values Curriculum (NVC) for teaching of values in schools to young Nigerians.

The chairman added that the NEIP was developed on the basis of the curriculum, to entrench positive values in the society.

He said the policies’ fundamental principles were to obligate all Nigerians, and everyone who resides within the borders of Nigeria or who relates with the country, to uphold these core values.

Owasanoye explained that the violation of any of the principles were actionable by relevant government agencies both at the federal and state levels.

He added that any violation of the policy would be sanctioned through relevant laws and regulations, including the provisions of the Constitution.

He further said the policy was meant to strengthen efforts at positive national transformation and to help the country achieve its development goals.

“It would save the country from an erosion of ethics and the collapse of values and encourage citizens to put Nigeria above all else.

“It will help diminish the need for corruption as a survival strategy and enhance the survival of the weak and control the power of the strong”, he added.

He also said that the policy would “open up on ongoing dialogue as to how to refine behaviors to bring out the best in ourselves”.

He listed the seven core values of the policy as; Human Dignity, Voice and Participation, Patriotism, Personal
Responsibility, Integrity, National Unity and Professionalism.

He assured that the ICPC and its partners were working to ensure the implementation of the policy and step it down to various stakeholders including public servants, students, the private sector and all Nigerians.

“In line with the Work Plan of the policy, there would be wide stakeholders’ engagement on their expected roles in implementing the policy, and enlightenment on the Consequence Management template of the policy.

“The policy will also be stepped down to sub-national levels – states and LGAs.”

He said to achieve this and for its effectiveness, media parleys were held in Lagos and Abuja, and the policy had been simplified and translated to Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages.

He also said that zonal dialogues were held with stakeholders including the media, traditional rulers, religious leaders, youths and women, professional bodies, and private sector, among others.

Earlier, Mr Dasuki Arabi, Director-General, BPSR, said it was the responsibility of government to deliver services, protect citizens and define the relationship upon which the state exists.

According to him, the tools of realising government objectives and goals can only strive where the tenets of ethics and integrity are upheld.

“Therefore, the initiative to organise this workshop which is in tandem with the implementation phase of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP), is a welcome development,” he said.

Arabi said that the policy would assist to shift focus on “how to redefine our national history, taking into cognizance the low level of patriotism, lack of core values prevalent across all strata”.

He acknowledged that NEIP was necessitated by the quest of government to address the damaging challenges of corruption prevalent in the private and public sectors.

“Accordingly, the SGF office, ICPC and NOA worked assiduously to develop the policy document to foster national consciousness and cohesion through shared values.”

Arabi said the bureau partnered Accountability Lab and ICPC, as part of its mandate of conducting research on reform implementation efforts and presenting ‘best practice’ model to the entire public service.

He explained that the underlying principles of the reform was to nurture the public service as an institution free from
political bias, and address issues related to adequate pay, performance management, ethical standards and capacity development.

“Mores so, the Ethics and Compliance Division in the newly created Civil Service Transformation Department (Service Policies and Strategy Office of the OHSCF, was saddled with the responsibility to develop a framework to address the issue of uniform enforcement of Public Service Rules and Regulations.

“Today, the need to change these negative narratives in the public service has become inevitable, hence the need to acquaint public servants on the policy, is a welcome development.

“The distinctive feature of the policy is that it provides for sanctions and penalties against defaulters, while it also grants the citizens the right to seek for redress where the core values are infringed.’’

Also, Mr Friday Odeh, the Country Director, Accountability Lab, said the country must uphold ethics and integrity, especially in the public service and other sectors of life.

He recalled that five civil servants were celebrated in 2020 and given award for integrity and good conduct.

Odeh said that the 2021 award would focus on officials in the security, judiciary and procurement sectors.

He said Accountability Lab supports active citizens, responsible leaders and accountable institutions.

Odeh said the Lab was working to build accountability to support a world in which resources were used wisely, decisions benefit everyone fairly and people lead secure lives. (NAN)