In a deliberate move to address the decline of national values, the federal government and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences initiated the National Ethics and Integrity Policy as a National Action Plan to close the gap in our quest for reclaiming our lost ethical and integrity values, writes YEMISI IZUORA
Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation in May 2020 in his FORWARD NOTE, on the National Ethics and Integrity Policy initiative stated that trust in Governance in Nigeria has over the years been eroded by high level corruption, characterized by lack of transparency, accountability, non-adherence to ethical and professional standards, especially in the public sector as witnessed in past administrations.
He quoted President Muhammadu Buhari as saying that, “If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”
Buhari, has given his administration the onerous task of dealing with corruption and corrupt practices in both public and private sectors of the economy.
Indeed and truthfully in fairness, given the determination of the current administration, the scenario almost began to change for Nigeria, as the Buhari administration’s efforts in improving transparency and accountability mechanisms in government started gaining ground.
He set the ball rolling with the vigorous implementation of the e-government platforms of Treasury Single Account(TSA), Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS); enforcement of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and its integration with other identity management platforms like the National Identity Number (NIN); Whistle- Blowing Policy, enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, signing up to the OpenGovernmentPartnership; Open Government Partnership, introduction of the Open Treasury Portal among others.
This policy certainly seem bring every citizen to take responsibility and embrace the path to fulfillment of good governance.
The National Ethics and Integrity Policy among right thinking Nigerians is necessary to strengthen efforts at positive national transformation.
This is believed to be possible if all citizens and those who relate with Nigeria imbibe and embody these core values.
Those who formulated the policy are of the opinion that the country can reach national development goals when we reframe the meaning of the national purpose and adopt frames of mind, attitudes, behaviors, choices and actions based on the demands of national core values.
The call for a national ethics and integrity policy is based on what we believe to be an invitation to save a country from what is generally lamented to be an erosion of ethics from national life and the general collapse of an ethical culture nationwide. The crisis of ethics we refer to here concerns the widespread neglect of core values, where Nigerians either refuse to allow these to regulate national life in the public interest, rather than just isolated private interests, or that Nigerians are blunted to the impact that values can have to promote life at all levels.
The National Ethics and Integrity Policy in other words is urging all citizens to put Nigeria above all else and to allow the core values we all hold in common to inspire our commitments and efforts.
However, there are those who see corruption as a survival rather than an ethical issue because corruption seems central to survival but by supporting the enthronement of ethical values and higher-level accountability for those saddled with governance on the one hand and citizens on the other hand, new possibilities emerge and the impact of corruption to existential reality will diminish.
The practical benefit will be that by letting go of corruption in exchange for ethics and integrity we enhance the survival of the weak and control the power of the strong.
Therefore, this policy framework is expected to open up more creative, intensive, meaningful, and fruitful insights into how our national life can be improved, through sustained and courageous pursuit and implementation of national core values. Ultimately, this will improve the ethical culture, as well as advance social, economic, political and cultural transformation of Nigeria.
Government is therefore expecting citizens to key into this while it struggles to do what is right for citizens to prefer ethics and integrity to corruption or other unethical behavior as the route to attaining desired goals.
Essentially, the main objective of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy is to enhance transparency and accountability, especially in the public and private sectors, in line with global best practices.
It is expected to change public mind-sets about corruption, its incidences and ways it can be controlled and it is also meant to restore public trust and confidence in governance and influence a change of attitude for the better among the citizenry, thereby restoring the nation’s traditional core values of honesty, transparency, accountability and respect for the rule of law.
It is also designed to emphasize the role of personal responsibility in national development. The adoption and enforcement of a National Ethics and Integrity Policy is one of the key strategies to improve the understanding of the public about corruption prevention mechanisms, and thus increase the commitment and participation of everyone in the fight against corruption.
The National Ethics and Integrity Policy is not just an instrument to help prevent corruption in the country.
The policy embraces a more comprehensive approach that appeals to the re-engagement of all citizens of Nigeria with core national values. This will allow the nation to heal from partisan sentiments and attitudes that fuel or support corruption and citizen parochial narrow view of corruption from the prism of politics, religion and ethnic lenses which ultimately result in violence, insecurities, intolerance and mistrust. Furthermore, the policy will enhance citizen power over elected leaders and the role of money in politics as a measure of restoring power to the electorate rather than the godfather.
The policy is expected to positively boost the internal energies of the nation to push the country beyond dread caused by the erosion of values in all dimensions of national life, by entrenched sectional enclaves that plunder national resources to serve sectional interests, by entrenched poverty due to neglect, and by the paralysis of national political institutions and their inability or unwillingness to be responsive to the demands of democratic values and accountability.
This policy document is therefore inspired by the urgent need to improve integrity, accountability, and responsibility in national affairs.
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has always provided leadership in promoting national economy as well as creating models for socio-economic transformation.
This however informed the Commission’s endorsement of the policy spearheaded by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Mr. Usman Malah, Chairman – Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit, of the Commission while announcing the agency’s involvement in its implementation
expressed that the adoption and enforcement of a National Ethics and Integrity Policy is one of the key strategies to improve the understanding of the public about corruption prevention mechanisms.
Malah added that the development will increase the commitment and participation of everyone in the fight against corruption.
The Commission said it was fully endorsing the National Ethics and Integrity Policy of Nigeria because it would enhance transparency and accountability, especially in the public and private sectors, in line with global best practices.
The policy, as spearheaded by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), is also expected to change public mind-sets about corruption, its incidences and ways it can be controlled.
Malah, further explained that the primary objective of the policy was also to restore public trust and confidence in governance and influence a change of attitude for the better among the citizenry, thereby restoring the nation’s traditional core values of honesty, transparency, accountability and respect for the rule of law.
“It is also designed to emphasize the role of personal responsibility in national development,” he added.
According to Malah, the adoption and enforcement of a National Ethics and Integrity Policy was one of the key strategies to improve the understanding of the public about corruption prevention mechanisms, and thus increase the commitment and participation of everyone in the fight against corruption.
The agency believes that National Ethics and Integrity Policy would eventually strengthen national cohesion, social equity, and equality of purpose in the pursuit of basic freedoms, individual and social rights as well as the material development of all Nigerians.