Nonprofit Sector News Integrity Conference for public servants holds in Abuja

Integrity Conference for public servants holds in Abuja

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On the 23rd and 24th of March 2022, Accountability Lab Nigeria, a CSO dedicated to making governance work for the people, in partnership with the Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR) held The Integrity Conference, an interactive solution-oriented workshop for public servants to support the development of a culture of integrity within Government, as one of the knowledge-building tools to influence norms and change behaviours. The event utilized practical learning scenarios such as case studies of role models and trendsetters, with the stories of Integrity Icons as a major point of focus. The event is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur foundation, Ford foundation and Luminate group.

The 2-day event held at the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja, had in attendance representatives of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, public and private sector stakeholders, civil servants and finally Integrity Icons, honest government officials identified across the country by Accountability Lab, upon whose stories many of the knowledge sharing tools were modelled after.

At the start of the inaugural event, representatives of government agencies gave their addresses marking the significance of the intervention. The BPSR DG in his welcome address stated: “Integrity in the public service is apt and strategic to good governance. I urge you all to frankly proffer solutions that will ensure integrity in the public service.” Representing TUGAR, Mrs Jane Onwumere said: “We’ve worked closely with the BPSR and are appreciative of the reforms in the public sector. We have also seen over the years how Accountability Lab has encouraged others in the society by naming and faming those who do well. The importance of integrity cannot be overemphasized.” In her goodwill message Ese Okwong of the ICPC appreciated both hosts, congratulating Accountability Lab for promoting integrity in public service. “Accountability Lab Nigeria has come with us to schools to inspire students, we have also been part of their selection process, they are doing a good job to sensitize the nation.” The National Orientation Agency (NOA) was represented as saying “This event is coming at a good time. Every public servant is required to exhibit accountability in the spirit of open governance.”

Interactive sessions at #TheIntegrityConference commenced following a presentation on Barriers, Opportunities and Motivation for Integrity and Accountability in public service by Catherine Angai. She led a discussion on the COM-B model to identify the capability, opportunity and motivation needs for behavioral change to be effective in Nigeria, resulting in numerous feedbacks from participants on building Integrity despite the challenges we face in the Nigerian society.

A government official working with the State House said: In all my years of attending conferences I have never been to a training as rich as this. The politicians need to be engaged the same way you are engaging us, for maximum impact. Also, if you want people to have integrity, assure them of their future. If after working diligently I don’t receive my pension, what else am I to do?” Another public official said: “I believe we should start the sensitization from our schools and family unit because children can be taught but adults can hardly be fixed. We need training from childhood and proper sanctions.” A civil servant working in the justice sector suggested: “In addition to training people, we have to put checks in our organisations to ensure the right thing is done.”

Day 2 of the Event featured a panel session on practicalizing social norms, where practical solutions on ethical values within Nigeria’s public and private sector were suggested. A representative from the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network discussed how their organisation reduced the incidence of illegal cash demands in the maritime sector by establishing a helpdesk and response system. “In Nigeria the statistics peaked in 2017, but once we started our interventions in 2019, they began to decline. Our helpdesk data matches the incidence data and we have represented some of this in the media as well.”

The celebrated public officials dubbed Integrity Icons were featured in a panel session where they discussed translating personal integrity to institutional integrity. The icons spoke on their experiences and techniques used in improving accountability in their respective spaces. A celebrated police officer spoke on the need for trust: “I went to town hall meetings to earn the trust of the people. I started by ensuring bail was free under my watch to dispel the myth of non-compliance at my station.” An NYSC state coordinator explained how being knowledgeable is a necessity for efficient public service: “I knew that the quality of food served depends on procurement and personnel, so I acted accordingly and the corpers appreciated my efforts.” A public officer in the health sector suggested the implementation of empathy, saying: “You must connect with like minds in your sector, educate them and touch their lives.” Another civil servant, a lecturer, explained: “It takes your personal dedication and commitment to stand out. As a HOD, I identified students in my class that had the potential to get a first class in my department and mentored them to ensure they were not frustrated out of their potential. It is difficult, but whenever your students see you in future, they will want to associate with you.” A celebrated police officer spoke on the need for trust: “I went to town hall meetings to earn the trust of the people. I started by ensuring bail was free under my watch to dispel the myth of non-compliance at my station.” 

The event concluded with feedback garnering from the audience as Director General, BPSR, Dr. Dasuki Arabi and Accountability Lab Country Director, Odeh Friday, entertained questions and suggestions from public servants in attendance for further consideration and proper harmonization of learnings.

DG BPSR, Dr Dasuki Arabi and Accountability Lab Nigeria Country Director, Odeh Friday taking feedback from civil servants in attendance on day 2 of the Integrity Conference

 

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