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How ICPC is Driving Behavioural Change Advocacy through Community Influencers

The fight against corruption necessitates the deployment of a multifaceted approach for it to be effective. Consequently, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences…

The fight against corruption necessitates the deployment of a multifaceted approach for it to be effective.

Consequently, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has introduced several initiatives, policies, and programmes to combat the menace.

The focus here, however, is on Constituency and Executive projects tracking initiatives (CEPTI), and National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP).

While CEPTI is one of the Commission’s people-oriented innovations intended at ensuring accountability and transparency in the conception, execution, and management of publicly funded projects, especially the ones initiated or sponsored by the federal legislatures and the executives, NEIP on the other hand, was developed to help restore and revitalize the public and private sectors while enhancing values and integrity, and tackling corruption in the larger Nigerian society.

The Policy obligates all Nigerians, and everyone who resides within the borders of Nigeria or who relates with the country in one form or the other, to commit to upholding the core values of Human Dignity, Voice and Participation, Patriotism, Personal Responsibility, Integrity, National Unity and Professionalism.

The Commission has recorded remarkable successes across the country through project tracking exercises. It has led to the recovery of assets worth billions of Naira to the government, the return of equipment to communities for whom they were meant, and the return to project sites by many contractors to complete hitherto shoddily done or abandoned projects.

The Commission is following up the tracking exercises with community sensitization and enlightenment campaigns called “My Constituency! My
Project”. The campaign, which is being conducted in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) is aimed at changing the behavior of the public towards constituency projects located within the communities by getting the grassroots people to take ownership of the projects, protect and maintain them, and spur them to monitor and report ongoing and abandoned projects within their communities.

To achieve this, the Commission partnered with major grassroots influencers such as traditional rulers, religious leaders, and Civil Society Organisations to help take the campaign messages to the grassroots.

The campaign message objectives include; exposing corrupt practices surrounding
constituency projects, spurring members of the community to monitor and report ongoing and abandoned projects, provoking community ownership of developmental projects, and increasing target groups’ access to credible information that will help them monitor the execution of constituency projects.

The Seven Core Values of NEIP, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on 19th August 2020 and launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on 28th
September 2020 is currently being taken to every Nigerian community through Radio and Television jingles, skits, and town hall meetings with participants cutting across every stratum of the Nigerian society.

The huge successes recorded by the Commission through the project tracking initiatives, and the policy, are due largely to collaborations with traditional rulers, religious leaders, and Civil Society Organisations who weighs considerable influence on their subjects and adherents, and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) which has requisites structures in the 774 local Councils of country.

In continuation of its commitment to promoting the two key initiatives to bring about a positive value system needed for national regeneration, expose corruption in the execution of Constituency and Executive Projects, and get the target participants to influence their followers to adopt the right attitude toward the Nigerian project, ICPC recently held sensitisation dialogues bringing together traditional rulers, religious leaders, and community-based Civil Society Organisations in fifteen states and the Federal Capital Territory to help drive the Commission’s behavioural change advocacy for CEPTI and NEIP.

Specifically, the dialogues were held in states like Anambra, Imo, Edo, Delta, Rivers, Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Bauchi, Borno, Kogi, Niger, and the FCT.

While speaking at the Abuja dialogue, the ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), OFR, challenged traditional rulers, religious leaders, and civil society organisations in the country to effect behavioural change amongst their subjects as parts of their contributions to the anti-corruption fight.

Professor Owasanoye, who described traditional and religious leaders and community-based civil society groups as character moulders, noted that without combining behavioural change advocacy with other anti-corruption strategies, much may not be achieved in the fight against corruption hence the need for their input.

“As religious leaders, you are not only spiritual guides but also moral compasses by which we measure the positive growth or otherwise of the society. As players in civil society, you are leaders in your own right with the task of standing as the voice of the voiceless to call the attention of relevant authorities to the plight and conditions of the ordinary people of our rural communities.

The ICPC boss who maintained that the country was blessed with a lot of good people but with a few bad eggs urged the traditional and religious rulers to use their influence to support ICPC and other stakeholders in ensuring the promotion of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

He also charged them to be mindful of
checking the constituency projects cited
in their communities saying they have the
right to ask questions or call the attention
of ICPC when they are not certified with the
states of the projects.

“Every year we find that the executive
and even the legislators propose major
projects to develop the country and every
part of the country is covered. But you will
find some projects are being neglected and
there has been appropriation for them.

One of the reasons this happens is that
communities are not mindful to check. So,
one of the things we have done to assist is
to upload projects being tracked on our
website and I encourage you all to check
and see what projects have been allocated
to your communities. If you realise nothing
happens you can ask questions as well.

‘Traditional rulers can make it a point
of duty to check when a budget is passed,
what has been allocated to their area by
the Federal, State, and local governments
and if nothing is done, you are duty bound
to ask because sin thrives in secrecy. Our
citizens need to be conscientious to get
involved in this conversation. 50 of the
ICPC cannot help them to fight corruption
if they (citizens) accept it as a norm. But if
they don’t accept it, the government can
achieve a lot in its anti-corruption fight.”

Speaking on the role of traditional
rulers in advancing the Core Values of
the NEIP, the Spokesperson of ICPC, Mrs.
Azuka Ogugua said, “It is a known fact
that Nigerians are very religious people
who hold their religious leaders in high
esteem. This reverence is so great that
religious adherents, irrespective of faith,
hang on to every, and any word from these
leaders with so much passion, and near total obedience that they often appear to
be almost submissive. Religious leaders
can use this influence and power to preach
sermons that encourage positive values and behavioural change to their congregations.”

Also speaking at the event, ICPC’s Deputy
Director in the Constituency and Executive
Tracking Division, Mr. Jimoh Suleiman,
challenged the stakeholders to “Participate
in the governance process, engage your
representatives in project determination.

Do not confer chieftaincy titles or positions
on those you are expected to demand
accountability and transparency from
in the discharge of their service to your
communities. By your positions, you are
GOLD (if gold should rust, what would the
iron do?)

Do not protect, assist, or support
corruption and corrupt individuals within
your folds. Have your ears to the ground to
know what is going on within your area.

Encourage members of your communities and congregation to have a voice and
participate in the execution, monitoring,
and protection of projects in their locality.”

In their various goodwill messages,
representatives of different religious
bodies, traditional rulers, and civil society
organisations lauded ICPC for the initiatives to engage them just as they offered different suggestions on what else could be done to effect behavioural changes in the anti-corruption fight in the country.

According to the Chairman of the
Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria,
(CCSN), Comrade Adams Otaku, “If we
want to get our country right and set it on
the path of glory, we must be able to ask
ourselves whether we are being sincere
in the fight against corruption. If so, even
those of us in this hall would be able to
transform the fortune of this country for
good.”

The Primate of the Anglican Church of
Nigeria, Reverend Henry Chukwudum
Ndukuba who spoke on behalf of the
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
thanked the ICPC for its efforts in bringing
about the changes in attitude and values in
Nigeria. He also appealed to the traditional
and religious leaders to bring about
attitudinal change, change in character,
and values within their communities so that Nigeria will be better.

On his part, Alhaji Haroun Mohammed
Eze, who represented the President General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar thanked the ICPC for
organising the dialogue saying “this kind of
sensitisation programme is highly needed
at this present time of our lives as a nation
to direct a change in behaviour that will
bring our nation back to the right course
and ensure our progress towards achieving
the goal our nation deserved.’’

The representative of the royal fathers in
FCT at the gathering, His Royal Highness
Alhaji (Dr) Shaban Audu Nizazo, Etsu
of Kwali said the lesson learnt from the
sensitisation dialogue would have a great impact on the community influencers in
the promotion of the core values of the
National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

While the ICPC remains resolute
to continue to play a leading role in
the anti-corruption crusade of the
present administration, feelers from the
sensitization dialogue across the country
have indicated that the participants,
who also doubled as major influencers in
Nigeria’s various communities are now
better equipped with the knowledge of the
National Ethics and Integrity Policy and
the Constituency and Executive Project
Tracking Initiative of ICPC and these
are expected to be transmitted to their
followers.

It is also believed that going forward,
Nigerians would not only begin to take
advantage of the window provided by the
ICPC – through the NEIP and CEPTI, for
them to lend their voices and participate
in issues concerning the country, but also
begin to adopt a positive behaviour that is
in sync with the plan to building a better
Nigeria.

Abdulsalam is an Assistant Superintendent with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Abuja

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