By: Lawrence Yealue, Country Representative for Accountability Lab Liberia. This article was originally published by Front Page Africa.
National TV and Radio Campaign by Accountability Lab this week seeks to celebrate “Integrity Idols”. Corruption and a lack of accountability remain critical challenges to Liberia’s development- the most recent Transparency International poll scored Liberia at just 83rd out of 168 countries.Traditional approaches to tackling corruption have tended to involve the creation of laws, enforcement of rules and efforts to ensure compliance by individuals- all of which are a part of the solution.The difficulty with these approaches, however, is that they start with the problem, not the solution. They tend to lead to finger-pointing and mud-slinging, rather than constructive conversations about change. And they focus on the “wrong-doers” rather than the “do-gooders”..Last year, at Accountability Lab Liberia, we started a national campaign to change these dynamics. The idea behind Integrity Idol is to “name and fame” Liberia’s most honest government officials, giving them the recognition they deserve and creating constructive conversations about collective solutions to corruption.
We found massive engagement behind the campaign from young people in particular, who desperately want to help build a better future and work to ensure our country is inclusive, clean and prosperous. After tens of thousands of votes, the competition was won by Jugbeh Kerkula- a nurse from Grand Bassa- but all of the nominees were Integrity Idols and real heroes of the Liberian civil service.
In 2016, we repeated the process and received over 2,000 nominations for Integrity Idol from all 15 counties. After a very careful selection process with the help of an expert panel we found and filmed the 5 most honest civil servants. You can tune into the episodes on LBS, Power FM, Capitol FM, Hott FM and Big FM all this week and on the website at www.integrityidol.org. You can also vote for your favorite on the website or by sending an SMS with the number of your favorite candidate to 8355.
The candidates and their numbers are below:
Nominee 1: John Madave. John works on behalf of the government with farmers to optimize their production. He introduced a revolutionary cassava production method that has transformed the lives of many farmers and their communities. He tirelessly works to improve agriculture in Liberia in the hope of making communities and the country as a whole more self-sufficient and secure. Vote for John by phone by typing IIL 01 and sending it by SMS to the shortcode 8355.
Nominee 2: Musa Dorley. Musa was born and raised in Bonjeh, Bomi County where he is now Community Chairman. Musa has made sure a clinic was built, which has drastically improved health outcomes in Bonjeh. During the Ebola crisis, Musa also commissioned a team to spread awareness and ensure that they went to health facilities, despite the widespread fear. Vote for Musa by phone by typing IIL 02 and sending it by SMS to the shortcode 8355.
Nominee 3: Patrick Goffah. Patrick works as a janitor in the offices of the Ministry of Education in Monrovia, a job he loves because he is able to help people. Without him, the Ministry would not be a place that other people like to work, and he leads by example. Among friends, colleagues and the community he is well-known by everyone for being incredibly hard-working and honest. Vote for Patrick by phone by typing IIL 03 and sending it by SMS to the shortcode 8355.
Nominee 4: Bokarie Sakilla. Bokarie is a pharmacist in a government hospital in Tubmanburg, Bomi county. He voluntarily pays for the education of students who couldn’t afford it otherwise, visits communities without clinics and oversees the establishment of small medical shops with professionals to provide medication. Vote for Bokarie by phone by typing IIL 04 and sending it by SMS to the shortcode 8355.
Nominee 5: Sandra Roberts. Sandra has worked in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications for 16 years. She has constantly faced pressure to hire based on favoritism or patronage, but has always refused to succumb to it, hiring only based on merit. Her vision is of a Liberia where everyone is accountable for their actions. Vote for Sandra by phone by typing IIL 05 and sending it by SMS to the shortcode 8355.
As elections approach in Liberia, it is essential that we all think about what kind of qualities we want to see in our public officials, and vote for those that serve the Liberian people with honesty and integrity. Join us and let’s “Name and Fame” our Integrity Idols! Voting is open until January 19th at midnight, so get your vote in and the winner will be announced on January 25!