African Voices

Nigeria Integrity Idol: Reality TV show celebrates most honest public officials

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After 150 nominees and 11,000 votes, a winner was announced

Reality TV show searches for most honest public officials

CNN  — 

Nigeria has hosted its first ever Integrity Idol, a reality TV show celebrating the most honest public officials.

After 150 nominees and over a 11,000 votes, the inaugural winner was crowned: Nuzo Eziechi, an official at the Bureau for Public Enterprise.

After receiving the prize at the ceremony, Eziechi said: “We all have to be integrity idols and do the right things, even when no-one is watching.”

Eziechi was chosen for her honest and responsible approach to work, ensuring standards even in challenges circumstances. Eziechi says she refuses to take bribes from anyone.

Four other candidates were featured in the final: Igbolo Magdalene, Ogumelen Justina, Yemi Kale and Tubokenimi David.

Blair Glencorse, who is the founder of Accountability Lab – the NGO behind the event, told CNN in an email: “It was fantastic. Huge amounts of positive energy and a real women’s power feel with four of the candidates female.”

Celebrating honest public officials

Integrity Idol started in Nepal in 2014. The competition is now conducted by volunteers in Liberia, Pakistan, Mali and South Africa.

The event is based on “faming, not shaming.” Instead of focusing directly on corruption, they highlight integrity.

“The more we can show that government officials can be celebrated for doing the right thing, the more it will help the public understand what they should expect from them,” Glencorse told CNN in 2016 after the Liberian Integrity Idol.

Each country narrows down five candidates who are filmed and interviewed for national television and radio.

Throughout the week citizens vote online and via SMS.

Tackling corruption in Nigeria

The competition has particular resonance in Nigeria.

A report conducted last year by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed nearly one in three adults paid bribes when in contact with public officials.

An estimated $4.6 billion is paid each year in bribes – that’s more than the federal and state education budgets combined.

Although a survey by Afrobarometer indicates some positive news. The public perception of the Nigerian government’s fight against corruption has improved by 38% since 2015.

President Buhari has previously stated his administration was making progress with corruption, clearing a backlog of “ghost workers” claiming wages fraudulently and arresting those embezzling government funds.

The jury is still out, however, as research shows more than 90% of Nigerians think “some,” “most” or “all” public officials are corrupt.

Put simply, there’s a long way to go and maybe a bit more integrity could help.