Friday Odeh - HagueTalks

‘I needed a new passport. So I paid the fees online and I went to the local council offices in Abuja.

The guy behind the desk asks me to pay 10,000 naira, about 25 US dollars. And I’m like, ‘Oh? I’ve just paid the fee online I’m not sure why you want me to pay this fee?’ And the next thing he says to me is, ‘Do you really want a passport?’ What he wanted was cash, and that cash would go straight into his pocket. I took his number, said I’d communicate with his boss and left. And this is what happens in Nigeria.

You wake up in the morning and catch up on the Nigerian news on TV or radio and it’s always news of corrupt public officials. This makes people feel they can’t do anything about it. People feel helpless and hopeless.

So that got me thinking. What if we could move from putting the spotlight on corrupt government officials and move to putting the spotlight on government officials who are doing the right thing? What if we could flip the coin and move from ‘naming and shaming’ to ‘naming and faming’?

So we started a programme called ‘Integrity Icon Nigeria’, naming and faming honest government officials. We have volunteers from all over the country to gather nominations. Everything culminates in a big awards ceremony to celebrate the top five finalists and the icon with the most popular votes is crowned the winner of the year.’

Odeh Friday is Country Director for Accountability Lab Nigeria. His work focuses on social justice, youth development and governance. Odeh believes it’s important to build integrity in Nigeria because he sees that peace and justice can only be maintained when everyone is held accountable. Watch Odeh share two ideas on how to involve citizens and youth in creating a better future together.