MONROVIA, Montserrado – Following a nationwide nomination and sorting by a panel of selected judges, five finalists have been qualified to compete for this year’s Integrity Idol Awards. The program recognizes and celebrates the most honest public and civil servants in Liberia.
It is a campaign launched by Accountability Lab Liberia in partnership with the Open Society Initiative of West Africa, UNDP, the Swedish Embassy in Monrovia, and the European Union.
Corruption in Liberia has remained a serious challenge to the government, despite the existence of anti-graft institutions and laws on the book.
The U.S. State Department 2016 Human Rights Report on Liberia pointed out corruption in the police force as a problem. The report is consistent with the previous year’s reports highlighting corruption with the police.
According to the report, low pay for civil servants, minimal job training, and little judicial accountability exacerbated official corruption and contributed to a culture of impunity in the country.
In its 2016 Corruption Index Report, Transparency International also ranked Liberia as the 90th least corrupt nation out of 175 countries, overwhelmed by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions including the police.
Accountability Lab Liberia’s coordinator, Lawrence Yealue, told The Bush Chicken that amid the perception reports showing police as one of the most corrupt public institutions, this year’s celebration is focusing on the security sector.
Yealue said of the over 5,000 nominations collected nationwide, seven police officers and four drug enforcement officers made it among the initial 50 nominees that were qualified for the second stage of the selections process.
The five finalists are two nurses, a classroom teacher, a police officer, and a drug enforcement officer. They include Yassah Suah, Alphanso Rancy, Vivian Wamah, Jefferson Dolo, and Rebecca Scotland.
“What it signals is there are still good people in the law enforcement area, and these good people are the ones holding the law enforcement; that’s why it doesn’t break,” he said.
According to him, perceptions sometimes are not really far from the reality, and they signal the existence of problems that need to be investigated and solved.
Yealue said his organization was pleased, especially with all the finalists being low-level public and civil servants who are working very hard with honesty in their respective institutions.
SMS voting for the winner of this year’s Integrity Idol awards will open to the public on November 27. Voting is expected to be free on any GSM network to 8355, and will be restricted to one vote per phone.
This year marks the third edition of the program since the campaign was launched in 2015.
Bockarie Sakilla, a pharmacist in the government hospital in Tubmanburg was announced as the winner of Integrity Award 2016.
President Ellen Sirleaf, who presented the awards last year, thanked the organizers for promoting integrity and praised the finalists for demonstrating high levels of integrity and honesty at their places of assignments.
“There are many more of them in all the organizations and entities, except they have not been recognized….and that’s what this lab does,” the president said. “This lab recognizes them and brings them to our knowledge- to our consciousness, and we can now do something to recognize them too.”
Sirleaf was particularly impressed by the work of agricultural technician John Madave, who worked with farmers to optimize their production.
“For those farmers who are changing the lives of those women in the villages – making an example for them – I hope we have the opportunity to show some of these [videos] on the local televisions so it can be shared by others to be an inspiration and encourage more,” she added.
She promised to reach out to the finalists at their places of work.
Featured photo courtesy of Accountability Lab