The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has called on professional bodies to adhere to national ethics and integrity in performing their professional duties.
Owasanoye, represented by a member of the commission, Mrs Olubukola Balogun, made the call at a webinar organised by ICPC for Professional Associations and Business Membership Organisations, on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said that the webinar was targeted at educating and getting the support of the professional bodies and business organisations on the National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP) of the Federal Government.
According to him, NEIP is aimed at resuscitating our national values of honesty, integrity, professionalism, patriotism, voice, participation and human dignity.
“It was initiated by the ICPC in collaboration with the office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation and the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
“The policy was approved and adopted by the Federal Executive Council and signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020 while the full implementation commenced in March,’’ he said.
Owasanoye said the first phase of the implementation began with the engagement of traditional institutions and stakeholders in all the six geopolitical zones, adding that the webinar marked the second phase.
According to him, the engagement of the professional bodies and business organisations was paramount given their roles as the drivers of the national economy.
“It is a known fact that the successful implementation and sustainability of this policy depends to a large extent, on the readiness of the professional bodies to uphold and practice those core values contained in the discharge of their professional responsibilities.
“For instance, core values of integrity and professionalism require that professional bodies adhere strictly to the codes of their professional practice with a high sense of responsibility.
“Professional bodies must gather the courage to enforce the ethics of their profession on their members by punishing erring members and rewarding those found to be honest and impeccable.
“If the American Bar Association for example, could ban a former American president from practicing law and stopped him from appearing in the American Supreme Court because he had brought the legal profession to disrepute.
“I don’t see why the Nigerian Bar Association would not take action against erring members and there are many of them who willfully violate the ethics of the legal profession,’’ he said.
ICPC boss, however, commended some professional bodies who had upheld ethical standards in regulating their profession, urging them to work with ICPC for the implementation of the policy.
He gave the assurance that the commission in collaboration with NOA would take the sensitisation campaign to the grassroots and called on the civil society organisations to support ICPC in the drive.
In his remarks, the Director-General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, commended ICPC for designing the policy, adding that the engagement had come at a time the nation needed it.
Abari said that the collapse of ethical standards and integrity in the nation was worrisome, adding that it had a great impact on the country as a whole.
According to him, the collapse has become so bad and our national development objectives cannot be realised unless we do something urgently to redress it.
He called on all professional bodies and business organisations to look at their codes of ethics with a view to ensuring high quality and observance of their respective codes.
“We have seen how lives have been lost from persistent incidences of building collapse, quacks that have been parading as medical personnel, wrong prescriptions and the rest of them.
“So, all of these actually has to do with the codes of ethics of the various professional group.
“I hope that this will give us the opportunity to interrogate sufficiently these issues with a view to developing implementable solutions to the challenges of ethical standards and integrity,’’ he said.
He called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), religious organisations, and families to rise up to expectation and play the roles expected of them to bring the country back to the core value of ethics and integrity.
Mr. Okechukwu Ozoechi, who represented NBA, said the policy was a welcome development, saying that ethics had remained the main thrust of NBA with regard to the legal profession in the country.
Ozoechi, while lamenting the collapse of ethical standards and integrity in the system, urged all professional bodies to promote and adhere to the ethics of their professions while performing their tasks.
Mrs Ifeoma Okwuosa of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), said that ICAN had aligned with the activities of ICPC in promoting ethical standards at all levels.
Okwuosa said that ICAN had ensured that probity and integrity were being adhered to by its professionals, adding that no nation could prosper without probity and integrity.