11 December 2017

West Africa: 'Integrity Idol' Celebrates Honest Civil Servants in West Africa

Dakar — "Sometimes my colleagues push me away because I have integrity. They say I am hard to deal with, that I won't change"

A reality TV show that celebrates honest civil servants in corruption-plagued countries has grown to reach new audiences in Mali and Liberia and aims to enlist the public's help in fighting graft, the organisers said.

"Integrity Idol" asks the public to nominate model civil servants and then vote for their favourite by text message after the finalists appear on national TV and radio.

The show launched in Nepal in 2014 and has since spread to Pakistan, Nigeria, Mali and Liberia.

In finals this weekend in the West African nations of Liberia and Mali, a nursing instructor and a teacher were voted the winners from among thousands of nominees.

"There are lots of challenges to being a person of integrity in Liberia," said winner Rebecca Scotland, a nursing teacher in Liberia's capital Monrovia.

Corruption is so common in Liberia and across the region that patients even bribe nurses to ensure they receive the proper medicine and care, she said.

"Sometimes my colleagues push me away because I have integrity. They say I am hard to deal with, that I won't change," she said in an interview with Integrity Idol.

She plans to create a network with other winners to boost honesty and transparency in the public sector, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation following the award.

Liberia is in the midst of an election to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that has been delayed by allegations of fraud. The Supreme Court cleared it for a run-off last week.

The country ranked 90th out of 176 countries on watchdog Transparency International's global corruption perception index last year, while Mali ranked 116th.

In Mali, politicians are sometimes arrested for graft but avoid penalties because the judges are also corrupt, said Moussa Kondo, who launched Integrity Idol there last year.

"We want to show young generations that there's another way to become famous, without getting rich," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Mali's winner Mahamane Mahamane Baba teaches at a public high school in Timbuktu and organises literacy classes in his free time.

The show has grown quickly in both countries, said its organisers at U.S.-based organisation Accountability Lab.

In Mali, people made 3,011 nominations for Integrity idol this year compared to 2,850 last year, said Kondo.

Liberians submitted 4,689 nominations this year, more than three times the number when the show started in 2015, while the reach of the campaign through radio and TV stations has grown eight-fold to over 4 million people.

"Especially given the difficult situation with electoral politics at the moment, it is inspiring to see so many people discussing and voting for government officials with integrity," said Lawrence Yealue, director of Liberia's Accountability Lab.

(Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

West Africa

Competition, Hurdles for Local Airlines On London Route

Air travellers longing for Nigerian carriers on the London route may wait no further, as at least two operators are… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 600 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.