The pioneer chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, is among eight individuals and organisations recognised globally for their role in curtailing corruption at an event held Friday in Putrajaya, Malaysia.
The honorees, from Asia, America, Africa, Oceania and Europe, were recognised at the Third annual Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE) Award 2018.
Held to coincide with International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9, the winners were presented their award by Tamim Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar; Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad; the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov; and the Qatari Attorney General Ali Al-Marri.
Mr Ribadu was nominated for the award by Nigerian nonprofit, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL).
Organisers said the nominations underwent thorough assessment and screening process, before the final approval by the centre’s board.
The award has been established “to shine a light on the fight against corruption across the world…and acknowledge the outstanding contributions towards the prevention of and the fight against corruption that are being made around the world”.
The winners for this year are from Liberia, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, USA and Mexico were presented their Award in support of The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and its anti-corruption mandates, specifically, the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
Before the ceremony, a 12m high statue of an open hand, the symbol of the ACE Award and a representation of the transparency and openness required of governments around the world, was unveiled in Dataran Putra, opposite the Prime Minister’s office.
After a long and thorough selection process, the High-Level Committee of the ACE Award, with recommendations from the Assessment and Advisory Board, chose eight recipients across four categories: Anti-Corruption Lifetime or Outstanding Achievement, Anti-Corruption Innovation, Anti- Corruption Youth Creativity and Engagement, and the Anti-Corruption Academic Research And Education.
In the Anti-Corruption Innovation category, Papua New Guinea Phones Against Corruption from the island state of Papua New Guinea was recognised for its innovative mobile platform for reporting corruption. The text message service has resulted in over 6000 reports of corrupt activity. Since its launch on August 15, 2010, PNG Phones Against Corruption has been responsible for the opening of over 250 cases being investigated by the Papua New Guinea authorities, with five of those awaiting trial. The initiative is responsible for the arrest of two Papua New Guinea government bureaucrats for mismanagement of over $2 million of official funds.
Sharing the Anti Corruption Innovation Award is Ghanaian Roger Oppong Koranteng. Mr Koranteng is the Lead Trainer as well as Governance and Anti-Corruption Adviser for the Africa Commonwealth Secretariat, and has used his position to bring together the heads of African Anti- Corruption offices to peer-review anti-corruption initiatives, set performance benchmarks and exchange best practices.
A bilateral information-sharing agreement between Ghana and Nigeria is a direct result of the work spearheaded by Mr Koranteng. He has responsibility for governance, anti-corruption, democratic and oversight institutions in all the 52 commonwealth countries.
This year, there are two shared winners in the Anti-Corruption Academic Research And Education category, the first of whom is Robtel Neajai Pailey from Liberia. In the fight against corruption, it is vital to begin educating the next generation of citizens as early as possible.
This was the aim of Ms Pailey, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford, when she wrote her children’s books, Gbagba and Jaadeh. The books introduce children to the effects of corruption on everyday life, and have been made into short films, and even songs.
Ms Pailey has spoken at a number of prestigious events on the subject of corruption, including a 2016 TED talk on Corruption in Africa, as well as at a number of conferences and seminars across the world.
The second awardee in this category is Jason Sharman, holder of the Sir Patrick Sheehy professorship in International Relations at the University of Cambridge.
Before joining the University of Cambridge, Professor Sharman received his Undergraduate degree from the University of Western Australia, followed by a PhD from the University of Illinois, and has worked at the University of Brisbane and Griffith University in Australia. His work includes investigations into the corrupt practices used by despots to hide illicit funds, alongside in-depth studies on money laundering and asset recovery. His publications have been reviewed by the Economist, the Financial Times and the Australian Institute of International Affairs, among others.
The first awardee for the Anti-Corruption Youth Creativity And Engagement category, Fernanda Aguirre, is a Mexican community activist who epitomises battling corruption from its inception.
Her first introduction to community action was at home, when she participated in the Lions Club of Mexicali at the age of six in the programme that her grandfather and her parents headed, called “Receive the Gift of Sight.” Through this, they provided eye examinations, lenses and even sight operations to people of limited resources throughout Mexico.
From these beginnings, Ms Aguirre has expanded her community outreach, working in fields as varied as voter registration and motivation, gender equality in politics, and youth programmes designed to give voice to the younger generation. She is currently finishing an MBA in order to further improve the effectiveness of her anti-corruption programmes.
The second award in the category of Anti-Corruption Youth Creativity and Education is the organisation Accountability Lab, an organisation based in Washington DC with the aim to promote fairness and accountability in as many countries as it can reach.
They run an ‘Accountability Incubator’, a flagship programme for young civil society leaders that invites them to build sustainable, effective tools for accountability, participation and social impact in their societies, as well as Integrity Idol, a global campaign run by citizens in search of honest government officials, as well as the Integrity Fellowship, a month-long fellowship where the fellows are given opportunities to work with and learn from exemplary civil and public servants.
The final award was conferred upon two winners in the category of Anti-Corruption Lifetime Achievement.
Nuhu Ribadu was a Nigerian civil servant who argues for actions instead of words as the only way to end corruption. His actions focus on his home country of Nigeria, and the corruption that has robbed the state of huge sums of money while stagnating development.
He cites improving the foundations of leadership, institutions and individuals as the key requirements for anti-corruption success in any nation, saying “If things are not done in the right way, cutting corners will always continue.” His fearless work has resulted in the prosecution of a number of prominent politicians.
The second winner of this prestigious category is Leonard Frank McCarthy, whose work is credited with shaping the global economy.
As Vice-president of the World Bank, he spearheaded initiatives designed to increase the organisation’s ability to address fraud and corruption. Under his leadership, integrity due-diligence has become a standard of World Bank investigations, and under his guidance the World Bank Preventative Services Unit was created, to ensure that potential corruption could be stopped before it had even begun.
“The fight against corruption is not something that can be accomplished in just one day,” commented Eduardo Vetere, Vice President of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, during the press conference after the award. He continued; “It is a slow, day by day process in which not only government officials but the entire public have to cooperate and collaborate.”
Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohammed, Director of the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti- Corruption (GIACC) spoke about the progress made by Malaysia under the present government in tackling corruption.
“The government of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has taken great steps towards improving elements such as accountability, efficiency and transparency, instilling a comprehensive approach to fighting corruption within Malaysia.
Mr Al Marri, UNODC Regional Special Advocate for the Prevention of Corruption, announced the establishment of the International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award, under the patronage of Sheikh Al-Thani , at the 8th Annual Conference of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) in November 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia.