Dr Emmanuel Adeoye is the Director-General, National Ethics and Values Compliance Office (NEVACO). In this interview with SEYI SOKOYA, he sheds more light on the duties and objective of the commission and his plans to make impact on Nigerians. Excerpts:
What are the aims and objective of NEVACO?
NEVACO was established to correct the wrong, the evil vices ongoing in our country and society today. It is to make sure we do things the right way which we have not been doing in the country. Even the little child in Nigeria today wants to make money through wrong means. So, the aim of the commission is to educate people to be upright and sincere in whatever you are doing. For instance, you want to go to the ministry for something, you must have to bribe somebody to help push the letter, this act is wrong and we want to correct it. So, we are out to let everybody know whatever you are doing in the country, let it be ethnical, let it be done in the right way. Ethnic is to correct the abnormality in the society, to correct the misimpression by the outside communities.
Are there structures on ground to kick-start this programme, bearing in mind that it is a national agenda.
We are just forming the structure. As we go to the states we form structures. We are looking for credible people to take over not just anybody that would come to destruct the whole process. Like I always tell people, Nigerians are fond of two things; they like the uniform and titles. You can see someone who will tell you I am a chairman, I am a director, and you ask director of what? So, structures have to be on ground. Everybody must know their functions, not for a watch repairer to stand up and tell the whole world he is a managing director. In order words, we need to get the message of government to the grassroots; there must be orderliness and a structure for everybody to carry out their respective functions.
How come the Federal Government appointed a Director-General without a structure?
No, we have structures. If you would remember vividly how Ethics and Value was being run, the former administration appointed Mrs Sarah Jubril as Special Adviser on Ethics and Values and later my office was created. I am the first Director-General. So, based on this, what was in existence before was Foundation for Ethics and Value (FEAV). At the time, she was not given any fund; she had to use her NGO to carry the message, which to me was a good idea. She started it as a cooperative society to help the people within their communities. For instance, if there is cassava in a particular village, anybody can borrow money from the society and process the cassava, refund the money after selling and the loan will be given to other people. That was how the structures were established based on NGO bases.
With what you said, NEVACO may still be seen as a cooperative society, how do you intend to correct this notion in the mind of the people?
It is a wrong notion; they were talking about Ethics and Values. This is National Ethics and Values Compliance Office. Compliance means we have to comply with the ethics of the land. I don’t want to say we are policemen but to correct the abnormality in the society people have been carrying out. We came to correct that notion, we are Compliance Officers. For instance, when you are running a cooperative society, we need to check if you are following the decree that established society in the country, who are the members and all that. We need to make sure people follow the laid down rules and regulations. To put it straight, we are here to correct the wrong in the society. NEVACO cannot shy away from the fact that a good number of people have committed a whole lot of efforts to the projects of FAEV but I must say it emphatically here that NEVACO is miles apart in ways of conducting its business vis-à-vis FAEV but this is not to say that the previous endeavours are wasted.
As Compliance Officers, don’t you think your duties would conflict with that of the already existing agencies, like the police and Civil Defence Corps?
The police are established to act after the offence has been committed, the police arrest because you are a criminal. The DSS arrests you because you are a criminal but NEVACO is a compliance office, we are there to correct everybody; all Nigerians and to preach the change. We are compliance officers and make people adhere to the ethics and values of the land. We let people know their right from wrong.
Don’t you think NEVACO would be viewed as a Buhari/APC agenda?
Any serious government all over the world must have ethics and values. Just take a look at the advanced world, its duties is to correct, train and enlighten the citizen. In Nigeria we are developing and as a developing nation, things like this will boost our need to stay together as one. Other organisations will come up in the nearest future that we are supposed to have. Even in the National Assembly at the moment we have a Committee on Ethnic and Values to check them.
How optimistic are you that the bill to pass National Ethics and Value Compliance will see the light of the day?
It will scale through. That is what the public is looking for. Everybody wants to correct the vices in the country right now and it is only ethics and value that can raise the moral; it is the antidote to corruption. So, everybody is looking forward to having the bill.