Dr. Emmanuel Adeoye, is the Director General, National Ethics and Values Compliance Office (NEVACO). In this interview with EDWIN USOBOH, he sheds more light on the duties and objective of the commission and his plans to make impact on Nigerians.
What are the aims and objective of the agency (NEVACO)
National Ethics and Values Compliance Office (NEVACO) is 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 program, bearing in mind 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 FG appointed a Director-General without a structure?
No, we have structures. If you would remember vividly how Ethics and Value was been run, the former administration appointed her Excellency Sarah Jubril as Special Adviser on Ethics and Values and later on 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 so she had to use her NGO to carry the message which to me was a good idea. She started it as a corporative society to help the people with their communities. For instance, if there is cassava in a particular village, anybody can borrow money from the corporative and process the cassava, refund the money after selling and the loan given to another people. That was how the structures were established based on NGO bases. What the government is doing now is that they are interested and decided to say let us make it a proper structure. But, again, there is no fund, what we told the government is that we will create something to be generating fund, so that the burden would not be on the government alone. That is what the government is looking for; that is what everybody needs now. Because the government can’t do everything, there’s no money anywhere at the moment.
We intend to create employment by training people on different vocations. For instance, in Ekiti state right now, the yam flour mill is down; it has not been working for a long time. We are looking at NEVACO taking over the mill. We can talk to the people, they bring the yam to our warehouse, we can buy it from them, process it and repackage it for final consumption. We have to invest; we have to also look at bringing in investors to partner with us. We must find a way to create employment; we don’t need to wait for the government for everything.
With what you said NEVACO may still be seen as a corporative 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 to 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 doing. We came to correct that notion, we are Compliance Officers. For instance when you are running a corporative, we need to check if you are following the decree that established corporative society in the country, who are the members etc. 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 rather, it will form the stones on which we will step for easy performance of the task ahead. So, the process of staffing in NEVACO is directly guided and coordinated by Federal Civil Service Scheme of Service. The relevant parts of the Scheme will be made available to each state for the perusal of every member.
As Compliance Officers, don’t you think your duties would conflict with that of the already existing agencies, like Police and Civil Defence?
The police is established to act after the offence, the police arrest because you are a criminal, the DSS arrest 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. We are there to correct people, even the policeman can be corrected by a Compliance Officer. We were with the Inspector General of Police recently and we told them we are here to partner with them; we told them they also need to establish ethnics and value in the police force to deal with any officers that try to go above the law. Every department of our lives, every ministry, parastatals must have a compliance officer to correct abnormality in the country. It is a must; we must have ethics and values to correct the wrong in the society. We don’t arrest, we make sure you don’t commit the crime. The police is there to arrest when one commits a crime, but we prevent the crime from being committed. We are going to partner with the police and already existing arm forces; we are here to enlighten people.
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 advance world, its duties is to correct, train and enlighten the citizen. In Nigeria we are developing and as developing nation things like this will need to stay together as one. Other organizations 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 because Her Excellency Sarah Jubril started it and I will push it while I am in the office. It has to go through; it has to be a national thing to correct the wrong devices in our society.
Currently, Nigeria is passing through hard times, what is your view on Nigeria today?
No, Nigeria is not going through a hard time! What do you mean by we are going through a hard time? It a pity that we have been very lazy before in this country; we like free money. Someone recently came to me and said Oga, there’s no money and I asked where he was working and he said he doesn’t have a job. His excuse was that his brother has been carrying certificate everywhere looking for job and he felt there was no need for him to look for a job since his brother had not gotten any. I laughed and I told him, can I give you some cassava to go and cultivate, he said no, that he has a degree I cannot go to farm. We are blessed in this country with soil and weather. You can plant corn now in three to four month time you start to harvest. Instead, everybody is looking for the oil industry, my advice is that young people need to go back to farm, there’s job for everybody. The land is everywhere for everybody to plant, we have what we call commodity exchange for NEVACO, if your local government is planting tomatoes, and mine is planting okro, we simply exchange the two commodities between the two local government and if there’s access, we sell and give back the money. So, we encourage everybody to go to the farm and stop complaining there are no jobs.
Why do you think it is difficult for Nigerians to obey ethics and values?
Because we have been lawless for so long-impunity has eaten deep into our morals. There is this syndrome of do you know who I am? Nigerians are the best, but we are so proud, we are everywhere in the world doing greatly. But the problem of arrogance is in us. That is why we need to go back to the farm.
What do you make of the recent agitation by IPOB, MASSOB, NDA in the country?
You know as government we are talking to everybody; some part of the country feel cheated and feel they need to have their own share. But, most of the problems are even in the communities themselves; they vandalize the oil pipelines and it will spill over and destroy their farms. Some of them have different ship on the sea to hijack vessel and this is not helping the federal government. Resource control is what they are fighting for, they want to be in control, but this is one Nigeria they should know that there is no negotiation. Power belongs to the people and not one section of the country. They claim they are fighting for the community but the communities are rejecting them, as we read in the papers every day.
No doubt the recent ‘Bretix’ has generated a lot of controversy all over the world, how do you think this could affect Nigeria economy and its people?
No doubt this it will have a great effect on our economy, because we are a consuming nation and not a manufacturing nation. We virtually depend on everything. Until we learn to look inward we will continue to suffer as a nation. We must accept the Made-in-Nigeria campaign as soon as possible. We have Ofada rice in Nigeria while do we have to buy Uncle Ben rice from US. Every time you patronize a foreign good, you are increasing their economy and decreasing yours, this will have effect on everything we do. We have ofada rice in this country to go round everybody and it is very healthy. This white people come here, take our product, develop it and come back to sell to us as finished product. What does this tell you us. We have to look inward and appreciate our own. Our problem is arrogance and laziness; everybody is looking for white collar jobs. Since we discover oil, Nigeria has become a problem to themselves, everybody now what to work in the oil industry, looking for billions nobody want millions again. We must have to go back to the basis which is farming.
Senator Bukola Saraki has raised the alarm that a cabal has hijacked the presidency from Buhari. What is your view?
What is a cabal? We are Nigerians and not Italians; we are no Mafia in this country. So, I see that as a wrong terminology in a wrong place.
What is the different between ethics and compliance?
Ethics is your behaviour, your culture, while compliance is for you to obey the rules and regulations of the people.
Can a Compliance Officer arrest a policeman for doing the wrong?
Yes, of course. You can correct them.