The Zulum and Accountability Lab gestures

 The recent cash reward and accelerated promotion by the Governor of Borno state, Professor Babagana Zulum, to Mrs Obiagelli Mazi, who had served as a dedicated teacher in the state for more than 30 years is a refreshing narrative from the insurgent-ravaged state. The North-east state of Borno has been the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency for over 12 years. The governor, who paid an unscheduled early morning visit to Shehu Sanda Kyarimi Primary School in Jere local government area, where the woman teaches, met her already waiting at about 6.30am for her pupils.

Overwhelmed by Mrs Obiagelli’s dedication, Governor Zulum commended and rewarded her with personal cash of N100,000, nearly three times her monthly salary of N35,000 and later approved an executive order promoting her from class teacher to assistant headmistress.  Mrs Obiagelli had been a level 12 class teacher before the promotion. She hails from Abia state and has been teaching for 31 years in Borno state.

Executive Chairman, Borno State Universal Education Board, SUBEB, Dr. Shettima Kullima, conveyed the promotion last week after his recommendation was approved by Governor Zulum. The governor had directed the executive chairman of Borno State Universal Education Board to review the woman’s civil service position, her qualification (which happens to be NCE) and recommend her promotion.

Dr. Kullima said that even though the woman was not a graduate, her 31 years teaching experience and commitment coupled with an executive order by the governor have earned her the promotion. The governor had posted a video of his interactions with the dedicated Igbo woman serving in Borbo with a strong message of appreciation.

He wrote: “I paid an unscheduled visit to Shehu Sanda Kyarimi II Primary School to see how we can improve the infrastructure therein and I met teacher, Mrs. Obiagelli Mazi, an Igbo Christian from Abia state who served for 31 years in the Borno state. Although it was very early, I met none of the teachers and their pupils on ground but only her. Her gender, tribe, religion or state of origin do not surprise me but her passion, enthusiasm, dedication, commitment and above all patriotism do surprise me a lot. As a government, we are mightily proud of her!”

In furtherance to the Zulum gesture, a kind and concerned Nigerian also promised to give Miss Obiageri Mazi N1 million to reward her hard work. He said his action was based on the fact that Nigeria has a lot of things plaguing her and one of them is the nonchalant attitude of government workers to their jobs, particularly at schools and hospitals. “Well, it is refreshing to see that not everybody regards government work with levity and they are actually concerned about the job”.

In the same vein, five public servants have been selected for award under the ‘Integrity Icon’ project, organised by the Accountability Lab Nigeria. Nominated for the 2019 edition of the awards, which, according to the organisers, is the third in a row, include Kacheilom Betram Roberts-Ndukwe, a teacher at GSS Andoni in Rivers state; CSP Francis Erhabor, a police officer serving at Itam, Akwa Ibom state; Tina Odinakachi Iirmdu, a lecturer at the University of Jos; Christian Ahiauzu, an ICT unit head at the University of Port Harcourt; and Tani Ali Nimlan, an assistant director at NAFDAC.

According to statement by communication officer of Accountability Lab Nigeria, Mr. Prince Chimaroke, voting to crown the overall Integrity Icon of 2019 is currently ongoing, through which the public can nominate their favourite icon among the nominees, via He explained that Integrity Icon was “a national campaign led by Accountability Lab Nigeria with support from Luminate and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, aimed at identifying and celebrating the country’s most honest government officials”, adding that lack of integrity has remained one of Nigeria’s challenges, with citizens often feeling helpless to do anything about it. 

“The value of Integrity Icon is in the process of changing the narrative around issues of integrity and corruption. It is a way to create positive conversations about what it means to be a public servant, what the role of the Nigerian government is, and how we should think about an inclusive and fair society”, the statement quoted country director of Accountability Lab, Friday Odeh, on the merits of the project.

Also, monitoring and evaluation officer of the group, Omojo Adaji, said the programme will “offer an opportunity for Nigerians to know that there are still persons of integrity in the Nigerian public service, and this will go a long way in igniting the hopes of many who have lost hope in the governance system”. The organisers explained further that nominations are already open for the 2020 Integrity Icon campaign, and can be made through Integrity Icon Nigeria 2020 Nomination form, adding that the project was principally designed to “name and fame” honest public servants.
Integrity Icon Nigeria 2020 Nomination formThe Integrity Icon Nigerian campaign searches for honest government officials who embody integrity and demonstra…

The reward for honesty and hard work as demonstrated by Governor Zulum and Accountability Lab Nigeria is a good omen for a beleaguered country that has for many decades been bogged down by a plethora of ills including insecurity, corruption, moral decadence like ineptitude, absenteeism and general indiscipline at workplaces, which have led to overall collapse of public institutions. Thus, we commend these patriotic gestures and urge other Nigerians to emulate the awardees.   

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