The Executive Director of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), Dorbor Jallah, has been announced as winner of the 2018 edition of Integrity Idol Liberia—an initiative to highlight the efforts of those who, amidst widespread proclivity toward corrupt behavior, are serving with integrity in the public sector.
Integrity Idol is an annual campaign that moves away from “naming and shaming” corrupt officials and towards “naming and faming” Liberia’s most honest government civil servants.
The event is based on “fame, not shaming.” Instead of focusing directly on corruption, they highlight integrity. “The more we can show that government officials can be celebrated for doing the right thing, the more it will help the public understand what they should expect from them.”
Mr. Jallah, a man famously known for being outright and principle minded, became the star of the 2018 edition show when he was officially announced as winner at a ceremony held in Monrovia. The initiative is run by Accountability Lab-Liberia, an organization that is building a new generation of active citizens and responsible leaders in the country and around the world.
Organizers said Mr. Jallah, who is a former professor at the University of Liberia, was chosen for his honest, and responsible approach to work, ensuring standards even in challenges circumstances. “He refuses to take bribes from anyone, even higher ups in the society,” the organizers have said.
In a brief statement, Lawrence Yealue, Country Director of Accountability Lab Liberia, said “it is critical that we create a positive conversation around issues of integrity. Too often we focus on the problems. This campaign is about identifying role-models and positive, collective solutions to the challenges we face as a nation.”
He lauded all those nominated this year for their outstanding roles they continue to play in their communities. “We are glad to have you guys out there serving our communities positively,” he said.
“Out of 2,700 nominations this year – congratulations to Liberia’s 2018 Integrity Idols and winner of the public voting campaign, James Dorbor Jallah,” the head judge announced.
Now a global initiative, Integrity Idol began in Liberia four years ago as a way to recognize and inspire positively outstanding government officials. Mr. Jallah, whom many revered as a man of immense integrity, emerged from mainstream public service in the midst of incessant temptation in a society permeated by rampant corruption to scoop the award.
He is famous known for his stance at the UL when an entrance examination he spearheaded saw over twenty thousand applicants failed—a situation that claimed global attention. He was also lauded for his roles in the investigation of the Private Use Permit saga in the country—a massive abused of the forest sector of the country by concessionaires. The PUP was a certificate that government issued to logging companies to carry out their activities.
It was later discovered that most of the companies were getting the PUPs fraudulently, while destroying the country’s forest on a large scale. This precipitated the setting up of an investigative committee by former President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
During the course of the investigation, reports indicated that Mr. Jallah refused to back down from the investigation that ensured that those who were culpable were exposed.
“We have a small country with a lot of resources. If we can all commit ourselves to doing the right thing, we will be able to make Liberia prosperous,” Jallah said in a brief statement.
He noted that he is confronted with many challenges at the PPCC, where many of the government’s top procurement processes have to pass for vetting. “There are lots of temptation,” he said.
Integrity Idol Liberia received over 2,736 nominations from the country’s most honest civil servants this year from all 15 counties. After four selection rounds the top 33 candidates were presented to an expert panel of judges.
Four other candidates including Marpue C. Yekeku, Nurse; Michael T. Dahn, police officer; Patricia Togba, Gender specialist; and James Saybah, an Administrator were featured in the final.
The campaign, which started in 2015, is gaining momentum and popularity, especially as it serves as a paradigm shift from the traditional manner in which corruption is being vaguely fought in public service in the country.
Integrity Idol initiative is a brainchild of a British national, Blair Glencorse, founder of accountability Lab, a nonprofit group that fights corruption with the goal to recognize people “for simply doing what they think is their job, and being the person that they are— to give them a sense that they’re on the right track,” Glencorse said.
The competition was first held in Nepal in 2014 with videos of the nominees on the internet, TV and radio. It is now conducted by volunteers in Liberia, Pakistan, Mali and South Africa.