The Code of Conduct for public officers is spelt out in the 1999 constitution fifth schedule, part 1 which is to establish and maintain a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business and to ensure that the actions and behavior of public officers conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability. It must be indicated here that all public officer should study existing rules and regulations governing Government business.
Details of the Code governing the conduct of public officers and for which a violation would amount to corruption is reproduced below:
1. A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.
2. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph a public officer shall not:
i. Receive or be paid emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid the emoluments of any other public officer; or
ii. Except when he is not employed on full time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade; but nothing in this paragragh shall prevent a public officer from engaging in farming or participating in the management or running of any farm.
3. The President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors, Ministers of the government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Government of States, members of the National Assembly and the House of Assembly of the States and such other public officers or persons, as the National Assembly may by law prescribe shall not maintain/operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria.
4. Public officer shall not, after his retirement from public service and while receiving pension from public funds, accept more than one remunerative position as Chairman, Director or employee of a company owned or controlled by the government or public authority or receive any other remuneration from public funds in addition to his pension and the emolument of such one remunerative position.
5. Retired public officers who have held offices to which the paragraph applies are prohibited from service or employment in foreign companies or foreign enterprises.
The paragraph applies to the office of the President, Vice President, and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Governor and Deputy Governor of a state.
6. A public officer shall not do or direct to be done in abuse of his office an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of any other persons knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy.
7. A public officer shall not be a member of, belong to, or take part in any secret society and or any society the membership of which is incompatible with the functions and dignity of his office.
8. Political office holders are expected to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations regarding their behavior while in office.
The Ideal Behavior Expected From A Responsible Public Officer
Below are some of the behaviours that public officers are encouraged to emulate:
1. A public officer is not expected to discriminate against any citizen on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association. This is clearly stated in Nigeria constitutions, which commits the state to the ideal national integration. As instruments of state policy, public officers are expected to set the highest examples in pursuing these noble objectives.
This is the hallmark of a responsible public officer. Strict adherence to the rules and regulations of the public service is a must for a civil/public servant. As a senior officer, it is imperative that an officer complies with the code of Conduct and ensures that subordinates do the same.
Loyalty should be an integral part of the behavior of a public officer. This implies faithfulness to the nation and the employer and supportive of the aims for which one is employed.
4. Honesty and Transparency
A public officer should display responsible stewardship for all items, money, materials and men placed under his supervision. This implies that all government property entrusted with a Public Officer should be properly accounted for viz strict adherence to the civil service rules, financial regulations and all other circulars pertaining to the disbursement, management and reporting on same.
6. Respect for Constituted Authority.
7. Punctuality And Absenteeism
A public officer should endeavour to be punctual at his place of work. Public officers should also not absent themselves from work except on approval.
Good Conduct And Ethical Behaviour
To ensure that public officers cultivate appropriate conduct and ethics in conduct of government business, the Bureau recommends the establishment of primary Code of Conduct committees in all the Ministries Extra Ministerial Departments and Agencies of Government. All matters relating to breach of conduct and ethical behaviours within each specified establishment must be addressed within approved guidelines. Matters not satisfactorily resolved within the establishment are to be reported to the Code of Conduct Bureau for appropriate action.
Ministries and other governnment agencies are also urged to institute clearly in built incentives for fostering good behavior in their offices, such as:
1. Giving of commendation for good behavior.
2. Award of Certificate for good behavior.
3. Bonus and long Service Awards
The public must consistently bring pressure to bear on government or the electoral process when people with questionable integrity are appointed.