LACK of “personal” appreciation and understanding for the Leadership Code and serious observation of the code of ethical conduct governing leaders is one reason why leaders are in breach of the Code, Ombudsman John Nero said yesterday at an anti-corruption strategy workshop in Port Moresby.
Speaking at the Holiday Inn gathering, Mr Nero said Papua New Guinean leaders who were ignorant of their roles, duties and responsibilities were at risk of being misled into doing the wrong thing by others.
“The Ombudsman Commission is increasingly seeing the effects of bad exercise of legislative power by leaders because of ignorance.”
He said the Leadership Code placed an onerous burden on leaders who were expected to understand and comply with it.
Mr Nero told the workshop that from the Ombudsman Commission’s experience, the main challenges that leaders faced, apart from lack of appreciation and understanding of the Code, were:
* Lack of understanding of the machinery and process of government;
* Expectations and demand of voters;
* Lack of proper advice; and
* Pressure from customary obligations.
“It is important that people in positions of responsibility and leadership have a sense of personal appreciation of their ethical and legal duties and responsibilities as leaders and that these people are not driven to hold on to the positions because of the privileges that come with the job but with a sense of commitment to the responsibilities and sacrifice that it entails,” he said.
“This applies to elected leaders as well as public servants.”
On understanding processes of government, Mr Nero, among other things, said appointments to positions of leadership and trust in the public sector, as in the private sector, must be merit-based to be able to secure the best people with the necessary skills and qualifications for the job.
On voters’ expectations, he said a major challenge for elected leaders was the apparent pressure exerted by the often excessive and sometimes unnecessary demand of voters which “we are all too familiar with”.
“This appears to be a cultural issue and the expectation is that it will change over time with education and awareness.
“However, 30 years on, there seem to be very little change of behaviour in this regard.
Mr Nero told the workshop that there was lack of proper advice because time and time again, the Ombudsman Commission saw evidence of misconduct by leaders as a result of lack of proper advice given by advisers who were either unqualified to advise on matters of significance or who were corrupt themselves.
“The challenge here is for leadership at the national level to require a level of learning and understanding of the machinery and procedures of government that enhances the ability of the person to perform his or her role to the required standard of service delivery and also to set an example of what good leadership is all about. “There is no two way about this.”