Today the Nigerian Ombudsman Institution, the Public Complaints Commission joins other countries of the world to mark the fifth annual International Ombudsman Day which comes with a call to all avenues of redress to rededicate themselves to the service of humanity where ever they are. This year’s theme for the celebration which is; ‘Diverse Role, United in service’ is pertinent and well-timed considering that the world is more complex and the challenges faced by people are increasing daily. The consequence of the present global happenings has brought about increase in conflicts in organizations in all levels in the globe. Here in Nigeria, our country is confronted with colossal challenges that loom over governance and unsettles our democracy. The services of the Ombudsman are needed now more than ever to provide succor for the people and give guidance to the authorities.
The expansion of the Ombudsman institution right from the world of the Scandinavians in 1809 to the present age has happened with a breath taking speed. There are a few organizations in the word that have recorded such fast expansion and with such acceptance globally. The fundamental business of the Ombudsman is to detect corruption, improper conduct of officials, eliminate maladministration and ensure the rule of law. The primary role of the institution wherever it is established gives attention to this primary business, additional mandates notwithstanding.
The mandates of the Ombudsman vary according to the political, economic and social conditions of the country or organization in which they exist. In recent times countries and institutions have realized the need to adopt the ombudsman in their bureaucracies. Without much regards to the differences in the roles of the ombudsman there are unique similarities among us; our independence and primary function which is to handle complaints against governments or organizations with the fundamental goal of contributing to good administration, transparent and accountable to the people.
Despite the divergence that exist in some of our mandate, we have common interest and common goal which is to improve the quality of democracy enjoyed by our respective communities; to provide for them an unending prospect to have an effective review of complaints and allay fears about service delivery and provide remedy for injustice and unfairness. Such diversities only exist to suit the situations of the countries or organization we belong but our services are strategically molded to fit circumstances and needs of the individuals we serve.
Our services are fashioned uniquely and appropriately to suit our economic, social, political setting as well as the beliefs, culture and norms of the people we serve. Our work should assure the people we serve that we represent an effective instrument that promote the right to good administration and the right to a government that revere human rights, is accountable and devoid of corruption.
Authorities must realize that the ombudsman is not just a faultfinder but a partner in the search for solutions to the challenges faced by the people. It is only through the activities of the Ombudsman that the government can discover the grievances suffered by the people and recreate their relationship with them. We serve as mediators between the people and the authorities that rule them. The Ombudsman is the steering wheel of democracy. It is our responsibility to ensure that the people’s right to raise issues is fully available to all sectors of the public. Government should create an enabling environment for us to serve appropriately.
On this historic day, I urge the Ombudsman – institutions to consolidate their essential characteristics to make the institution successful and set standard for operation which are compatible with the noble concept of the Ombudsman to make it more famous and credible. As the world get more complicated and the yearning of the people for succor grow daily, it has become necessary for us to ensure that we serve the people in all places whose lives consist of myriads of problem. It is hoped that through our service the concepts of justice, human rights, freedom and respect for human dignity will be a reality to our people. We are all pursuing the same goal to recreate a fair society which dignifies human beings.
I call on the people of Nigeria for whom we exist and are ready to serve; to always take advantage of the services provided by our noble institution to air their grievances and never to resort to violence. We assure you that the Public Complaints Commission will always be here for you.