This profile was prepared when Chibuzo Ekwekwuo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Chibuzo is helping to solve the problem of widespread corruption among Nigerian government officials. Previous efforts to address high-level corruption have been based on the premise that citizens are either victims or pawns of those in power, and hence, they are powerless to effect meaningful change. Chibuzo, who believes that it is up to the people to make democracy function effectively, has created the first initiative that is addressing the issue of corrupt leadership in Nigeria as a consequence of ineffective "follower-ship." Chibuzo believes the foundation of an effective civil society can be forged through elected politicians being held accountable by the courts, citizens and local leaders. Citizens need to be educated to see the correlation between corrupt leadership and lack of public investment, he argues, and a new generation of young people must learn that politics in a democracy is a noble profession. Based on these convictions, Chibuzo works to re-educate and reorient Nigerians toward becoming active, ethical participants in the democratic process. He achieves this objective through taking legal action against erring government officials and through offering civic education through radio, television, schools, and his own direct involvement in community issues. His approach can be replicated in places where other relatively new democracies are encountering challenges similar to those Chibuzo is addressing in Nigeria.