Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 5 April 2016 | 3,092 times
A profession without a code of ethics for its members would be open to abuse as an all-comers affair, Prof. Uche Ikonne has said.
“Ethics is the active ingredient that makes your endeavour to be recognised as a profession, otherwise, it becomes an all-comers affair,” Ikonne, who is the Vice Chancellor of Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU), said on Monday in Umuahia.
The Professor of Optometry, who was a special guest at the NUJ monthly congress, spoke on the importance of code of ethics for professionals. He enjoined journalists to adhere strictly to the provisions of its Code of Ethics in order to retain peoples’ confidence.
He argued that despite meeting the legal prescriptions to be branded a profession, if the practitioners do not put up a code of ethics that would define the conduct of the prospective practitioners, such a profession would not gain public confidence.
“What makes what you are doing a profession,” Ikonne asserted, “is the long training and apprenticeship you received.”
He went on: “Then, we look at what government does to confirm that what you are doing is a profession. We know what we call the legal code, that if you want what you are doing to be a profession, that the government has to recognise what you are doing; there has to be a legislation which the public will know and that defines the specified period of training and where you will get the training in an accredited institution, those who are qualified to belong to that profession and when you graduate, you will register with that body, you have become a professional.”
He added: “Government, after making the legislation, will set up a regulatory body that will make sure that members of that endeavour are agreed with what is specified in the legal code. With that, what you are doing becomes a profession.
“When you belong to that profession, there are some privileges that you enjoy but it is for you to sustain the interest of the public that you are serving because it is not enough to have a law, if the people you are serving don’t have interest in you, there is always alternative.
“If you do not conduct yourself in a manner to retain the confidence of the public you are serving, you lose that professionalism in spite of the law that may be in existence. That is why the profession now looks inwards and enunciates for practitioners, a body of regulations which we call Code of Ethics.”
Prof. Ikonne maintained that “the intrinsic value in what you are doing that makes you a professional is embedded in the code of ethics.”
He equally submitted that “if there is no ethics in what you are doing, there is no professionalism.”
According to the Vice Chancellor, “It is not enough to make government to legislate on what you are doing, but for the public to retain that confidence in you and for you to attract the respect you require, there must be some code of ethics guiding your conduct.”
He said that although the contents of the code of ethics would be unknown to the public, he said, it would “form a pattern of behavior which the public can observe and say people who belong this profession, this is how they behave, that it is obvious to the public that if somebody behaves outside what they know is the pattern of behaviour of that group, they say something is wrong with the person.”
He praised Abia-based journalists for their professional conduct and urged them not to indulge in biased sensational reporting.
Ikonne promised to partner the union in his strides to give ABSU a new face through his “Our story must change” mandate.
The ABSU helmsman used the occasion to present to members of Abia State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) the union’s 2016 national identity card.
Responding, the Chairman of NUJ, Abia Council, Comrade John Emejor, expressed gratitude to the Vice Chancellor for honouring the Council with his presence and for enlightening members on the importance of ethics in the profession.
Emejor informed his guest that the Council has put in place, an Ethics and Disciplinary Committee to handle cases of ethical misconduct brought against members.
•Photo shows ABSU VC, Prof. Uche Ikonne.
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