Corruption: FG urged to institutionalize whistleblowing policy

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Federal Government has been urged to institutionalize the whistleblowing policy in Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to enhance proper implementation of the policy.

This was part of the recommendations contained Survey on 5 Years of Whistleblowing Policy in Nigeria, presented by AFRICMIL with support from the MacArthur Foundation, on Tuesday in Abuja.

The reviewer, Acting Executive Director, Dataphyte, Adenike Aloba noted that the survey assessed the level of citizen awareness of the policy and their willingness to expose corrupt practices and to also know the perceptions of government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

According to her, findings revealed that 98.2 per cent of Nigerians perceived corruption as a serious problem and evidence showed that respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the information available to them on whistleblowing policy in addressing the needs of women, persons with disabilities and other minority groups in Nigeria.

She further noted that findings revealed that legislative protection and monetary reward for whistle-blowers were considered as key motivators for potential whistle-blowers, adding that overall evidences from both quantitative and qualitative data showed that while the whistleblowing policy recorded some achievements, its impact in curbing corruption remained minimal.

Moreso, she said findings revealed that this is due to several barriers including lack of legislation protection, limited funding, insufficient data ,lack of political will, limited knowledge , poor reporting, controversial compensating mechanisms ,wide retaliation among others fact.

Aloba said that based on the findings, the report therefore made recommendations to various stakeholders, prominent among these was that the Federal Government should provide appropriate mechanism to institutionalise the policy in MDAs to enhance implementation.

She said,”The federal government should provide appropriate mechanism to institutionalize the whistleblowing policy in MDAs to enhance proper implementation of the policy.

“The federal government should collaborate with the National Assembly to ensure that the proposed whistleblowing and whistleblower protection bill is passed and signed into law before the end of this current administration.

“The federal, states, and local governments should partner with International development partners to whistleblowing as an essential component of the fight against corruption and other forms of wrongdoing.”

She said also recommended that the Ministries of Finance and Budget and National Planning should collate statistics of whistleblowing cases investigated and evidence of recovered fund and compensation.

According to her, the move would encourage the culture of accountability and transparency for potential whistle-blowers.

She called on state governments to embrace the policy and adopt a multi-sectorial approach to institutional and the National Assembly should review and pass the policy before the end of their tenure.

She urged the Minister of Finance to ensure that the circular issued to all anti-corruption became a policy document to maintain the culture of accountability and transparency for compensation of whistle-blowers.

The Coordinator, AFRICMIL, Chido Onumah, remarked that in the last four years AFRICMIL with the support of the John D. and the Macarthur Foundation, has been working on a project tagged Corruption Anonymous (CORA) designed to mobilize citizens to key into the whistleblowing policy which the Nigerian government announced in the December 2016 as a mechanism for fighting corruption in the country.

He said AFRICMIL engaged this project on three main focus which include, creating awareness on the importance of whistleblowing as an effective anti-corruption weapon, promoting honest implementation of the policy, and advocating effective protection for citizens who show the courage to blow the whistle.

According to him, in ensuring the success of each of these areas, AFRICMIL has had a good working relationship with Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), a unit in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning that is responsible for managing the whistleblowing policy, among other stakeholders.

stressed that the whistleblowing initiative represents the time government will be using a policy instrument to ask for citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption.

He therefore noted that the objective of the survey is to assess the impact of the Whistleblowing policy in addressing corrupt practices in the country.

“The objective of this survey is to catalogue the impact of the Whistleblowing policy in addressing corrupt practices and other wrongdoing in Nigeria.

“We feel is important for us to know why people are willing or not willing to blow the whistle and how well the protection mechanism has worked.

“Of course the protection of whistleblower against retaliation is key to the effectiveness of the Whistleblowing regime.

“AFRICMIL also wanted to learn from this project how whistleblowing will of Nigeria’s fight against corruption. The goal is to whistleblowing to an acceptable tool for exposing corruption and other forms of wrongdoing that endager society,” he said.

hinted that AFRICMIL is also working on a safe and secure whistleblowing platform which was put together in collaboration with the Yar’dua Foundation.

According to him, the platform when launched will offer citizens an avenue to report corrupt practices anonymously, adding that the objective is to enlist citizens to support the fight against corruption by providing information to anti-corruption agencies.

Also Speaking, the Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti – Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Sadiq Radda said corruption is not an elite problem, but a problem that affects all Nigerians, adding that everybody is corrupt in one way or the order.

He stressed that anti- corruption agencies, security authorities, the police and regulatory bodies cannot be everywhere and that this underscores the need for whistleblowing to enable the appropriate authority take action.

“The fight against corruption will continue, this is because we are convinced that without fighting corruption we will not have a country like this.

“Corruption is not just an elite problem, everybody is aware of corruption, at least we are witnesses of corruption, we are victims of corruption, even some of us or even all of us are in one way or the order corrupt.

“So the problem of corruption is not new to anyone, is a human problem that we have created ourselves therefore requires human efforts to address it. Nobody will do this for us is our duty, in this regard whatever efforts put into the means of fighting corruption in Nigeria is welcomed. And that is why always fascinated with the activities of AFRICMIL focused at the very heart of fighting corruption, trying to blow the whistle, working with the media, investigative journalism, physical reporting, etc.

“As a Committee in the business of whistle blowing, believing that our anti – corruption agencies, security authorities, police, regulatory bodies are not everywhere but the people who perpetrate Corruption are everywhere, in our country, therefore somebody has to say something is going on wrong somewhere for the authority to take action, that is why whistleblowing is very important,” he said.

Prof. Radda who assured that the committee would continue to support AFRICMIL in its efforts in addressing the issues of corruption identified there major challenges facing the business of whistleblowing in Nigeria.

According to him, these challenges include fear by the whistleblower, monetization of the Whistleblowing process, and lack of respect for the protocol of blowing the whistle.

He therefore advised that are willing to engage in the whistleblowing business to eschew fear, not allow pecuniary benefit override their real purpose of the business and realize that is for the interest of the country, and to respect the protocol in blowing the whistle.

Represented at the occasion include the EFCC, ICPC, NOA, CSOs, among other stakeholders.