By Mohammed Adamu
IS the ‘whistle blower’ who gets paid also a ‘patriot’? Or do true patriots have to be paid to blow the whistle on crimes that put everyone in harm’s way? A Pentagon whistle blower, Ernie Fitzgerald, was the one who described ‘whistle blowing’ as “committing the truth”. It was his own way of stating the reverse of ‘committing a crime’. Those who pervert the ‘truth’ by perpetrating an ‘offence’ are said to ‘commit a crime’; and for which the law exacts punishment. Conversely those who ‘tell the truth’ to expose ‘crime’, -in the vengeful perception of those that they expose- are said to be guilty of ‘committing the truth’. And often too they are also made to pay for their ‘truth’. And this is what ‘corruption’ is reputed to do whenever it gets into ‘fight back’ mode: it seeks to punish those who have dared to ‘commit the truth’ by exposing graft.
In a sense therefore ‘truth telling’ is essentially at the heart of the ‘whistle blowing’ novelty. Exposing falsehood, or squealing on wrongdoers. And which by the way, should be the duty of all true lovers of country, who should be prepared always to ‘commit the truth’ in order to expose those whose ‘perversion of truth’ puts society in harm’s way. But any people that will –for sectional motives- imprudently look the other way when the extravagant sons of the land deliberately put their country in harm’s way, is doomed inevitably to stew in its own blitheness.
Police informants of old
The term ‘whistle blower’ is ‘novel’ only to the extent that it is merely avant-garde and a trendy renaissance of its old name ‘police informant’. We have always had whistle blowers. Only we did not call them whistle blowers. And most of our ‘police informants’ of old –unlike our whistle blowers of today- were genuine patriots who did not have to squeal on enemies of the State for pecuniary reasons. Which is not to suggest that they did not receive operational tokens as encouragement to expose wrong doers. Our Police informants primarily offered useful information to law enforcement agents chiefly because they saw it as a duty incumbent upon them to play their part in bringing about a better society.
But not any more. Most Nigerians today are not ready to love their country more than they love their constituencies. And now even with the chance of a life time offered to ‘whistle blowers’ to be legitimately rich, (courtesy of the 5% offered by government), many will not help the State to uncover high crimes and misdemeanors perpetrated by lords and lieges that they know. In fact, not a few Nigerians will rather be looters themselves taking the whole 100% than, for a meager five per cent, wait for a ‘patriotic chance’ to blow the whistle on some otherwise ‘lucky’ dude who has managed to ‘achieve’ what they hope someday to ‘achieve’ too.
Little wonder the ‘Whistle blower’s Survival Guide’ produced by the Washington ‘Fund for Constitutional Government’, describes whistle blowing as ‘courage without martyrdom’. It takes only genuine lovers of country, without the motivation of any mundane benefit, to do. Said an American Iowa Senator, Charles Grassley, everywhere “courageous and self-sacrificing individuals come forward to tell the truth (by whistle blowing) under highly adverse circumstances. They contribute enormously to the public good”.
But not in Nigeria. Many of us are either too cowardly and will not take the risk even when there is something in it for us, or we are too self-seeking that our courage is only directed at feeding our insatiable avarice. Someone posted on Facebook a hypothetical scenario: he wanted to know what his Facebook friends would do if they came upon a cache of millions of dollars in some derelict graveyard, a rundown soak-away or any of the ubiquitous hide-always that have bizarrely come to symbolise the search for looted funds in Nigeria today. Would they blow the whistle and be content with a ‘meager’ five percent, or would they –if they could get away with it- rather keep all? And nearly seventy percent of those who responded said ‘to hell with five per cent!’ They’ll rather keep every dime of it. One said -with some kind of righteous indignation- “Me, blow whistle ke? I be referee?”
Offended by corruption
And you wonder what kind of people we are, Nigerians? We are offended by corruption but only because it is not us or our own that have the opportunity to perpetrate it. We are disgusted by obscene wealth (whether earned or un-earned) but only because it does not belong to us or to someone that we are beneficially connected with. We are appalled by the sight of looted funds but only because we are not the ‘lucky’, avidly greedy ‘finders’ who –if they have their way- would be happy to keep every dime rather than be ‘patriots’ who blow the whistle on it for some ‘measly five percent’.
In our Nigeria of today, we have neither gratuitous, patriotic volunteers of useful information to help law enforcement fight crime nor do we even have duty-loving law enforcement agents prepared or able to process such information for the benefit of society. We have become so selfishly lazy that even when we pray that God enriches us, we do not have in mind ‘working hard’ to make that prayer come to pass.
What we have in mind is that someday an opportunity from God or even from Mammon will present itself to make us instant billionaires: it could be God himself, just for our own sake, resuming his gratuity by dropping for us ‘manna’ of dollars from heaven; or it could be the devil leading us to stealing what does not belong to us or even to some other forms of theft by default, like playing ‘Monte Carlo’, ‘beggar-my-neighbour’, ‘MMM’ or any one of numerous exploitative on-line and cable promos that include, nowadays, even turning our aged parents into some ridiculous break dancers –in the hope of winning jackpots.
Everything but working hard legitimately to achieve. Our so called banking gurus licensed by law to keep our monies -in trust-have become worse than the burglars that we fear may break into our homes. They steal all the money and collapse the banks; our clergies and so called ‘men of God’ mop up all our kobo-kobo to buy jets and to build private universities that we can’t send our children to; our judges, for morsels, sell justice to the highest bidders; our legislators make laws to legitimise stealing; our lawyers are paid humongous fees to mystify the law in order to set the corrupt free; our journalists are paid by desperate politicians to misinform or to under-inform in order to create schism in the society; the abjectly poor who should direct their anger at the real enemy, are paid pittance to kill each other in the name of partisan thugry; teachers are ready to be paid, and parents are happy to pay for academic grades or certificates for their un-schooled children’
And now we are beginning to have self-acclaimed ‘whistle blowers’ so desperate that they even give false information in the foolish hope that they will make money. The irony being that whistle blowers who are said to be in the patriotic duty of ‘committing the truth’ to expose crime, are now ‘committing crime’ in the hope of dubiously benefiting from a noble duty’
SAID the anti-corruption psalmist “One thing is certain. With the truth on their side, individuals can make a difference. Whistle blowers are the Achilles heel of organisational misconduct, if they bear witness when it counts. Used strategically, truth is still the most powerful political weapon in our society, capable of defeating money and entrenched political machines. Armed with the truth, whistle blowing Davids repeatedly have exposed and defeated Goliaths who put goals of economic or political power above the public interest”. Genuine whistle blowers in other climes do it not for the money, but for the glory. It is a shame here that we have to get paid –from the loot- to squeal.
Re-‘IBB: The rich also wed’
+2348062887535:- “I pity those who die for politicians, over what they will get from them- concerning the recent IBB’s daughter’s wedding where friends and foes (politicians) gathered in Minna to honour IBB. All of them wined and dined together despite their party differences. We should be wise when it comes to our so called politicians because they will send you to your early grave because of power and they would be enjoying themselves with our commonwealth”. –Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia.
Online:– “You have said it all. Many stinking guests who ‘the fresh Minna air by their presence at the Hill Top did so as a way of getting a way round the EFCC. It is well that you got an unsolicited, I dare say, surprise IV to Halimah’s event. Me? I was among the few who did not merit an IV, which is not surprising, anyway. What is more, I passed off the opportunity to be another ‘naut’ at the event when I politely turned down the ‘golden’ opportunity’ of joining the modest entourage of an invited VIP”.-Abdulrazaq Magaji.
Online:– “How fast you are now becoming, ‘that gad-fly of boy in Minna’ they must often say. Throwing a glare and wicked stare your way. rankadade, spare them not the barbs and succinct garbs. More of the Muse, flow and the gush of your inky scrawl”. -Thomas Brown Usman Wamba.