December 2, 2021

5yrs of whistleblowing: Nigerians still afraid of reporting corruption, FG laments

FRSC, Akin Fadeyi Foundation partner on corruption fight

•Wants greater focus on corruption in IDP camps

By Omeiza Ajayi

Five years after it introduced the whistleblower policy to help combat corruption in the country, the Federal Government has lamented the reluctance of Nigerians to report incidences of corruption, challenging them to be ready to pay the supreme price for the development of the nation.

Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti Corruption PACAC, Prof. Sadiq Isah Raddah, stated this yesterday in Abuja at the public presentation of the report of a survey on five years of whistle-blowing policy in Nigeria which was undertaken by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL.

He also challenged anti-corruption advocates in the country to beam their focus on humanitarian interventions, saying there was seeming malfeasance in the distribution of relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs.

Raddah said:  “The fight against corruption as far as PACAC is concerned will continue. This is because we are convinced that without fighting corruption, we will have a country.

“Corruption is human and requires human efforts to eliminate it. We began the issue of whistle-blowing, believing that our anti-graft agencies cannot be everywhere but the people who perpetrate corruption are everywhere in the country.

”Therefore, somebody has to say something is going wrong somewhere for the authorities to take action.

“Since the idea of whistleblowing began, we have realised some problems by people who want to blow the whistle. Yes, it is good to be afraid but if you become captive of fear and you want to be righteous, you end up being a captive without delivering.

”I have always said we must be willing to pay the price for doing what is good, including losing our lives.

“I have said several times that nobody wants to die but it is not bad to die while trying to pursue what is good. So people who want to blow the party history across the country, please try not to be afraid but indeed don’t be careless.

“Whistle blowing should extend to assets declaration. Now we have the Companies and Allied Matters Act CAMA and you can take advantage of it. People should learn to declare their assets in this country because you cannot be in government and three months later, you own estates, filling stations and hotels everywhere. It is not possible.

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“The second issue we need to pay attention to is about humanitarian interventions in this country. There are many IDPs all over the country. Please, AFRICMIL, pay your attention to what happens regarding the delivery of humanitarian services across our country.

”A lot of money is coming from within and outside the country but it doesn’t seem to be going to the right people. The quantum and the quality is not delivered to the target audience and we are ready to work with you to ensure that these two issues are addressed.”

In his welcome address, Coordinator, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL, Dr Chido Onumah, said in the last four years, AFRICMIL, with the support of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, had 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 December 2016 as a mechanism for fighting corruption in the country.

“This month marks five years since the introduction of the whistleblowing policy. To assess its performance over this period, AFRICMIL commissioned a survey in July targeting 7000 respondents in six states across the six geopolitical zones as well as Abuja.

”The survey involved key informant interviews with revenue-generating MDAs, anti-graft agencies, media, civil society groups and other stakeholders. It also featured online respondents from the public, including professionals, youths, students, academic institutions, artisans, market women, religious leaders and organized labour,” he stated.

The 56-page report revealed that an overwhelming majority (98.2%) of Nigerians perceived corruption as a serious problem and menace in the country.

“Although majority of Nigerians are aware of the whistleblowing policy, one quarter of the respondents are unwilling to report any form of corrupt practices while 3 of every 4 respondents have stopped reporting cases of looted funds due to nepotism, fear of victimization/stigmatization, lack of knowledge on the kind of information to report and the appropriate channel to report as well as the feeling that no serious action will be taken by the authorities in charge, even if a report is made.

“Evidence showed that respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the information available to them about the whistleblowing policy in addressing the needs of women, persons with disabilities, and other minority groups in Nigeria.

“Findings revealed that legislative protection and monetary reward for whistleblowers were considered as key motivators for potential whistleblowers. Sadly, only one of every 4 Nigerians is somewhat satisfied with the available channel for reporting corrupt practices.

”Television and radio jingles were considered as effective means of enlightening the public about the policy,” the report added.

The report advised the federal government to provide appropriate mechanism to institutionalize the whistleblowing policy in Ministries, Departments and Agencies, 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. This will help to sustain whistleblowing beyond the current administration.

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

Vanguard News Nigeria