Call for more media engagement
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Following frustration voiced out by the Buhari-led administration over poor participation of Nigerians in the Whistleblower Policy after six years it was introduced to upscale fight against corruption, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, weekend, told the Federal Government to make policy attractive and transparent.
Speaking with Vanguard on the failure, collapse and way forward about the Whistleblower policy, the CSOs including Africa Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Concerned Nigerians, and others said the fight against corruption in Nigeria is just a lip-service as more looting is ongoing at various levels and scale.
Lack of political will killed interest of Nigerians in Whistleblower policy -ANEEJ
The Executive Director, Africa Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Reverend David Ugolor, said lack of political will killed interest of Nigerians in Whistleblower policy.
Ugolor said: “The citizens welcome the whistle blowing policy but the government was unable to implement it because of conflict of interest and lack of political will at the leadership level.
“As a result of this the citizens could not trust government and decided to ignore the policy.
“Those who made efforts to blow the whistle could not share good experience which could have encouraged others to participate in the policy.”
However, the ANEEJ boss in his view and solution said, “For whistleblowing policy to work you have to establish a trust environment but our government people could not deliver on the issues of trust.
“If the government is serious then I will suggest they provide the enabling environment for the people to participate.
“The key is building trust culture and providing support for law enforcement officials to work with the public to unpack serious crimes.”
EFCC failed to involve influential voices, faces in fight- CN
According to the Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Deji Adeyanju, the Federal Government and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, failed to involve influential voices and faces in Whistleblower policy, hence its less attraction and collapse.
Adeyanju said: “The federal government, has refused to make the policy attractive.
“Nigerians and citizens world over, we always forget policies or active policies once it is not not spoken about all the time.
“So what the federal government failed to do about the policies that they refuse to apply the public principle of reputation, both in the media space, social media, and keep the policy ever afresh in the minds of people.
“They also failed to get influential voices and faces involved in the policy because Nigerians were not able to see how successful the
policies were. So that is one of the reasons why Nigerians have jettisoned interests in the policy.
“If there is a way the government had planned, constant reminder for the policy, highlighting the success of the policy, and citizens who have benefited from whistleblowing, civil servants who have benefited from whistleblowing.
“Government don’t have to hide or reveal full identity or full disclosure, but to say, we paid this particular citizen, N1 billion because since we did the policy we paid N100 million or N200 million that would make people know that there is incentive for reporting or whistleblowing.
So the policy will we be a front burner issue in the country.
However, there were so many people that complained that they reported, EFCC was owing them, EFCC has not paid them, and all that.
“Those are some of the reasons why the policy has completely failed.”
However he said, “All hope is not lost, Federal Government can reintroduce the policy and back it up with aggressive media campaigns, social media campaigns, get so many famous people involved in the policy, marketing, and advertising the policy and all that.
“That is one way that the federal government can rejig and encourage Nigerians to actively participate in the whistleblowing policy.
“On the way to go about citizens’ participation, more incentives should be should be put in place for people to actively participate in the policy.”
Meanwhile, Legal Practitioner and Public Affairs Analyst, Atambi Ade, said, “The government should guarantee people their security when they blow the whistle.
“Secondly, it boils down to the sincerity of the people pursuing this fight against corruption, and if that is properly established then other strategies would follow including the whistleblower policy.
“Patriotism is also key on the policy because those involved need to show that and with that we all being citizens of this country will join the fight because we are partners in the fight against corruption.
“Another issue is people who were arrested, Government treated them with kid-gloves and this discouraged the people to get involved.
“For instance, look at the case of the money discovered in a flat in Ikoyi, Lagos; at the airport in Kaduna, the issue involving an NNPC personnel, and others.
“Another thing about all these cases is our friends in the media don’t follow up these cases for Nigerians to know the development. The media need to follow up to the end.
“Right now we don’t know what has happened to those blowing whistle; how many of them were actually rewarded, some have cried out that their lives have been threatened and all that. When people hear such stories they lose interest instantly.
“The process of reward for whistleblowers is too cumbersome for people to get their money promised by the government.
“The EFCC failed to brief Nigerians on the fight against corruption band the status of the whistleblower policy and its impacts, results, how much recovered, how many whistleblowers rewarded and also their challenges and assure Nigerians of their safety if they report corruption cases, but failed to do that.
“We are not saying EFCC should give us details but just basic information about the fight against corruption.”