Citizens should blow the whistle on all forms of corrupt practices – Panelists • • Whistleblower bill underway says FG

By Doyin Ojosipe

Nigerians have been urged to not only focus on exposing public fund’s thievery but also to blow the whistle on all corrupt practices. This was the position of panelists at a radio town hall meeting organized by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) in collaboration with the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG).

The town hall meeting held at Raypower 100.5 FM focused on five years of the whistleblowing policy and what citizens need to know and is part of the activities of AFRICMIL’s whistle-blowing project tagged Corruption Anonymous (CORA), supported by the John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation.

Speaking at the event, one of the panelists, Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, said the focus on corruption as if it were just about looting was wrong. He said other vices like nepotism, favoritism, sectionalism, and the use of personal influence to the detriment of others are all enablers of corruption and must be exposed and dealt with.

Dahiru explained that these vices have gotten those who would consent and co-operate with the actual fraud planted in strategic places.
He also pointed out that many civil servants have not blown the whistle because allegations get exposed before they are being investigated, thereby making a caricature of the policy and endangering whistleblowers

Another panelist, Ezenwa Nwagwu, Convener of SayNoCampaign however said Nigerians need to understand the concept of whistle-blowing and act by it.
He said, “If you are sure that your country will gain from your anti-corruption initiative, if your country lacks good roads, inadequate and or lack of drugs in hospitals, lack of quality health care services, workers cannot be paid their salaries as at when due, then we should know that all these are connected to the fact that some people are taking what does not belong to them and taking what belongs to all of us.”

Nwagwu said the motivation for exposing corruption should therefore be that Nigerians are able to regain their rights to a better standard of living, instead of exposing corruption based on inducement.
He said Nigerians should be sure of being protected if they have to blow the whistle, noting that there was a need to widen discussions about the whistleblowing policy and explore the options of having a whistleblower law so that whistleblowers can be well protected. He pointed out that no Nigerian would blow the whistle when they know the outcome of their actions does not have a law to address them.

On his part, Johnson Oludare, Assistant Director at the Federal Ministry of Finance who also heads the whistleblowing unit of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), said Nigerians need to do away with the culture of silence and expose corruption as the whistleblower protection bill was on its way to being passed into law. He said corruption persists because many Nigerians feel looting of public treasury was turn by turn and that when they have the opportunity, they will act in a similar manner.

Oludare noted that Nigerians should always remember that the country belongs to everyone and that the anticorruption fight should be all-inclusive.

Vivian Bello of Social Action said women should get involved in whistleblowing as the effects of corruption are on everyone. She said the proposed whistleblowing law should have special provisions to encourage women to blow the whistle.

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