The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has identified early detection and exposure of mismanagement and theft of public funds and other illicit acts as effective strategies in fight against corruption.
Coordinator, Mr Chido Onumah made the call in Awka, Anambra State at a one-day stepdown training for Community Based Organizations to strengthen stakeholders’ capacity on the Whistle-blowing policy.
Onuma, represented by Senior Program Officer, Godwin Onyeacholem urged Nigerians to take advantage of various platform created by Civil Society Organizations to expose corrupt practices, particularly in view of lack of trust on the part of government.
He disclosed that the training supported by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, was part of AFRICMIL programme that focused on media, information, research, advocacy and training, with a view to enhance democracy, good governance, promotion of accountability and orderly society.
He said, “As we all are aware, combating corruption through early detection and exposure of mismanagement, bribery, fraud, theft of public funds and other illicit acts is an effective strategy in the fight against corruption.
“Whistleblowing has proven to be the most direct method of exposing corrupt acts. We want to ensure that people across communities are aware.”
Onumah further urged President Mohammadu Buhari led administration to ensure the whistle blowing policy is passed into law before its expiration.
He also called for inclusion of rewards for whistle blowing without financial recovery, as well as adequate protection for the blowers.
He said, “The whistle blowing which is still at the level of policy, can easily be disregarded by next government if not backed up by law. But that won’t be possible if there’s a law enacted and passed by National Assembly.
“The federal government through the Ministry of Justice and Finance are working on law to back up whistle blowing policy, we expect that before the expiration of this present administration, there will be a whistle blowing law.
“In that law, they should include reward for people whose whistle blowing doesn’t include financial recovery and other stuffs. They should find a way of rewarding such persons. That’s one major way of encouraging whistle blowing.
“The other thing is to ensure people are adequately protected because their safety is very important in whistle blowing. There must be a robust law in whistle blowing legislation ensuring protection.
“We also want government to build people’s confidence in reporting corruption through whistle blowing. This we intend doing through enlightenment of those managing whistle blowing policy to be honest and try to protect persons that suffer victimization.”
Coordinator of Civil Society Organisations in Anambra State, Prince Chris Azor explained that the decision to step down the training was to ensure people at the grassroots were well-equipped to report corruption and other negative practices.
“It’s a constitutional mandate for the people take active part in their governance and citizens must embrace this charge wholesomely.
“The deadly culture of silence among the people drives the sustained perpetration of corruption. People must be more concerned about saving the society first and not the monetary gain they get after blowing the whistle.
“If we really want to fight corruption, it must be with a bottom to top approach.
“Corruption finds expression in the death of that pregnant woman, in the death of that accident victim, in the non-provision of basic facilities and so on.”
Special Assistant to Governor Soludo on Environment, Mr Nchedo Ezenwegbu observed that a major inhibiting factor to effective whistleblowing is the lack of security for whistle-blowers.
He suggested that government reviews the protection systems for the whistle-blower even to the point of reward, to encourage people to blow the whistle on wrongdoings observed in their climes.
In a presentation, Chair, Nigerian National Peace Building and Conflict Prevention Committee for Rotary International, District 9142, Nigeria, Dennis Ekemezie harped on the need for whistle-blowers to be strategic and cautious in reporting corruption and wrongdoing.
He emphasized that while it is important that people blow the whistle on wrongdoings, it is more important for whistle-blowers to stay alive after the reporting.
“Whistle blowing is all about public interest and not to be used for personal gains.
“There is need for whistle-blowers to investigate cases to report appropriately.
“Reporters must be knowledgeable in what they want to investigate and also be strategic.
“They should also learn to keep their actions secret and resist the temptation of boasting about what they have done because they can be putting themselves in trouble.
“This is because sometimes, the beneficiaries of these corrupt practices are highly connected and very dangerous and may go to any length to sustain their negative venture.
“So, the whistle-blower must be smart in what he or she is doing,” he said.
Also speaking, Chairman, National Peace Building and Conflict Prevention for Rotary International Nigeria, Dr. Dennis Ekemezie stressed the need for whistleblowers to be smart, intelligent and viligant in the act of Whistleblowing, adding that persuasive communication and use of strategic plan should be applied in achieving results.
He enjoined whistleblowers to be patient once they report issues concerning corruption as stakeholders in the fight against corruption such as Civil Society, EFCC, ICPC, National Intelligence, DSS and the Police Force usually carry out independent investigation, collate the report and come up with the required results.