As the Federal Government prepares to formalise its ad-hoc whistleblower policy through legislation, it was revealed on Tuesday that it had so far recovered over N700 billion from the use of the initiative.
At the national conference on the whistleblower policy in Nigeria in Abuja, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo the policy, which “presents a unique opportunity for men and women of conscience who are appalled by the level of corruption in the society and are looking for safe avenues to expose the perpetrators of such corrupt activities to do so in a way that their identities are protected and their positions in their places of work are secured.” was developed as a tool towards the exposure of corruption and corrupt actors in government.
Osinbajo urged the developers of the new whistleblower bill to expand the scope of wrongful acts that may be reported by whistleblowers.
“It appears that under the current policy, whistleblowing is only with respect to acts of corruption. However, there is a whole range of issues that may not endanger public finance directly but may constitute public safety or security risks.”
He suggested that the law should also provide for comprehensive protection of whistleblowers, including against reprisals from their employers and those whose activities they expose, which may include witness protection type provisions should the whistleblower have to appear in court.”
The ability of our government to deliver on promises in the areas of human capital development, provision of quality infrastructure and the general economic progress of the country the vice president said “depends significantly on the protection of the scarce resources from being looted and its application for the benefit of Nigerian citizens.”
Earlier, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed had explained that the money came through recoveries and the cleaning of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), stoppage of non-compliance with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and violations of the procurement Act 2007, etc.”
She lamented that at the inception of the whistleblower policy there was widespread enthusiasm as Nigerians volunteered numerous actionable information.
Such information or tips she said were referred for further investigation by the EFCC, ICPC, NFIU or DSS.
“However, after some time, interest in the implementation of the policy nosedived.
“Our attempt to reawaken public interest on the policy did not quite materialise. It was then we realized that there was apparent confusion in the public mind on several issues,” she said.
To address these issues, a Committee with representatives from anti-graft and security agencies chaired by a representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice was set up to draft a Whistle Blower Bill, taking into account all the complaints received from the public and the observations of the various stakeholders.