WHISTLEBLOWING – A WAY TO GO FOR NIGERIA?
The Minister of Finance recently announced incentives for whistleblowers as one of the strategies of combating corruption. Since the announcement, the social media has been agog with reactions ranging from: let’s wait and see, to hilarious, and to more bizarre comments like don’t mind them they are confused, etc. I would like to address the issue by being academic, and maybe realistic.
What is Whistleblowing?
A whistleblower (also whistle-blower or whistle blower) is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization (or community) that is either private or public. … Two other classifications of whistleblowing are private and public (Wikipedia; italics provided)
Whistleblowers can also be designated by the type of whistleblowing. Federal whistleblowers: These are government employees who reveal misconduct committed by their employers or can also be private-sector employees who inform about the misconduct of their employers that is committed in relation to the federal government.
Benefits of Whistleblowing
For people who work for the federal government, the Whistleblower Protection Act, or WPA, protects disclosures of misconduct. This law protects federal employees who disclose illegal or improper government activities.
Whistleblower protection is therefore essential to encourage the reporting of misconduct, fraud and corruption. Providing effective protection for whistleblowers supports an open culture where people are not only aware of how to report but also have confidence in the reporting procedures. It also helps businesses prevent and detect bribery in commercial transactions. The protection of both public and private sector whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting in good faith suspected acts of corruption and other wrongdoing is therefore integral to efforts to combat corruption, safeguard integrity, enhance accountability, and support a clean business environment.
Is Whistleblowing Peculiar to Nigeria?
About 50 countries have adopted national laws of Whistleblowing in one form or the other to address the issue of corruption. Some include: USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Jamaica, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, New Zealand, South Africa, Ghana, South Korea, and Uganda. Kenya and Rwanda are still considering adopting the law.
Impact of Whistleblowing on corruption
The risk of corruption is significantly heightened in environments where the reporting of wrongdoing is not supported or protected. Where a culture of disclosure is created it will help to reduce corruption as seen in the developed world.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the following legal issues are required for consideration:
Is there comprehensive and clear legislation in place to protect from retaliation, discriminatory or disciplinary action, employees/citizens who disclose in good faith and on reasonable grounds, suspected acts of wrongdoing or corruption to competent authorities?
- Are there effective institutional frameworks and clear procedures and channels in place for facilitating the reporting of wrongdoing and corruption?
- Are protected disclosures and persons afforded protection clearly defined?
- Are retaliatory actions clearly defined and the protection afforded robust and comprehensive?
- Are remedies and sanctions for retaliation clearly outlined?
- Is awareness-raising regularly undertaken to encourage the reporting of wrongdoing and corruption and to disseminate existing information on the protection of whistleblowers?
- Is the effectiveness in practice of the whistleblower protection framework periodically evaluated and reviewed?
Nigeria, is it Achievable?
Is 5% commission enough incentive to be a whistleblower? This million-dollar question is; Is our society and security apparatus ready to protect whistleblowers? How do we mitigate these fears?Will the average Nigerian risk his life for 5%?
Now my two pence: I believe the principles behind whistleblowing are noble and in line with global best practices as seen in over 50 countries, it means we must watch each other’s back. The fight against corruption has been mostly against politicians which is good however, I think whistleblowing should look at other sectors especially the civil service, where corruption is still huge. The challenge I see, is that of abuse; I can call to report my neighbor if I am jealous of his achievements. So, lots of spurious alerts, but there will be successes to. As with other programs in Nigeria, implementation is my fear. Government should not be in a hurry to introduce the law without having structures in place to achieve seamless success.