The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has described the whistleblowing policy as a welcome addition to the efforts to curb corruption in Nigeria.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by a delegation of AFRICMIL to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Coordinator of the Centre, Chido Onumah, said, “We stand to gain a lot from whistleblowing. Together with the Freedom of Information law, we have a powerful cocktail in our desire to ensure transparency and accountability in our country.”
The visit was a continuation of engagements with critical stakeholders in raising awareness and seeking partnership for Corruption Anonymous, a good governance project of AFRICMIL aimed at building public support and encouraging active citizens’ involvement in whistleblowing. The project is being implemented with the support of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Beyond the objective of creating awareness and getting Nigerians to embrace whistleblowing as a viable anti-corruption tool, Onumah said Corruption Anonymous also focused on maintaining the integrity of the whistleblowing process as well as, most importantly, ensuring the protection and safety of whistleblowers. On the issue of protection, he recalled the cases of Ntia Thompson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Murtala Ibrahim of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria.
Both suffered unjustifiable reprisals for making reports and refusing to cover up fraud. Thompson was dismissed from service at the beginning of this year and has only recently been reinstated through the efforts of AFRICMIL and others while, according to Onumah, “we are still currently engaging the authorities concerned on the case of Ibrahim whose appointment was terminated by the bank’s management in May.”
In his response, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio, welcomed AFRICMIL and described it as a natural ally in prudent management, transparency, accountability and shared prosperity which NEITI stood for. He said whistle blowing was “a fantastic initiative” especially in a sector as strategic as the extractive industries, but noted that it was full of risks for which the protection of whistleblowers was very important.
Drawing attention to the plight of people accused of making false reports, Adio said, “There is need to ensure that people who made wrong claims are not pronounced guilty and punished as this would defeat the whole essence of whistleblowing.”
The NEITI boss noted the importance of both organizations working together to encourage whistleblowing in the extractive industries in a way government would achieve maximum benefits. Apart from joint interventions on whistleblowing, he also called for partnership with AFRICMIL to get different stakeholders play their role in reversing what he described as the resource curse.
Corroborating Adio, NEITI’s Director of Communications, Dr. Orji O. Orji, commended AFRICMIL for the initiative, pointing out that the Centre was well-positioned to fill a huge gap in NEITI’s activities including revenue generation and management in oil, gas and solid minerals. He urged proper management of whistleblowing in order to avoid a situation where the “hunter becomes the hunted.”