News Agency of Nigeria to assist AFRICMIL in promoting whistleblowing

The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has called for stronger ties between civil society organizations and the media in the fight against endemic corruption in Nigeria.

The Coordinator of the Centre, Chido Onumah, made the call when he led a delegation from AFRICMIL on a courtesy visit to the management of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. Reiterating the unrelenting negative impact of corruption on the society, he stated, “It is important that the civil society and the media stand together to strengthen the anti-corruption campaign in our country.”

According to him, the purpose of the visit was to promote Corruption Anonymous, a project designed to build public support for the whistleblower policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The project, which is being implemented with the support of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, has a three-pronged strategy of ensuring the sustainability of whistleblowing as a popular culture in the war against corruption.

This includes creating awareness and encouraging active citizens’ involvement in whistleblowing, ensuring the process is justly administered and delivers the intended results, as well as guaranteeing the safety and protection of those who dare to blow the whistle.

Onumah lamented the recurring victimization of whistleblowers in government offices, describing it as a “worrisome development” the media should consistently report.

He recalled the role played by AFRICMIL and other groups, including the media, in the reinstatement of Mr. Ntia Thompson, a staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was wrongfully retired for reporting fraud in his office.

AFRICMIL, he said, is currently engaging the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to secure similar restitution for Murtala Ibrahim, a staff of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) who was dismissed May 8 this year, also for refusing to help cover fraud in the bank.

In his response, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the Managing Director of NAN, said corruption was still a major problem in the country that should be of great concern to all Nigerians. He described the whistleblower policy as “a good one” but noted that “despite all our efforts, it still seems like we are scratching the surface.”

The NAN boss said people must be encouraged to squeal if the country was bent on reducing corruption to its barest minimum. He commended AFRICMIL for its project in the anti-graft campaign and stated that NAN was best positioned to offer assistance to the organization in its activities.