Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor YemiOsinbajo(SAN), has called for the expansion of the scope of the current framework of whistle blowing to include issues of public safety, security, gross mismanagement of the rights of people, and waste of resources.
“It is clear that under the current whistleblowing policy, it is only with respect to acts of corruption that whistleblowing is considered lawful. However, there is a whole range of issues that may not endanger public finance directly but may constitute public safety or security risks. Reporting such may save lives and or property, “ he noted.
The Vice President who made the call in a keynote address delivered virtually at the National Conference on Whistle-blower Policy said the move will broaden and enhance the efficacy of the whistle-blower policy.
“The scope may then cover such matters as a violation of the law, gross mismanagement of the rights of people and waste of public resources, or acts inimical to public health or safety,” Vice President Osinbajo added.
The Federal Government Whistle-blower Policy was developed as a tool for the exposure of corruption and corrupt actors in Government and to validate controls and ensuring compliance with public finance management principles.
Speaking on the need to enhance the whistleblower policy, the Vice President said: “although, some progress has been achieved through this policy, especially at the Federal Level – with recoveries, prosecutions, and convictions; it is essential that the policy operates widely in States and Local Governments as the tiers closest to the people and overseers of about half of the nation’s revenues.”
“Exposing corruption is for the good of our nation. Our goal in this regard is to harness the huge potential of the people to deliver on their moral obligation to report cases of corruption within their immediate environments. As we deliberate on the finer details of the implementation of this policy, we must consistently remind ourselves of the importance of the task at hand notwithstanding the difficulties,” Professor Osinbajo explained further.
Vice President Osinbajo called for a legislative backing for the policy, stressing that “such a law should also provide for comprehensive protection of whistle-blowers, including against reprisals from their employers and those whose activities they expose. These may include witness protection type provisions and this will give the whistle-blower some protection where they may have to appear in court.”
Underscoring the importance of his proposal for adjustments in the policy, the Vice President said ‘‘certainty and clarity of the reporting processes and adequate protection of the whistle-blowers would improve confidence in the initiative.
“Similarly, enhanced transparency and accountability in the implementation of the policy will result in more discoveries and recoveries,” Prof.Osinbajo added.
The conference was organized by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning in collaboration with agencies and departments involved in the anti-corruption battle.