A lawyer and public analyst with PACAC Segun Adesanya said this on Friday in Abuja during a Radio Town Hall Meeting on Whistle-blower Protection organised by the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) in collaboration with the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG).
“Some of the challenges we have observed since the policy has been in place are cynicism and citizens finding it difficult to trust the government,” said Adesanya.
He noted that some people had also been using whistle-blowing as an opportunity for personal vendetta.
However, Adesanya urged citizens to continue to raise their voices against incidents of corruption in official quarters to save Nigeria from the evils of the vice.
Adesanya called on Nigerians to trust the system, advising whistle-blowers against taking their complaints to multiple anti-graft agencies in order to reduce victimisation.
“Do your best as much as possible to hide your identity. If you do that, then the issue of victimisation would be reduced. Try as much as possible to protect your identity. If you have reported to ICPC and they give you feedback, I think you should take that as the position of the government, rather than duplicating the reportage across all available channels,” he warned.
A Development Programming Strategist and Promoter of Inclusion and Diversity Ene Ede, who was also at the meeting, said cultural, environmental, and religious factors were limiting women from reporting corruption.
According to Ede, “There are a lot of women who would want to blow the whistle but the framework, politicians, religious leaders do not do much to encourage them.
“The laws are not strong enough, not biting enough to deter corruption, women are most affected by corruption, unfortunately.”
A Public Policy Analyst Babatunde Oluajo faulted the Federal Government’s mechanism of protecting whistle-blowers following rising fear of victimisation. He said that the adverse effect of corruption knew no gender, tribe, or religion, hence Nigeria had got to the point where corruption was killing citizens.
“It is individuals who feel the pain that blows the whistle. Whether an individual is exposing a corrupt act due to vendetta or any other reason, the government and relevant agencies must focus on the crime committed and not the sentiment that led to the expose.”
Oluajo said for Nigeria to fully take advantage of whistle-blowing, the country must make the protection of whistle-blowers paramount and ensure the system guaranteed the anonymity of the individuals and deploy information and communications technology in tackling corruption.
Co-founder of Amputee Coalition of Nigeria Florence Marcus said that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) had the capacity of whistle-blowing but were the most marginalised and vulnerable people.
Marcus stressed that PWD’s needed to be assisted to understand the Whistle-blower Policy through technology and accessible information.
“There is need for the brail but there are a lot of technology that they use to read and it will be better if they are put in audio format for the blind; visual or video for the deaf.
“This policy can be in simplified versions, like in pidgin English and in our local languages for them to have access to and through billboards.”
Marcus urged the government to implement anti-corruption laws that would give assurances and protection to whistle-blowers, while ensuring transparency and accountability for the funds recovered from corruption.