The federal government on Tuesday announced that it has established the Whistleblower Unit to coordinate and ensure the success of the policy by “doing the right thing.”
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this on Tuesday at the opening of a seminar organized by the Bureau for Public Service Reforms (BPSR) in Abuja.
Adeosun said that Nigerians should not see the Whistleblowing policy as an act of treachery, but a patriotic act aimed at contributing to the building of a better nation for future Nigerians.
She disclosed that the total communication received through the various reporting channels since the inception of the policy has reached more than 5, 000 by July 2017.
The minister noted that most information providers under the whistleblower policy were not motivated by financial gain, but by patriotic convictions.
According to Adeosun, “out of the 365 actionable tips we have received, over half of them have come from public servants touching on issues such as contract inflation, ghost workers, illegal recruitment, misappropriation of funds, illegal sale of Government assets, diversion of revenues, and violation of TSA regulations, amongst others.
Adeosun said: “In reviewing the information we receive, we have noticed that certain type of tips are recurring, for example; 39% (144) of the actionable tips relate to misappropriation and diversion of funds/revenue, 16% (60) relate to ghost workers, illegal recruitments and embezzlement of funds meant for personnel emolument, 15% (56) relate to violation of TSA regulation, 13% (49) relate to contract inflation/violation of the procurement act and failure to carry out projects for which funds have been released and 9% (34) relate to non-remittance of pension & NHIS deductions. Others include concealed bail-out funds and embezzlement of funds from donor agencies.
The minister assured that since the inception of the policy in December 2016, the Federal Government has “worked hard in ensuring that we have the right systems, processes and protection in place for public servants to raise their concerns about possible violations or misconduct. This is something we are keen on achieving.”
“If as a civil servant, you have information about a possible misconduct or violation that has occurred, is on-going, or is about to occur, we implore you to come forward and report it. You can submit your information anonymously and confidentially through the online portal, by email or by phone and if you disclose your identity, it will be fully protected,” the Minister emphasised.
She stated further: “The protection of public sector whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting in good faith is therefore, integral to our effort to combat corruption, safeguard integrity, and enhance accountability. These are not just words, as you must have heard, the Senate recently passed the Whistleblower Protection Bill which gives a whistleblower, protection under the laws of Nigeria. This is a great step in the right direction in our fight against corruption and I must thank the legislature for supporting the executive.”
Mrs. Adeosun disclosed that where whistleblowers suffered harassment, intimidation or victimization for sharing their concerns, the policy has made provisions for restitution of any loss suffered.
Earlier in his remarks, the Director-General of the Bureau, Dr. Joe Abah, said that the agency organized the seminar to provide the needed platform to educate public servants on what the policy is about, and the roles public servants were expected to play to ensure its successful implementation.
He noted the Whistleblower policy was in accord with the tenets of reforming the public service and urged public servants to expose corruption where it exists.
Mathew Dadiya, Abuja