African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, with support from other partners Thursday in Abuja, unveiled a whistleblowing platform to increase citizens’ participation in the anti-corruption fight.
Dr Chido Onumah, the Coordinator of the centre said the platform, named Corruption Anonymous, CORA, would help to deepen accountability in governance.
He said that the introduction of the whistle-blowing policy on Dec. 22, 2016, was to involve citizens in the fight against corruption.
Mr Onumah said CORA was unveiled to support government and ensure that the fight against corruption made the desired impact.
The coordinator observed that the whistleblowing policy, initially hailed as one of the most effective of all the anti-corruption strategies by the government, was virtually fizzling out.
“The reason for the lack of interest in whistleblowing has been well highlighted in the report of the survey on five years of whistleblowing which AFRICMIL published in December 2021.
“Key findings, among others, are that an overwhelming 98 per cent of the people surveyed believed that corruption is the country’s major problem, but that they lack knowledge of what to report and channel of reporting.
“It is against this backdrop that the CORA whistleblowing platform, the civil-society-driven public reporting option that we are launching today, serves as an invaluable tool.
“It will fill the gap in the disclosure channels which have made fighting corruption through whistleblowing a challenging exercise for citizens,‘’ he said.
Mr Onumah said that the CORA platform would complement government’s whistleblowing platform managed by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, PICA.
“Our goal for this project is to have a citizenry that is sensitive to its role in fighting corruption.
“As Nigerians, we must be aware that the fight against corruption is not one to be left for the government alone.
“Legally and morally, we all have roles to play, and this is what the whistleblowing policy seeks to ensure,’’ he said.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was represented by Abiodun Aikomo, the Special Assistant to the President on Financial Crimes, who commended AFRICMIL for the initiative at the event.
Mr Malami said that robust legislation for the protection of whistle-blowers was ongoing, adding that the government was not relenting in the fight against corruption.
“The truth of the matter is, corruption is a problem that we are dealing with as a people.
“It is not a government affair, it is we, all of us Nigerians affair. So, we need the cooperation, collaboration, support and buy-in of everybody.
“Government cannot do it alone. So, we need everybody, I want you to know that the government is committed to bringing everybody on board.
“So, people are welcome to blow the whistle, to make sure that we destroy and tackle corruption,’’ said the minister.
Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, represented by Anne Odey, a member of the ICPC board, welcomed the initiative.
Mr Owasanoye, who said it would greatly help in the fight against corruption, advised that the platform be made easily accessible, as well create secured and confidential hotlines for informants and the information received.
This, he said, was necessary to strengthen an ethical environment devoid of victimisation and reprisals.
He also called for continuous public enlightenment to ensure sustainability and avoid false and mischievous complaints and reports.
Dr Garba Abari, Director-General, National Orientation Agency, NOA, represented by the Director of Press, Paul Odenyi, called on AFRICMIL and Yar’Adua Foundation to extend the whistleblowing platform to election matters.
“This is an opportunity for us to raise the issue of transactional politics that is denting our elections, people are buying and selling votes as if it is a marketplace.
“So if the platform can be used to blow the whistle on those who try to corrupt our electoral system as we witnessed during the party primaries and in elections, it will help,’’ Mr Abari said.