At Independence, Nigeria was projected as the nation to lead Africa out of its third world status, into a continent of pride, worthy of competing with the developed world on every aspect of human development index.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, promised the rest of the continent and the world, that Nigeria “shall not fail for want of determination”.
56 years down the line, Nigeria has recorded tremendous progress, and equally tremendous failure. Corruption has been seen as the bane of our democracy and development as a nation.
For many years, financial corruption has held the nation from attaining the realities of its potential. According to Waziri Adio, the executive secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Nigeria made N70 trillion from oil alone in 15 years (1999-2014).
He goes on to question the way such monies were spent and the mis-management that trailed the country’s administrations through those years.
“I think if previous administrations had developed a culture for prudent management of resources, Nigeria ought to have over $100 billion saved in the excess crude account,” he said.
How such monies were spent no longer remain a mystery as President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war has revealed how government officials and their cronies channelled state funds into personal pockets.
Ben Akabueze, director-general of the office, said that the federal government is projecting an infusion of N258.6 billion from recovered loot into the 2017 budget, showing a fraction how much loot recovery, the government did in 2016.
On Wednesday, Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, announced the federal government’s whistleblowing policy for loot recovery.
“You can submit documentary evidence on the portal. You can also provide specific and fact-based information such as what occurred, amount involved, who was involved and dates of the occurrence on the portal,” she had said.
“Confidentiality will be maintained to the fullest extent within the limitations of the law. If you choose not to disclose your identity, there will be no record of who you are. If you choose to disclose your identity, it will be fully protected.
”If you whistleblow in public-spirit and in good faith, you will be protected. If you feel that you have been treated badly because of your report, you can file a formal complaint. If you have suffered harassment, intimidation or victimisation for sharing your concerns, restitution will be made for any loss suffered.”
To cap it all Adeosun said the programme comes with an incentive and protection for whistle blowers. It ensures that whistle blowers can get as much five percent of loot, in case of losses recorded in the process.
“Whistle blowers will be protected against sanctions, and in the event that somebody who is a whistle blower loses their job or is financially disadvantaged as a result of the information they have provided, we have a reward scheme, which would pay not more than five percent,” she adds.
This goes on to show that the government is committed to catering for whistle blowers.
What this policy would do much more than recovering loot, is to prevent looting. With everyone free to blow a whistle on financial mismanagement, every public official planning one form or looting or the other will be deterred from doing so, because anyone who knows about it can blow a whistle and get the official in the government’s net.
Hence, much more than the recovery of loot, federal government’s whistleblowing programme may mean the death of financial theft in Nigeria.
Ncheta writes from Lagos, and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org