A few weeks ago, the Nigerian news media world was engulfed in shocking revelations after the discoveries by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting his nest on high to escape the clutches of ruin!” Habakkuk 2:9
The most mind-blowing of these discoveries was the news that the amount of $9.8 million US dollars and another 75,000 British pounds which were connected to the former group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC) Mr Andrew Yakubu was recovered after a raid was carried out at one of his houses in Kaduna State. The money was hidden in such a way that it could not be discovered by someone who did not have prior knowledge. The perpetrators had gone to the extent of even providing fireproof protection for the safe.
A few days later, the EFCC again, recorded another ground-breaking discovery, when they found a house on banana island Lagos, which is worth a whopping $37.5 million US dollars. For the Nigerian mind to fully grasp what that means in Nigeria currency, a $37.5 Million US dollar house will equal, $11.75 billion Naira.
This is at a time when Nigerians are gnashing their teeth in the pain of poverty, skyrocketing prices, inflation, unemployment, etc. As a matter of fact, more than half the population of Nigerians are said to be living on less than $2 US dollars a day. Meanwhile, one former government official owns a house that costs billions of Naira. The irony is that nobody lives in this house. It is just a way of stashing away money in real estate. This property was acquired by the former minister of petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke. Last year another building was ceased by this same former minister costing $18 million US dollars in the Asokoro area of Abuja. “Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain.” Ezekiel 22:27
Why am I going into all these stories and histories of recoveries? This is all because I wish to point the attention of Nigerians to what they have missed in the barrage of news that daily hits the Nigerian airwaves.
COULD THIS BE A COINCIDENCE?
You will agree with me dear readers that these kinds of recoveries especially in such a short period of time could not probably be by accident. Yes, it was not an accident. This level of progress that is now being recorded by the EFCC is sure because of some right steps that were taken by the Nigerian government. “There is no compromise when it comes to corruption. You must fight it.” A. K. Anthony.
A few months ago, the federal government of Nigeria, successfully enacted a whistle-blowing policy, which to me is the most ground-breaking decision of the Buhari administration so far. This singular decision by the government should prove to all well-meaning Nigerians that the Buhari administration really means business.
One of the platforms on which the APC party and Buhari campaigned to win the general presidential election from the Goodluck Jonathan administration, was to fight corruption to a standstill. Even though there have been trickles of successes recorded here and there in the fight against corruption, these latest results are some of the most important victories ever recorded.
“They have sunk deep into corruption, as in the days of Gibeah. God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” Hosea 9:9
The whistle-blowing policy is much more important to every Nigerian than it initially appears. As a matter of fact, every Nigerian need to know about this policy. If we really want to combat and win the fight over corruption, we need to have government agencies and nongovernmental groups popularizing this policy. It is the most ground-breaking government decision by the Buhari administration so far.
5 PERCENT REWARD
This policy is well understood by Nigerians would make Nigerians become participants in the fight against corruption. As the case is right now, I am not sure that most Nigerians know the whistle-blowing policy includes up to a 5 PERCENT REWARD OF THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF LOOTS RECOVERED.
There is no way somebody will steal government money of this magnitude without someone else being aware. It is also true that most people who steal are driven by greed and the same with accomplices. In most cases, the accomplices are never paid the promised amount, while in other cases they wish to get more than they were promised. It is this despicable human nature that the government and NGOs that are interested in fighting corruption must leverage, to spread the word, so that each person that is aware of such evils would be able to speak up.
“Where do the evils like corruption arise from? It comes from never-ending greed. The fight for a corruption-free ethical society will have to be fought against this greed and replace it with ‘what can I give’ spirit.” A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
People must be told that they could become anti-graft agents as citizens. More so, information that could be reported is not limited to stolen funds alone.
“In you are people who accept bribes to shed blood; you take interest and make a profit from the poor. You extort unjust gain from your neighbours. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Ezekiel 22:12
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO REPORT
Citizens are encouraged to report:
1. All forms of mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds and assets
2. Misuse of government properties and vehicles, etc.
3. Financial malpractices of any kind.
4. Any form of fraud especially connected to the commonwealth of the nation.
5. Collection or solicitation of bribes.
6. Diversion of payment and revenues.
7. Fraudulent and unapproved payments.
8. Misappropriation of contracts.
9. Kickbacks and over-invoicing.
10. Any form of corruption in government or private sectors.
As earlier said, both government and civil societies will have to step up their campaign efforts to inform all Nigerians of their role in fighting corruption. Nigerians must know that building a corruption-free society is a collective effort, not just a government responsibility.
We must inform the public about the definition and the functions of a whistle-blower. We must also let the people know that included in this policy is a protection clause. Meaning that the federal government guarantees and provides security and protection for anybody providing such information. More so the information could be provided incognito, that is the person’s identity will not be revealed publicly. This tells us that the government has done a lot on their part to carry Nigerians along and involve ordinary Nigerians in building a more chaste society.
“Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end, they will prove to be fools.” Jeremiah 17:11
SO, WHO IS A WHISTLE-BLOWER?
Unfortunately, because of our cultural mindset, most of our people will think it evil or negative to be called a whistleblower. This is because society despises the so-called snitch, rat, and tattletale, while in Nigeria they are called names like amebo, odale, etc. In a culture where this is widespread, most people will be reluctant to participate in this government effort.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20
However, if we are to build a better future, for our children and posterity, we must stop thinking of the consequences of doing the right thing for ourselves. It is time for us to start to think about the general good and the future of our beloved nation. The most important thing for the whistle-blower is to be aware that the information he is providing can be substantiated, that is they are not based on libels, lies and slander.
A whistle-blower could be defined as someone who is driven by the greater good of the country and hence voluntarily discloses information at his disposal in good faith and discretion. A whistle-blower informs the authorities about possible misconduct or violation of the law that has occurred, is ongoing or about to take place.
“The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means.” Georges Bernanos
Even though the government has done a good job by passing this policy into law, I, however, think they are underestimating how much marketing and promotional work needs to be done for this policy to take root in our nation. This is especially obvious in light of the recent return of former governor James Ibori to Nigeria. The celebration and the atmosphere of merry instead of solemnness that surrounded his return to Nigeria suggest that our people need to be better informed.
“I will surely strike my hands together at the unjust gain you have made and at the blood, you have shed in your midst.” Ezekiel 22:13
THE NEED FOR MASS PROMOTION
A country where people are rejoicing that a convicted government official has given them a little bit of the goodies he stole instead of reporting to the appropriate government agencies, shows that something must be done to correct the people’s value system. It is obvious that the people are not aware that the goodies and spoils that are being distributed to them by these corrupt individuals is part of the money that is meant for them, the masses. In a situation where a corrupt politician dolls out a million US dollars, be sure that he has stolen about a billion US dollars from the people. He has only given them one percent of what is meant for them. Yet, my people gullibly rejoice and go as far as fighting to protect these corrupt officials.
“A just king gives stability to his nation, but one who demands bribes destroys it.” Proverbs 29:4
Another fact that confirms the need for more propagation of anti-graft policies in the country was recorded a few years back when another governor was arrested overseas yet managed to escape and run back to the country by disguising as a woman. On his arrival, his people were celebrating him while attacking the government. Blaming the government for his so-called plight while totally ignoring the abuse of office and the corruption charges he faced. To his people, he is seen as a hero because they had managed to receive some crumbs from his enormous spoils. Unfortunately, these people are celebrating and fighting for the rights of the official who has led them to the abyssal state they are in right now.
It is like a man who stole all your belongings that are worth a million US dollars and then comes back to you to act as a philanthropist while giving you back $10 US dollars. Using $10 US dollars of your one million dollars to give you a feast. The uninformed populace meanwhile rejoices and celebrates because they had a feast. Some of them even go to the extent of risking their lives to protect corrupt officials. This is the picture of what is happening in Nigeria right now. This is the more reason why NGOs and civil societies should take over this campaign to sanitize and get our people better informed.
As I write right now, there is an ongoing drama where a federal senator is being charged and looked for in America as a criminal, meanwhile he is a senator here at home in Nigeria. The reason why he was elected as a senator is that he has been splashing some of his money on the electorate and the people keep on supporting him.
I am aware that there is an online portal and telephone number that could be used by these whistle-blowers to submit their information through email or by telephone, yet not too many people know this information. I too as the writer of this article can’t seem to find this information. That is why I believe that such information must be propagated and made readily available to all Nigerians wherever they are.
It is my belief that if this policy of whistle-blowing is well propagated and promoted to the general public, every Nigerian will stand to gain, and our country will be the better for it.
ADVANTAGES OF WHISTLEBLOWING
“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” Ephesians 4:28
What are some of the advantages these policies could bring to the country?
1. It would help bring in some much-needed cash that could be used to solve some of the myriad list of problems.
2. The recovery of stolen cash will help improve our inflation rate.
3. Since a lot of this money are in foreign currencies, this could help the exchange rate of the naira.
4. Some of the money could be used to build some infrastructure and amenities needed for economic recovery.
5. Pensions could be paid to senior citizens and pensioners who have been wallowing in poverty and lack.
6. More schools and universities could be built.
7. We could limit the number of strikes by civil servants, teachers, petroleum workers, etc by paying their salaries.
8. More world-class hospitals, roads, etc, could be built.
9. The supply and provision of electricity and water could be improved.
10. The level of crime and corruption in the country generally will decrease.
11. This fight against corruption would also help improve the level of public confidence in government and in the country in general, thereby leading to a greater inflow of investment into the country.
12. It would encourage transparency and accountability by public officials.
DO YOU KNOW DR. GEORGE UBOH?
Not too many people are aware of who Doctor George Uboh is, but the fact is that we need thousands more of Dr Uboh in Nigeria. Dr Uboh is the foremost whistle-blower in Nigeria. He has faced victimization, illegal detentions, and physical, cyber and spiritual threats, just for the blowing whistle on some of the Nigerian corrupt officials.
Dr Uboh has vowed to lay down his life, if necessary, in his effort to expose corrupt practices in our country. Many Nigerians should know that there are people like Dr Uboh already doing the job. They should also know that no amount of black magic or spiritual attacks has been able to stop him because nothing defeats the truth. If you are sure that your conviction is based on the truth, the truth will always fight for you.
One of the most important aspects of this policy as I have mentioned earlier is that it protects the whistle-blowers. The government at its own cost have taken it upon itself to provide security and protection to anybody that will submit relevant information against grafts and corruption in our country.
It should also be noted that those who give an evil and mischievous information about innocent people will be reprimanded. This is important so that individuals will not turn this policy into a weapon of personal and political vendetta.
The Lord Almighty declares, “I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of anyone who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in that house and destroy it completely, both its timbers and its stones.” Zechariah 5:4
People like Dr Uboh are convinced that Nigeria could reduce corruption by 90%, but that is only dependent on how widespread this campaign goes to the grassroots. I, therefore, want to use this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians all and sundry, to join his campaign. This is not about a political party; this is one of the most important government policies in our country today. We should all join it to make Nigeria better.
It is only thanks to this policy that Andrew Yakubu’s largesse was discovered despite all the protection that was put in place. Somebody who knew about it blew the whistle. The same applied to the discovery of the 11 billion Naira house belonging to former petroleum Minister Diezani Madueke.
As you all could see, the latest successes of our anti-graft agency (EFCC) are mainly thanks to the efforts of ordinary citizens in submitting relevant information to the right agencies.
“Therefore, until the day I die, I am going to do what I can, regardless of the cost to me, to try to stop this awful corruption that is destroying our beloved democracy.” John Jay Hooker
I, therefore, want to use this avenue to thank the people in the Buhari administration who came up with this policy. It is now the turn of every Nigerian to ask what he/she could do to make this campaign a success. If we do, Nigeria will become a better place. A country from where her citizens will not be running anymore, it will be a desirable place for people in the diaspora to come to. Let us all make Nigeria a better place for all.
By Dr Sunday Adelaja
The opinions and views expressed in this write-up are entirely that of the Writer(s). They do not reflect the opinions and views of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or any of its employees. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of materials herein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or its employees concerning the legal status of any country, its authority, area or territory or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers. Equally, the sketches, images, pictures and videos are gotten from the public domain.