The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has been acknowledged as a central agency in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
According to Chido Onumah, Coordinator of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), who led a delegation of the non-profit organization on a courtesy visit to PACAC, “much of the success recorded so far in the anti-corruption war has been due largely to the contributions of the anti-corruption think-tank.”
The visit was a continuation of engagements with critical stakeholders aimed at raising awareness and seeking partnership for Corruption Anonymous, a good governance initiative of AFRICMIL dedicated to building public support and encouraging active citizens’ involvement in whistleblowing. The project is being implemented with the support of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Apart from creating awareness and getting Nigerians to buy into whistleblowing as an effective mechanism for curbing corruption, Onumah said Corruption Anonymous is also committed to ensuring the integrity of the whistleblower policy and guaranteeing the protection and safety of whistleblowers which he said are routinely been persecuted by their employers.
He recalled the role AFRICMIL played in the reinstatement of Ntia Thompson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who was wrongfully retired for reporting financial fraud, as well as its ongoing efforts to secure the same restitution for Murtala Ibrahim of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria who was dismissed outright for exposing contract scams and a doctored 2016 Half-Year Income Validation Report of the bank.
Underscoring the importance of the advocacy on whistleblowing, Onumah said, ‘It is one thing for government to have this policy, if people are not aware or they are in the dark as to how the policy works, and those who show enough courage to embrace it are not safe, then the policy would be as good as dead on arrival.”
He urged collaboration between AFRICMIL and PACAC as a way of popularizing whistleblowing and checking endemic corruption in the society.
Responding, the Executive Secretary of PACAC, Bolaji Owasanoye, a professor of law, affirmed that whistleblowing in Nigeria was not new but many people were not aware. He said so far, the whistleblower policy under the administration was working.
Owasanoye, who has just been appointed Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), said the policy was achieving its purpose but also full of challenges. According to him, “In a society where corruption is endemic, quick convictions cannot be secured unless there is a revolution. Although admitting that people would normally be scared of reprisals, he urged Nigerians to show some willingness to report because, as he put it, “nobody can save you unless you give information.”
Owasanoye commended AFRICMIL for the initiative, urging it not to be deterred by occasional setbacks. “Check out for credibility and value, and follow every lead,” he counseled, while stressing PACAC’ readiness to support whenever called upon.
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