Osinbajo seeks expansion of whistle-blower policy

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says there is need for an expansion of the scope of the whistle-blower policy to include issues of public safety, security, gross mismanagement of the rights of people, and waste of resources, among others.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement in Abuja, said that the Vice President delivered a virtual keynote address at the National Conference on Whistle-blower Policy on Tuesday.

He said that such expansion would broaden and enhance the efficacy of the Federal Government’s whistle-blower policy.

Osinbajo said that the Federal Government’s whistle-blower policy was developed as a tool for the exposure of corruption and corrupt actors in Government and to validate controls and ensuring compliance with public finance management principles.

“It is clear that under the current whistle-blower policy, it is only with respect to acts of corruption that whistle-blowing is considered lawful.

“However, there are a whole range of issues that may not endanger public finance directly but may constitute public safety or security risks. Reporting such may save lives and or property.

“The scope may then cover such matters as a violation of law, gross mismanagement of the rights of people and waste of public resources, or acts inimical to public health or safety.”

He said that some progress had been achieved through the policy, especially at the Federal Level – with recoveries, prosecutions, and convictions.

According to him, it is essential that the policy operates widely in states and local governments as the tiers closest to the people and overseers of about half of the nation’s revenues.

“Exposing corruption is for the good of our nation; our goal in this regard is to harness the huge potential of the people to deliver on their moral obligation to report cases of corruption within their immediate environments.

“As we deliberate on the finer details of implementation of this policy, we must consistently remind ourselves of the importance of the task at hand notwithstanding the difficulties.”

The vice president said that an Act of the National Assembly to back the policy was a necessity.

He said that such a law should also provide for comprehensive protection of whistle-blowers, including against reprisals from their employers and those whose activities they exposed.

“These may include witness protection type provisions and this will give the whistle-blower some protection where they may have to appear in court. “Certainty and clarity of the reporting processes and adequate protection of the whistle-blowers would improve confidence in the initiative.

“Similarly, enhanced transparency and accountability in the implementation of the policy will result in more discoveries and recoveries,” he said.

The conference was organised by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning in collaboration with agencies and departments involved in the anti-corruption battle.