Whistle Blowing in Nigeria: A Bicycle Peddling towards Risk Free Disclosures by Adeniyi Bamgboye

whistle-blowerWhistle blowing is an attempt by a member or former member of an organization to disclose wrong doing in or by the organization. It is also involves the calling of public attention to wrong doing, typically in order to avert harm. Whistle blowing could either be internal or personal. Internal whistle blowing is a situation which is triggered by someone within the organization while personal whistle blowing on the other hand is the blowing on the offender , here the offence is not against the organization or system but against one individual. There is also the external and impersonal whistle blowing which is a direct opposite of the internal and personal whistle blowing.

A whistle blower is often times seen as a spoiler or traitor by the working group to which he or she belongs. He also acts as an informant who exposes wrongdoing within an organization in the hope of stopping it.

According to Richard T De George, there are five conditions that must hold for whistle blowing to be morally permissible and obligatory. First, the firm through its product or policy will do serious and considerable harm to the public, whether in the person of the user of its product, an innocent bystander, or the general public.

Secondly, once an employee identifies a serious threat to the user of product or to the general public, he or she should report it to his or her immediate superior and make his or her moral concern known. Unless he or she does so, the act of whistle blowing is not justifiable. Thirdly, if one’s immediate superior does nothing consequential about the complaint, the employee should exhaust the internal producers and possibilities within the firm. This usually will involve taking the matter up the managerial ladder, maybe to the board of directors. For the whistle blowing process to be morally obligatory, the whistleblower must have accessible documented evidence that would convince a reasonable, impartial observer that one’s view of the situation is correct, and that the company’s product or practice constitutes a serious and likely danger to the public or to the user of the product. The employee must have good reason to believe that by going public the necessary changes will brought about. The chance of being successful must be worth the risk one takes and danger to which one is exposed. That to me, requires the application of common sense.

Nigeria in recent times has had its own fair share of popular whistle blowing situations. During the President Goodluck Jonathan Administration, the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Lamido Sanusi Lamido made it known to the public that there was some non-remittance of funds to the tune of $20 billion to the federation account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). We all knew he was later suspended all because he blew the whistle.

It was also known that foods meant for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) were reportedly diverted by camp officials for their personal use. This was brought to public attention by an IDP resident in the camp these heinous activities were being perpetrated.

The one still fresh in our minds is the whistle  blowing saga  currently rocking the House of Representative involving the former Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Hon. Adbulmumin Jibrin who alleged that Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and three others padded the 2016 budget to the tune of N40 billion.  Some analysts are of the opinion that it would be inappropriate to ascribe the whistle blower title to Hon. Jibrin because they think he became aggrieved immediately he fell out of favour in the house. Well, that a story for another day. I personally think his role in this matter should be encouraged and applauded. At least, it has afforded me as a citizen of this country to know the humongous amount our House of Reps member collects as running costs for instance. We are waiting patiently for the aftermath of his suspension.
In Nigeria, the law gives little protection to whistleblowers who feel the public has right to know what is going on. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is inadequate in properly shielding the whistleblower against castigation.

The government can’t afford to treat whistle blowing cases with kid gloves if it wants to be ahead and apprehend corrupt persons who are constantly researching on how to get their activities unnoticed, uncovered and earthed for life. Failure to this would also undermine the fight against corruption.

The whistleblower should be adequately protected from persecution while a corrupt person should be prosecuted accordingly.

Adeniyi Bamgboye is a consultant with a focus on accounting, audit, tax and business advisory. He holds an MBA in financial management. A member of Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA-UK), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN).

God bless Nigeria.

Adeniyi  Bamgboye
08060603156 (Text only)

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