A one-day stepdown training to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders on the Whistle-blowing policy on Monday happened in Awka, Anambra State Capital, with the need stressed for citizens to see the fight against corruption as their civic responsibility.
The training which has as its theme, “Community-Based Organisations as change agents in promoting whistleblowing,” had as its participants, members of CBOs, the media and community leaders.
The stepdown training/ meeting was put together by AFRICMIL’s Corruption Anonymous (The whistleblowing platform) in collaboration with International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre, IPCRC.
In an address, Mr Chido Onuma, the Coordinator, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, one of the organisers, said the initiative was a conscious effort at inviting the CBOs as partners in their campaign to ensure a drastic reduction in corruption and wrongdoing through whistleblowing.
He said combating corruption through early detection and exposure of mismanagement, bribery, fraud, theft of public funds and other illicit acts, is an effective strategy in the fight against corruption.
Onuma pointed out that corruption has proven to be the most direct method of exposing corrupt acts.
“We are morally and legally bound as citizens not to keep silent or acquiesce to any act of corruption or wrongdoing whenever we see one.
“It is common knowledge that the rural dwellers feel both the pains and gains of poor or good governance than others, hence the need to bring this training to the rural communities where constituency projects and their impacts can be felt more.
“It is on this note that the AFRICMIL has put these trainings together for CBOs in Anambra South, Central and North Senatorial zones, targeting the CBOs, who have an enduring presence in the communities, a formidable collaborator in disavowing the negative culture of silence and embracing the more rewarding attitude of speaking out in the face of anything that can harm or endanger their environments,” he said.
The Coordinator of Civil Society Organisations in Anambra State, Prince Chris Azor explained that the decision to step down the training was to ensure that the community people are well-equipped to report corruption and other negative practices.
He said it is a constitutional mandate for the people take active part in their governance and citizens must embrace this charge wholesomely.
According to him, the deadly culture of silence among the people drives the sustained perpetration of corruption.
“It should suffice to say that although there is now a reward attached to whistleblowing, people must be more concerned about saving the society first and not the monetary gain they get after blowing the whistle.
“If we really want to fight corruption, it must be with a bottom to top approach.
“Corruption finds expression in the death of that pregnant woman, in the death of that accident victim, in the non-provision of basic facilities and so on.
“Today, the average Nigerian is a government of his own, providing for virtually everything for himself from water, electricity, health to road infrastructure.
“And this is simply because people we put there to represent us at various levels are carting away our commonwealth, which would have been used to provide these amenities.
“That is why it has become imperative that citizens especially at the grassroots, are empowered to do the right thing in stopping such rape on our society,” Azor.
The Special Assistant to the Anambra Governor on Environment, Mr Nchedo Ezenwegbu observed that a major inhibiting factor to effective whistleblowing is the lack of security for whistle-blowers.
He suggested that government reviews the protection systems for the whistle-blower even to the point of reward, to encourage people to blow the whistle on wrongdoings observed in their climes.
In a presentation, the Chair, Nigerian National Peace Building and Conflict Prevention Committee for Rotary International, District 9142, Nigeria, Dennis Ekemezie harped on the need for whistle-blowers to be strategic and cautious in reporting corruption and wrongdoing.
He emphasized that while it is important that people blow the whistle on wrongdoings, it is more important for whistle-blowers to stay alive after the reporting.
“Whistle blowing is all about public interest and not to be used for personal gains.
“There is need for whistle-blowers to investigate cases to report appropriately.
“Reporters must be knowledgeable in what they want to investigate and also be strategic.
“They should also learn to keep their actions secret and resist the temptation of boasting about what they have done because they can be putting themselves in trouble.
“This is because sometimes, the beneficiaries of these corrupt practices are highly connected and very dangerous and may go to any length to sustain their negative venture.
“So, the whistle-blower must be smart in what he or she is doing,” he said.