By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja
ABUJA (Sundiata Post)The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) have launched a project report titled ‘Corruption Anonymous,’ (CORA) about the Federal Government Whistle Blower Policy which they have engaged in the last one year with a view to popularising the policy and supporting its implementation.
The Project which is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation was launched on Thursday at the Shehu Yaradua Centre, Abuja.
The project has been ongoing since October 12, 2017 when it was unveiled in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Chido Onumah said that since the announcement of the whistle blower policy, the centre whose vision is to promote media and information literacy as a key component in the enhancement of democracy and good governance and the promotion of accountability and orderly society, has, through its corruption anonymous (CORA) project, been engaging the new policy from the civil society perspective.
The focus of this engagement he said is threefold – to create awareness about the policy; to ensure the integrity of the process and to campaign for the protection of whistleblowers.
He said, ‘’In the past year since the commencement of the project, AFRICMIL has conducted a number of activities aimed at creating awareness about the new policy and strengthening institutional capacity for the whistle blower initiative. Thus far, the organisation has conducted town hall meetings in three cities (Kano, Owerri and Lagos), in addition to a national summit, a media dialogue, training for lawyers as well as a technical workshop for anti-corruption and revenue generating agencies.
‘’The report is a window into what different publics think about the policy and how they have been engaging it. The aim is to deepen the conversation around the issue of whistle blowing as policy and tool for fighting corruption as well as protection of whistle blowers.’’
He further said that it is his hope that managers of the policy, the National Assembly that is currently working on a Whistle Blower Protection Bill, the media, civil society groups and NGOs, public interest lawyers, academics, researchers and all patriotic Nigerians will find this report useful and will continue to actively engage the whistle blower process.
Also speaking at the launch was former EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who chaired the event.
Ribadu expressed his delight at the launch of the project and commended AFRICMIL and the MacArthur Foundation for supporting it.
The decision to empower public institutions, the media, and civil society, in an attempt to strengthen the current push against corruption he said, is a wonderful decision on the part the foundation.
He said, ‘’the whistle blower policy is not a perfect document. There are issues and grey areas that need to be addressed to arrive at a more robust document. The backend of the public interface platform needs serious tightening to make it fool proof and ensure that it is not compromised. Those who volunteer information need to be sure of their security and confidentiality.
‘’These are some of the issues the Corruption Anonymous (CORA) project of the African Centre for media and information literacy has tried to address through this publication.
‘’I believe it will benefit policy makers, the media, civil societies and members of the public seeking to understand and interface with the whistle blowing policy.’’
The Deputy Director of the MacArthur Foundation, Dayo Olaide also stated that the Foundation used to be more focused on Girl Child education and other issues but recently decided to also support fights against corruption.
‘’We decided to support AFRICMIL with their advocacy and project because we believe in its ability to make a difference. At the heart of the project is public sensitisation. We need to also find ways of bringing Nigerians in diaspora on board in order to help expose Nigerians with looted funds abroad,’’ he said.
Most of the speakers at the launch commended AFRICMIL and unanimously echoed that some of the things the government needs to do is to strengthen the protection of the whistle blower, show commitment and be up to its responsibilities and reward promises.
The project report is available for download on www.corruptionanonymous.org and www.africmil.org.