The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy has sensitised various communities in Anambra State to the whistleblowing policy of the Federal Government.
The agency highlighted the importance of training and sensitising the rural communities to understand the importance of whistleblowing and how it impacts positively on the general public.
Speaking during a one-day stepdown training/meeting on ‘Strengthening the capacity of stakeholders on the whistleblowing policy’, in Ekwulobia, Anambra State, on Wednesday, the coordinator, AFRICMIL, Chidi Onuma, described whistleblowing simply as “See something, say something”.
Onuma said the rural people were being trained on the whistleblowing policy with a view to equipping them on ways they could effectively monitor constituency and government activities to ensure the right thing was done.
He advised them to always report any wrongdoing which has negative public effect to anti-graft agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, he AFRICMIL or the state designated anti-graft agency for prompt action.
The programme, which was facilitated by the International Peace and Civil Responsibility Centre and MacArthur Foundation, had members from the Anambra North/South and Central constituencies in attendance.
Onuma told the participants to ensure that their reports are true, factual and with evidences to back them up, to avoid reprisal.
He said, “Since 2017, AFRICMIL has been working on a project tagged ‘Corruption anonymous’ designed to build public confidence and support for the whistleblowing policy of the government of Nigeria. The whistleblowing policy is simply telling us to report to the appropriate authorities, any wrongdoing capable of negatively affecting the public. It simply means see something say something.”
The Chairman, Anambra Civil Society Network, Prince Chris Azor, while commending Governor Chukwuma Soludo for providing a conducive environment for the programme, noted that a lot was needed to be done in terms of the protection of whistleblowers across the country.
Azor said people were worried that whistleblowers did not have adequate protection, not necessarily protection in terms of their lives, but also loss of jobs.
He said, “We need to ensure that public servants and community volunteers are given adequate protection, especially in terms of job security because if people know that they will lose their jobs, they will not be inclined to the whistleblowing policy.
“The whistleblowing policy could be a powerful tool in the hands of Nigerians when the gaps were filled because government could not be everywhere.
“It is the individuals who know their communities, LGAs, state and the many wrongdoings going on there. So, we empower people through information, through creating a platform that they have confidence in.
“They need to know that if they report any case, their lives will be protected, their jobs will be secured and ultimately nobody is going to punish them for the action they have taken. And I strongly believe, it will help in creating confidence in the system.”
The Transition Committee Chairman of Aguata Council Area of the State, Chibueze Ofobuike, charged the participants to be bold enough to expose any corrupt public officeholders, contractors, politicians, community president generals and other elective officers of any wrongdoing in their various constituencies.
Ofobuike told the stakeholders that Soludo is interested in the programme and has promised to implement the policy in his administration to help promote transparency, accountability and good governance.
He also assured that the government would reward any law-abiding citizen, who exposes corrupt government officials, contractors and other elective leaders in the state.
He said the whistleblowers would also be given adequate government protection.
The one-day training programme with the theme: ‘Community Based Organisations As Change Agents In Promoting Whistleblowing,’ attracted participants from across the three Senatorial Districts of the state.