There is a new “business” in town. It is called whistle-blowing. It’s a scheme designed by government to encourage Nigerians to expose corruption with an attraction of a 10 per cent pay out from the total sum of whatever is recovered. This means if any person has credible information of a looted sum or property starched somewhere, and reports same to security agencies, such an informant gets instantly rewarded with part of the recovered loot. This is meant to encourage good citizenship and help government with its war on corruption. The recent revelation by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed that the Federal Government has recovered a whopping sum of $151m (N42bn) and N8bn in looted funds is both encouraging and unprecedented.
The minister pointed out that the looted funds, which exclude the $9.2m in cash allegedly owned by a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu, were recovered from just three sources through whistle-blowers. According to the minister, the whistle-blowers gave actionable information to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).
We commend the whistle-blowers that provided unassailable information that led to the recovery of some of the looted funds in the country and urge the government to fulfill its own part of the policy by rewarding all those that divulged the relevant information. Drew Yakubu. This kind of effort helps to engender national cohesion and sense of patriotism. Of course, we condemn the unconscionable sleaze perpetrated by public service officials in particular that to all intents and purposes appears to have privatised the purse of the agency they hitherto superintended.
Again we must note that this anti-corruption strategy can only work effectively if those that provided vital leads to the recovery of looted funds are rewarded according to the stipulation of the policy. Rewarding them accordingly will embolden and encourage other whistle-blowers to give the relevant government agents more actionable information that will lead to recovery of more loot. We also press that government must continue to publicise any successful recovery through this policy at all times.
It is gratifying to note that the whistle-blower policy has started yielding the desired results not long after its introduction. The latest recovery of some humongous looted funds has demonstrated that the whistle-blower policy is indeed a good strategy in the fight against corruption. Without mincing words, it is one of the few relevant policies that this administration has introduced in its war against financial malfeasance. We urge it to continue with the policy because it is working.
The mind-boggling recovery shows that corruption is both systemic and endemic in the country. It also indicates the mindless extent the nation’s treasury was looted under the previous administration. A system that encourages individuals, especially civil servants and political appointees, to loot the country must be checked. Such a system needs to be overhauled so that checks and balances are put in place to check the cancerous corruption in the land. The Yakubu’s loot shows that the NNPC is seemingly a cesspool of mindless sleaze. There is need to reform the financial processes in the oil behemoth and check the incessant lootings.
It is unfortunate that Nigeria has had a history of looting by some political actors and corrupt public officers in the past. It is bad that the nation is yet to recover all the money looted during the administration of the late military leader, Gen. Sani Abacha. The fight against corruption will end up being a ruse except we come up with measures that make such mindless looting extremely difficult, if not impossible in the country in the long run. At the same time, Nigerian public officials should by now realise that stealing of public funds is no longer fashionable. It is outdated.
We suspect there are other Yakubus in our midst. Let anti-graft agencies including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others unearth other corrupt individuals or organizations conspired to render the country a sleaze headquarters. There should therefore be no delay in arresting Yakubu and others like him that owns the recovered looted funds. Let them be diligently prosecuted in accordance with our laws. If found guilty, must be punished according to the laws of the country. All those that aided the perpetration of the heinous financial crimes should be apprehended and prosecuted. All the recovered monies should be paid into the Federation Account and properly appropriated before being put into judicious use. Let this policy be used to recover looted money from states and local governments around the country.