The concept Whistle Blowing There is no consensus definition of whistle-blowing (Brennan & Kelly, 2007). One consistent element that scholars agree on is that whistle-blowing is an act to account, report as well as expose wrongdoings. The whistle-blowing term has been differently defined and debated in available literatures. The substantial disagreement as well as arguments surround which channels (external vs. internal whistle-blowing) to report and whether auditors (external or internal), should be countered as whistleblowers.
For instance, some researchers assert that whistle-blowing is an action which involves reporting of the wrongdoing is only to outside persons. Jubb (2011) asserted that “whistleblowing is an ethical dilemma because it necessitates a breach of trust”. This is because the whistleblower has violated his loyalty not only to his own organisation but to the professional association he represents as well as to the general public. To Jubb (2009), an internal disclosure on the other hand, is considered as discreet and the intention is only to get the attention of internal management and not to the general public and hence fails to create the notion of an ethical dilemma.
Whistleblower According to Gobert and Punch (2017), whistleblower can be referred to as “... an individual within an organisation who reveals negative information about the organization, its practices or its personnel. The information may relate to abuse of power, fraud, mismanagement, waste, corruption, racial or sexual harassment, or health and safety dangers. A whistleblower is a person who tells the public or someone in authority about alleged dishonest or illegal activities occurring in a government department, a public or private organization or a company. The alleged misconduct may be classified in several ways; a violation of law, regulation and or a direct threat to the public interest such as fraud, health /safety violation and corruption (Hannigan, 2016). Miceli, Near and Dozier (2011) describe whistleblowers as committed members of the organization who feel compelled to report wrongdoing by their own sense of moral behavior.
Challenges and Prospect In Whistle Blowing Whistleblowers suffer in various ways including ostracism, harassment, punishment, punitive transfers, reprimands and dismissal The risk of corruption is significantly sensitive in environments where the reporting of wrongdoing is not supported or protected. These include: 1. Public and private sector employees have access to up-to-date information concerning their workplaces’ practices, and are usually the first to recognize wrongdoings. 2. However, those who report wrongdoings may be subject to retaliation, such as intimidation, harassment, dismissal or violence by their fellow colleagues or superiors. In many countries, whistle blowing is even associated with treachery or spying. 3. Whistleblower protection is therefore essential to encourage the reporting of misconduct, fraud and corruption. 4. Providing effective protection for whistleblowers supports an open organizational culture where employees are not only aware of how to report but also have confidence in the reporting procedures. 5. It also helps businesses prevent and detect bribery in commercial transactions.
Other Challenges to Whistle-Blowing Associated with their Policies In Nigeria Like other policy of the government, Whistle-Blowing policy is facing its own challenges ranging from lack of legal backing, political terrain, to bureaucratic or administrative cumbersome. Some of the challenges facing whistle blowing are explained below; • Lack of Appropriate Enacted Laws: As at present, there is no legislation of National Assembly backing Whistle-Blowing Policy in Nigeria. Adeyemo (2015) opined that in the event that a person wants to whistle-blow, protection for the identification of whistleblowers can be found in S.39 (1) of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and S.64 (1) Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000. However, if the identify is for any reason compromised, there is no system in place which offer further protection. Dailytrust, April 18, 2017 stated that, “The Whistle Blower Protection Bill, 2008 is a bill for an Act to provide for the manner in which individuals may in the public interest disclose information that relates to unlawful or other illegal conduct or corrupt practices of others, to provide for the protection against victimisation of persons who make these disclosures; to provide for related matters.” Senator Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon sponsored the bill. Since then, this bill is yet to be passed by the National Assembly. • Prolonged Prosecution of Accused Corruptors: On February 12, 2017, News Agency of Nigeria reported that Whistle blower rake in $160million, and #8b for Nigeria, through amount recovered from former Group Managing Director of NNPC ($9.2m), $30m cash in Ikoyi Apartment and others. Till date, former Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mohammed Yakubu, alleged to have illegal possession of huge cash is yet to jailed or his case yet to be concluded after almost two years of the discovery. This may just be like those corrupt practices allegation against former political office holders that have use more than ten years in the court of law without judgement, with eminent of natural death in Nigeria polity. • Lack of Continuity in Government Policy: The Whistle-blower policy was initiated and introduced by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, in his quest to finding lasting solution to the stubborn disease called corruption in the Nigeria system. A change in government has always being major setback to major policy of the government in Nigeria. For instance, Operation Feed the Nation, Rural Banking Policy, etc are few of the government policy that has failed to see the light of the subsequent government. Even, less than two years of its initiation, the effect of whistle-blower policy has reduced in this year 2018, may be due to the eminent effect of the coming general election in 2019. What will be the fate of the policy after 2019 general election is a question to answer. • Opposition by Political Party other than Ruling Party: Political parties, especially the opposition sees the Whistle-blower policy has an instrument of the present administration against the opposition, with believe that member of the ruling party will be protected from its uses. The main opposition is not well disposed to the effect of the policy revealing the level of atrocity committed during their tenure as the ruling party. • Political Terrain of Nigeria: The political terrain of Nigeria is not usually in support of policy of a ruling party. It is usually seen and viewed as an instrument to fight opposition. Also, policy of government is not usually supported by political parties except the ruling party, which may be seen as lack of patriotism, emanated from political interest of the ruling class. The subsequent government, even belonging to the same political party, usually neglects the policy of the government that handed over. This may be due to lack of political ideology within the Nigeria polity. The Remedy to Whistle Blowing • The National Assembly should expedite action on the passage of the Whistleblower Protection Bill before it. • The court should ensure quick determination of corrupt cases to ensure that it serve as deterrent to the public office holder who may be thinking of embezzling public fund. • The police should carry out background information before exposing the corrupt cases to the media to avoid way-out for unpatriotic legal practitioners. • There should be adequate protection for whistleblower against lost of job, reputation and adequate compensation. • There should be a separate court for corruption cases to reduce long and indefinite adjournment being experience on cases in Nigeria court system. • Whistle blowers in Nigeria should be encouraged by ensuring that their security is not compromised. They must be sure of protection against any harm, intimidation or reprimand as a result of exposing unethical and unwholesome practices in Government, the country or within an organization. In the administration of justice, Government should set up separate courts to listen to cases generated by whistleblowing in order not to discourage the whistle-blowers. Justice delayed, they say is justice denied‖. Also, the sanctions to be meted out to the companies and/or individuals that commit wrong doings should be weighty enough to serve as deterrence to other people that might be contemplating committing same. If the sanction is ridiculously low, it will make mockery of the system and to disincentive whistleblowers from revealing wrong doings that come to their notice. • Creation of special provision and protection funds by the government and various organizations as a way of providing for individuals or entities who might suffer victimization as a result of whistle blowing should be done. When people are sure that their source of livelihood will not be blocked when they expose unwholesome and sharp practise which are against the public good, they will be more willing and ready to provide such information. The institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) is a leading good example in this, and I challenge the government of Nigeria and other institutions (Public and Private) to take a cue from this. In fact information and communication technology should be deployed to expose security threats to potential whistle-blowers, so as to allay their fears as well as motivate them to speak up and to also appear in court to give evidences when and where the need arises. • The ratings Nigeria has been getting from Transparency International leaves nothing to be desired about the country. This is in view of the fact that Nigeria is doing badly in terms of Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and other criteria. By promoting the culture of sustained and sustainable whistle blowing in Nigeria, our Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), Human Development Index (HDI), Doing Business Report (DBR) amongst others would improve and consequences of which will be investors willing to come and do business in Nigeria
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