Ike Ezugwu

President-Muhammadu-BuhariWhistleblowing simply means “the disclosure by a person, usually an employee in a government agency or private enterprise, to the public or to those in authority, of mismanagement, corruption, illegality, or some other wrongdoing”. A whistleblower (also whistle-blower or whistle blower), therefore, is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, corrupt, or inappropriate within an organization – whether private or public.

Many countries recognize the importance of whistleblowing and the public value has been appreciated in various forms. For example, in the United States, “federal and state statutes and regulations have been enacted to protect whistleblowers from various forms of retaliation. Even without a statute, numerous decisions encourage and protect whistleblowing on grounds of public policy. In addition, the federal False Claims Act (31 U.S.C.A. § 3729) will reward a whistleblower who brings a lawsuit against a company that makes a false claim or commits fraud against the government.”

Persons who act as whistleblowers are often the subject of retaliation by their employers and those with interest in the corrupt practice exposed. States know this and go to a great length in protecting whistleblowers.


Reports say that “in the early 1990s, commentators were claiming that men were more likely than women to blow the whistle on improper conduct. Some analysts suggested the reason for this perception was that men seem to seek financial gain for whistleblowing. During the early 2000s, however, a number of women became involved in high profile acts of whistleblowing – for reasons other than fame and fortune”.

In 2001, Sherron Watkins, a vice president at Enron Corporation, informed the company’s board that Enron’s accounting practices were improper. Enron later suffered a major collapse—largely as a result of its accounting practices—that led to the company’s Bankruptcy and to the indictment of the company’s auditor and chief financial officer. The following year, Cynthia Cooper, an auditor with WorldCom, told the company’s board that WorldCom had covered up major losses of $3.8 billion through false bookkeeping. Like Enron, the accounting failures led to WorldCom’s bankruptcy. During the same year, Coleen Rowley, an FBI staff attorney for more than 20 years, sent a letter to FBI director robert mueller, indicating that the FBI’s national headquarters had mishandled an investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was later believed to be a co-conspirator in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Rowley later spoke before the intelligence committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate about her accusations.

Time magazine dubbed 2002 the “Year of the Whistleblower,” and named Watkins, Cooper, and Rowley as its “Persons of the Year.” Their stories fueled the observation that women are more likely to become whistleblowers not for the potential for fame and financial gain, but out of a sense of duty. Although Watkins, Cooper, and Rowley were each subjected to rather harsh treatment by their respective employers following their disclosures, they became national celebrities by “speaking up when no one else would.”

Blow whistle get 5%

The Nigerian government has reportedly approved a policy that would see it paying whistle-blowers to encourage the reporting of crimes and other scandals. Premium Times reports that part of the highlights of the new policy is that whistle-blowers whose revelations lead to recovery of money would be entitled to up to five per cent of the recovered sum. Vanguard Newspaper further reports that “the Federal Government has approved payment of not more than five per cent of the recovered loot to any successful whistle blower, who provides relevant information leading to the recovered funds. The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, made this known when briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja….”

Mrs. Adeosun said The Council approved a Whistleblowing policy aimed at consolidating the ongoing anti-corruption campaign embarked upon by the present administration. She disclosed that the policy would soon be supported by a bill already receiving due attention of the National Assembly.  The Minister assured that adequate measures are being taken to protect and safe guard the lives and identities of whistle blowers. “If you whistle-blow in public-spirit and in good faith, you will be protected. “If you feel that you have been treated badly because of your report, you can file a formal complaint. If you have suffered harassment, intimidation or victimization for sharing your concerns, restitution will be made for any loss suffered.” She added.

Will financial rewards for people who confidentially report corruption not expose us to more corruption? Wouldn’t it expose corrupt government officials to greater corruption since the 5% for the allocated could be given to an anonymous whistleblower or a ghost?  Can a corrupt Government play by the terms of the letter and stick to the dictates of her won statutes? I doubt so. I ask again, motivated by the financial gain more than anything else, wouldn’t Nigerians make whistleblowing a business? Before now, at least in Nigeria, whistleblowing was an act of love-for-the-state/society and not motivated by personal financial gain. Buhari has consciously or otherwise made it a business. Blow the whistle and earn 5%! Who blew the whistle on the Abacha Loot? Who blew the whistle on Dasukigate? Five percent (5% ) of all the recovered loot gone within a twinkle of an eye!

This is corruption in whistle.