Civil Society Engagement in Anti-Corruption Crusade: Protecting the Whistle Blower

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Civil Society Engagement in Anti-Corruption Crusade:

Protecting the Whistle Blower

By

Hon. (Dr) Okezie Kelechukwu
(Executive Director, Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation/ newebonyi@yahoo.com

Being a paper presented at A 3-Day International Conference on Corruption, Governance and Development in Nigeria held at the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Research and Training Mambayya House Bayero University, Kano in Conjunction with UNECA & UNDP, December 6 – 8, 2011

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Abstract
Corruption has been painted as a horrible monster. Every attempt to tame or destroy it has resulted in the monster destroying the agency or institution fighting it. Agencies created by government to fight corruption, with passage of time becomes ineffectual, a tool of the government to witch-hunt perceived enemies or become corrupt in themselves, making corruption to continue unabated. For effective fight and control of the monster, those who bear the brunt of corruption - the citizens- need to own and prosecute the war as it obtains in other countries such as Singapore. But engaging the citizens demands that their capacity be built around anti-corruption, to resist, report and fight corruption. Engaging the citizens demand that the civil society and non-governmental organisations spearhead and lead the crusade because revolutions, as recorded in history were never led by the multitude but by the few activists who were fired by their passion in the pursuit of their vision. However, the civil society groups have low capacity to lead the fight as most of them lack legitimacy and transparency. Again, they operate in the same environment where corruption thrives. The whistle-blower operates in an insecure environment and the insecurity associated with whistleblowing has made most anti-corruption activists to acquiesce, since there is no legal framework to protect and reward whistle-blowers in Nigeria. Besides, public support for anti-corruption is low because of ignorance, poverty, ethnicity, lack of national values, low capacity of anti-corruption CSO’s to carry out awareness creation, and lack of institutional integrity of anti-corruption commissions. Therefore, for the masses to support and own the anticorruption crusade there is the need to build the capacity of both the people and the civil society groups. There should be reward for those who have lost their lives in promoting integrity in the society. Every Ministry, Department and Agency of government should have a whistleblowing and complaints’ handling policy that protects whistle-blowers from retaliations such as discrimination, reprisal, harassment, vengeance, among many others.

Introduction

It gives me great pleasure to be part of this international conference to discuss issues of corruption. No time is more apt than now seeing the devastating consequences of corruption on our nation. The issues are critical and if the people in attendance at this conference will go home with the resolution to fight corruption as change agents, then there is still hope for this country, but should this be one of the intellectual jamborees, where grammars are assessed, passions raised and news items made of the program without positive pointer to Nigeria getting better, then it goes to confirm the euphemism that Nigerians are all motion without movement.

Corruption seems intractable in this country that one wonders if corruption should be accepted as a necessary way of life. Agencies put in place to fight corruption soon get corrupt, and corruption comes back with greater vengeance, making mockery of government, her institutions, and the people. Can the civil society engagement in corruption fighting yield results seeing that the civil society are part...
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