BY COBHAM NSA, ABUJA – The Federal Government has saved about N594.09 billion from the whistle blowing policy since its inception in year 2016.
Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Muhammed K. Dikwa, gave the figures on Thursday, saying government is upbeat by the gains made through the policy and therefore set to achieve new milestones going forward.
Dr Dikwa said the whistle blowing and witness protection bill 2019, is being packaged to make the policy effective as well as provide legal backing and administrative guide for its implementation.
Addressing participants at a workshop on the overview of whistle blowing policy in Nigeria tagged: “Implementation of the whistle blower policy in Nigeria, Issues, Challenges and Way forward”, Mr. Dikwa expressed confidence that the whistle blowing policy has come to stay in Nigeria.
He said Nigeria has joined other countries of the world to accept the policy as a globally acceptable norm and will therefore not compromise on the policy delivery in the overall interest of Nigerians.
According to him, the Federal Government’s resolve to reduce cost of governance and bring wastages and leakages to the barest minimum informed the policy introduction and the need to have in place a strong legislation backing it.
The Permanent Secretary said government initiated the policy to fight corruption, and other financial crimes such as violation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), elimination of ghost workers syndrome, and staff collecting double salaries in more than one organization.
He also said the infractions include: retirees without proper records but still collecting salaries, recoveries of salaries from retired diplomats for almost two years to the tune of N192m, and non remittances by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) among other crimes.
Admitting there have been challenges in the course of implementing the policy that has drastically reduced corruption in both civil and criminal cases, Dikwa listed the concerns as lack of proper legal framework, poor funding, lack of coordination and diverse information among relevant organisations.
He further explained that aside issues of not following proper channel to give information, sometimes information given were fake, therefore contradicting investigations.
On the way forward, Mr Dikwa challenged participants to critically review the draft bill and make additional inputs that would be forwarded the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.
The Permanent Secretary, who described the whistle blowing policy as work in progress, urged the participants to work assiduously towards legalizing and institutionalizing the policy in line with global best practices that countries have adopted over the years.
In her presentation, Chairman of the Whistle blowing draft Committee, Mrs Peculiar Ohabor, a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, said the draft bill, which has 18 bits and 107 sections, was proposed to address the challenges that are evolving in the society.
Ohabor noted that countries like Canada, Senegal, United Kingdom, USA, and European Union have already accepted and adopted the policy, even as she stressed the need for Nigeria to legalize and institutionalize the policy without further delay.
A statement by Hassan Dodo, Director of Information in the Ministry, said the workshop was attended by Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. M.K.Dikwa, top Management staff, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and Federal Ministry of Justice.
Others are representatives from Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), National Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU), Department of State Security (DSS), members of Civil Society and the Media.