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Jega: Lack of legal framework weakening whistleblower policy

Jega: Lack of legal framework weakening whistleblower policy
December 14
22:27 2021

Attahiru Jega, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says lack of legal framework is one of the major factors working against the efficacy of the country’s whistleblower policy.

Jega spoke on Tuesday at the zonal conference on whistleblower policy in Nigeria for the north-west zone, held in Kano.

The event was organised by the federal ministry of finance, budget and national planning.

“Fear and lack of legal protection and legal backing to get the reward are disincentives for people to volunteer information under the policy,” he said.


He said the policy itself, which is a very “laudable” initiative, needs to be properly contextualised for Nigerians to get the benefits attached to it, adding that because it is a federal policy, implementation at state and local levels are constrained.

He said the fact that it has taken over five years to have a legal framework for the policy shows “our national inertia to fighting corruption”, adding that it will require a lot of effort to get the national assembly to pass the bill.

Aside ensuring the speedy passage of a legal framework, Jega recommended a continuous review, revision, updating and improvement of the policy while drawing appropriate lessons from global best practices.


“In general, review, harmonise, sanitise and improve upon the roles and responsibilities of all anti-corruption agencies with regards to whistleblowing — for instance, interrogate whether the ministry of finance, budget and national planning is ideally the proper MDA to house and implement the whistle blower policy,” he said.

He also recommended that opportunities should be created for “accomplices” to “spill out” against “co-criminals”, while the framework itself should be expanded to be applicable to states and local governments.

“It is not clear what kind of information gives you 2.5 or 5 percent reward which makes it more arbitrary. Transparency in that regard can be very useful in the efficacy of the implementation of the policy,” he said.



In another development, Jega has identified poor management of the country’s diversity as the cause of the current security challenges.

The former INEC chairman said this over the weekend when he featured on the latest edition of the ‘Toyin Falola Interview Series’.

“One of the major challenges that have brought us as a country to where we are is the poor management of our diversity. We have not utilised the benefits of having a federal system of government to be able to better manage this diversity,” he said.

“The bottom line is the character and disposition of those who find themselves in leadership positions. If we continue to allow a political electoral recruitment process that brings into the federal and local levels people who do not think or act beyond their parochial confines, then the challenges will continue.


“The fundamental starting point is to recognise that we are a diverse country but we are all citizens of this country and our duties, rights and obligations are defined constitutionally; and also that everybody deserves the protection of the right to religion and other citizenship rights of residence.

“One of the major aggravating factors is the lack of interest, capacity or political will by those in positions of leadership to emphasise the protection and defence of citizenship rights.


“If rights are protected, we will minimise fears and suspicions, and then getting to relate with each other as citizens. It has to do with the way our leaders appreciate the need for association, unity in diversity, and put it into practice.

“Those in leadership positions have deliberately refused to get out of their ethno-religious cocoons when it comes to matters of governance which are supposed to be holistic and broadly inclusive.”



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