Temie Giwa: Corruption – Nigeria needs to protect its whistle blowers (Y! FrontPage)

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…it is a warning to those who might yet choose to stand with the people, that their government will not stand for them… Nigeria must learn to treat her whistle blowers with more respect and they must be protected at all cost.

The man works at a bar and when he heard a presidential candidate make a negative comment about 47% of the population, and plans to buy a Chinese firm, he taped the candidate’s comments and went home. In that moment, he had sealed the fate of the candidate, and his country’s future without knowing. Before releasing the video, the man spent his time trying to decide what his duty was. He thought that releasing the video might come at a personal cost, he could lose his job, or embarrass his employer, but he also thought that he had a responsibility to his country and to the truth so he had to take the risk. A video that cost very little helped change an election that cost billions of dollars, this was the power of little personal sacrifices and that is how democracy thrives. Men, with ordinary lives, choosing truth and sacrifice consistently in little ways far away from history and the media allow democracy to thrive and this is the only thing that sustains a government of the people for the people. Yet, Mr. Prouty was not alone, he was supported by a culture that values dissent and protects people by giving them social services that cushion a fall in case they are not protected. Men like Mr. Prouty are protected under the law and he felt confident that he would not starve even if there were consequences.

How do whistle blowers and ordinary men who choose to do hard but noble things survive in Nigeria? Suppose Scott Prouty was Nigerian, will he be alive?

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu spent the last decade serving Nigeria by working to reduce corruption. Mallam Ribadu’s tenure at EFCC came at huge personal sacrifices. He was repeatedly offered bribes; he escaped two assassination attempts, lost staff members to these attempts and ultimately chose exile over certain death. This was the cost of doing the right thing. Under his leadership, the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission arrested and convicted various prominent officials; among these convictions was that of Former Bayelsa Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was convicted for stealing public funds to the tune of $10 million and was subsequently sent to prison for two years.

Last week, the Presidency decided to grant the former governor and convicted corrupt official a pardon stating the prerogative of presidential powers to do just that. The furor over this pardon brought Ribadu back into spotlight as the Nigerian people wanted to know how it feels to have worked hard to get justice for the people of Bayelsa and to have all that thrown away by the President of Nigeria, a man who claims a commitment to reduce corruption. Nuhu Ridabu, closest thing Nigeria has to a whistle blower, is understandably upset and said about the pardon: “It is sending a message that if you are found to be corrupt ultimately nothing will ever happen to you. It will embolden those who are corrupt.”

Mallam Ribadu is right, it is a slap in the face by the presidency to all Nigerians who have chosen to the right thing at a personal cost, it is a warning to those who might yet choose to stand with the people, that their government will not stand for them, and it is a dangerous development that we must fight in order to save our country. Nigeria must learn to treat her whistle blowers with more respect and they must be protected at all cost. The global outcry against this pardon is our first step and we must keep up the fight.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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