Finance minister speaks on the impact of whistle-blowers policy as FG moves to establish office

Finance minister speaks on the impact of whistle-blowers policy as FG moves to establish office

- The Muhammadu Buhari administration is hell-bent on ensuring the whistle-blower policy does not die

- The government has concluded plans to establish a functioning whistle-blower office

- This was disclosed by the minister of finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun

Nigeria's minister of finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has revealed that there are plans to set up a functioning whistle-blower policy office.

The minister revealed this on Tuesday, August 15, in Abuja while speaking about the impact of the whistle-blower policy introduced by the present administration.

According to the finance minister, the whistle-blower office will be domiciled in the ministry of finance to protect individuals who provide information to the government.

She further said that the government has so far paid N325million to the first batch of whistle-blowers.

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Mrs Adeosun revealed that over 5,000 complaints have been received from whistle-blowers with 350 of them being actionable.

She also disclosed that investigative agencies were billed to embark on a study tour of Australia due to that country’s pedigree in whistleblowing.

According to her, much of the success of the policy had relied on the decision of the whistleblower to do the right thing, adding that of the 365 actionable tips received, over half of them came from public servants touching on issues such as contract inflation, ghost workers, illegal recruitments, misappropriation of funds, illegal sale of government assets, diversion of revenues, and violation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) regulations, among others.

Adeosun disclosed that in reviewing the information received, the government noticed that certain types of tips were recurring.

“For example, 39 per cent (144) of the actionable tips relate to misappropriation and diversion of funds/revenue, 16 per cent (60) relate to ghost workers, illegal recruitments and embezzlement of funds meant for personnel emolument, 15 per cent (56) relate to violation of TSA regulation, 13 per cent (49) relate to contract inflation/violation of the Procurement Act and failure to carry out projects for which funds have been released, and 9 per cent (34) relate to non-remittance of pension & NHIS deductions.

“Others include concealed bailout funds and embezzlement of funds from donor agencies,” she said.

Adeosun noted that overall, the volume of tips received had been greater and of higher quality than expected when the programme was first adopted.

“We continue to receive information everyday with total communication reaching above 5,000 in July through our various reporting channels.

“For example, many of the salary, tax and pensions under remittance cases shared a common thread. Several cases where institutions were found to have insufficient funds to meet their obligations often had illegal recruitments, which bloated the wage bill and agencies responded by part paying or short paying salaries, whilst applying to the federal government for salary shortfall payments.

“We are revisiting our procedures for approval of recruitment, which will improve our budgeting and control. Equally, in many cases where revenue has been diverted to accounts outside the TSA, we have reviewed our reconciliation and receipting processes.

“So the information being provided is useful in driving process improvements,” she stated.

She urged civil servants with information on possible misconduct or violations to come forward.

Adeosun noted that the reward scheme under the policy has also served as an incentive for disclosures, as a whistleblower is entitled to between 2.5 per cent and 5 per cent of the amount recovered, if the information provided is original and directly leads to the recovery of stolen or concealed funds or assets.

“Even in the payment process, we have built in protection to ensure that whistleblowers identities remain confidential and that bank and other details cannot be used to trace information providers,” she added.

In another development, Nigeria's minister of trade and investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, has launched the Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods project in Lagos.

The minister who was represented by the permanent secretary, Malam Aminu Bisalla, said the National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS) assessment of 2013, reveals that two out of three children under the age of five are chronically malnourished in Nigeria.

He pointed out that the federal government had been making effort to improve the situation with its drive to ensure compliance to food fortification regulations.

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NAIJ.com gathered that the $10million (over N3billion) four-year project is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and is designed to support local food processors produce more fortified foods to combat malnutrition.

Watch the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, speak about the achievements of the federal government on NAIJ.com TV:

Source: Naija.ng

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