In 1777, a midshipman in the United States Continental Navy by the name Samuel Shaw together with a Third Lieutenant Richard Marvin blew a whistle regarding the torture of British prisoners of war by the Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Navy during the revolutionary war. These two were regarded as heroes whose act led to the passage of the first Whistleblower Law passed in the United States by the Continental Congress on 30th July, 1778 by a unanimous vote. The United States equally declared to defend the two in a libel suit filed against them.
In 1972, W. Mark Felt who was an Associate Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was responsible for leaking information on President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal and which subsequently smoothen the way to the resignation of the Republican President Richard Nixon of the United States of America on the 9th August, 1974. Same whistle blown by Mark Felt saw the indictment, trial and conviction of about 43 people, majority of who were President Richard Nixon administration officials.
Another hero in the 1970s is Frank Serpico, then an officer of the New York police department (NYPD). Frank Serpico was the first police officer in the history of NYPD to step forward to report and subsequently testify openly about widespread, systematic corruption payoffs amounting to millions of dollars.
In some instances, the heroic whistle blowers are even awarded huge sum of money in appreciation of their honesty. Some among others include Cheryl D. Eckard who was awarded $96 Million in 2010 for exposing contamination problems at GSK’s Pharmaceutical Manufacturing operation. Another one was Bradley Birkenfeld who was awarded $104 million in September 2012.
Now let’s compare similar instances within mother Nigeria. Some few months ago, a whistle was blown regarding a scandal that took place in the Aviation sector of Nigeria by the then Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah regarding a purchase of 2 BMW armoured Cars at N255 million for her personal use. To our surprise, the Federal Government shortly after the leak started to witch hunt the whistle blower who is an employee of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and tagging him a criminal. This led to a great controversy and so much criticism against the Federal Government with greater support to the whistle blower from every angle of the country and beyond. Some among others include Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer based in the United States, Aminu Gamawa, who promised to organize 100 lawyers in defence of the whistleblower in the event criminal charges are pressed against him. Another is Femi Fani-Kayode, who equally pledged to represent the whistleblower pro bono public in the event of prosecution. After much public effort and reactions, we can say the aviation ministry whistle blower narrowly escaped if truly he is off target.
Shortly after that, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi blew another whistle regarding a missing crude oil fund to the tune of $20 billion from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). To the Nigerians greatest dismay, we woke up on the 20th of February, 2014 only to receive an update of the suspension of the same CBN Governor on the ground of financial recklessness and misconduct inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline.
At this point, we should ask what our Federal Government is really up to. This is a government that was brought up to the knowledge of inappropriateness within it, only for it to turn round and punish the man who made the call.
Ours is the usual side criticisms and a little barking from the few courageous ones which equally fade away as the clock ticks. For the present shameless act of the presidency however, the feeling is different as I feel the guilt from everywhere not because I was part of the decision but for being part as a Nigerian. I just pray with time, Nigerians will not start hiding their identity among other nationals for the shameless act of incompetency by our undeserving government.
In the history of our country, there has been a series of political scandals and shameless abuse of office, but the same Governments have a sense of guilt. It surprise me how our present government has no any iota of shame in its dealings and always act confidently in support of corruption as though it is ruling the kingdom of animals.
I believe that if there is any time that Nigerians needs Whistleblower Protection Act, it is now; because it appears presently nobody will be safe for revealing any unwarranted act of our government. We need more whistle blowers. Enough is enough!
Jikanya’u wrote from Katsina