Abuja, Nigeria. May 16th, 2017 – Latest public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls has revealed that the majority (92 percent) of Nigerian citizens are willing to blow the whistle whenever they suspect corrupt practices. This comes on the heels of the declaration made by the Federal Government through its Finance Ministry, to reward any of its citizens that have substantial information to track and recover stolen government funds with between 2 and 5 percent of the recovered loot. 58 percent of the respondents surveyed disclosed that they were aware of this policy and the North West geo-political zone (73 percent) formed the highest percentage of respondents who are aware. This policy appears to be yielding positive results as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have since then, made several discoveries of looted funds hidden away in various places. It is therefore no surprise that the vast majority (92 percent) of the populace declared support for the policy.
Furthermore, out of the proportion that showed support for the policy, 49 percent were of the opinion that the policy would help curb corruption in the country, while 12 percent believe it would help the government recover stolen funds. Contrarily, 8 percent of respondents did not support the policy; as they were of the opinion that the monies recoverd so far have not been utilized to the “benefit of the poor masses” (25 percent). Other respondents in this category also stated that “the policy is all a camouflage” (17 percent) and “it is not the best way to fight corruption” (14 percent). These concerns are in line with some media reports which have questioned the outcome of some recent whistle blowing activities and recovered loot by the EFCC. Based on this, some Nigerians are of the opinion that the recovered funds should be mainly channeled into “infrastructural development” (34 percent), “invested into the economy” (14 percent), and used to ‘improve the wellbeing of the poor’ (10 percent) amongst others.
Finally, while the whistle blowing policy is a welcomed initiative in the fight against corruption, the Fedral Government must consistently ensure that recovered funds are used judiciously. Additionally, the issue of anonymity of the whistle blowers is very crucial to the longevity of the policy especially with the spate of insecurity in the country. Government must do all it can to protect the whistle blowers and keep their end of the bargain by rewarding them as appropriate, in order to motivate others to expose corrupt practices. These are some of the key findings from the Whistle Blowing Policy poll conducted in the week commencing May 1st, 2017.
Nigeria’s problems with corruption are well-documented and in a bid to curtail corruption, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the whistle blowing policy in December 2016. The policy’s objective, according to the Federal Ministry of Finance, is to increase disclosure of financial crimes, support the fight against financial crimes and corruption, improve the level of confidence in public institutions, enhance transparency and accountability in the management of public funds, improve Nigeria’s Open Government Ranking and Ease of Doing Business Indicators, and recover public funds that can be deployed to finance Nigeria’s infrastructural deficit.
The Ministry describes a whistleblower as any person who voluntarily discloses information about a possible misconduct or violation that has occurred, is ongoing, or is about to occur. The channel of reporting cases of suspected financial crimes is via a website (http://whistle.finance.gov.ng) which is a dedicated and secure portal developed by the Federal Ministry Of Finance specifically for the whistle blowing policy. The portal contains details, directives and modus-operandi of the programme for potential whistle blowers. The policy provides confidentiality for whistle blowers and the whistleblower may be entitled to anywhere between 2.5 per cent (minimum) and 5.0 per cent (maximum) of the total amount recovered depending on the mode or condition of recovery.
There have been chronicles of recovered funds since the programme commenced, with outrageous amounts recovered. Interestingly, there are mixed reactions regarding this policy across the Nigerian social space; particularly as regards support for the programme, what the recovered loots should be used for and a percieved lack of transperancy in accounting for the amount recovered so far. Hence, prompting the government to state that it will announce the amount of funds recovered since the programme began on the 29th of may 2017 which happens to be Democracy Day in Nigeria. Against this backdrop, NOIPolls conducted a survey to guage the perception of Nigerians on the Whistle-blowing Policy.
The first question sought to measure the level of awareness of the Federal Government’s Whistle Blowing Policy and findings revealed that 58 percent of respondents were aware, while the remaining 42 percent said they were unaware. Analysis across geo-political zones showed that the North-West zone (73 percent) is the region with the highest proportion of respondents who showed awareness and this could be attributed to the fact that the earliest discoveries made via the whistle blowing policy was from this zone.
The survey also sought to guage the support of Nigerians regarding the Federal Government’s whistle blowing policy and findings revealed that more than 9 in 10 (92 percent) respondents nationwide are in support of the policy and only a meagre 2 percent are not in support. This overwhelming support for the whistle blowing policy is easily understood given the huge sums of recovered funds since the program commenced.
Evidently, these findings further corroborate the Federal Government’s appreciation of the cooperation of Nigerians in its fight against corruption via the whistle-blower policy, stating that the current administration has received immeasurable support from Nigerians since it’s commencement.
Furthermore, Nigerians who showed support for the policy were of the opinion that the policy ‘will curb corruption’ (49 percent), “help recover stolen funds’ (12 percent) and that ‘it is wrong to steal public funds’ (10 percent) among other positive reasons.
On the contrary, of the 8 percent of respondents who do not support the policy, a large proportion (25 percent) cited that the money recovered will not be beneficial to poor Nigerians as their reason. While 17 percent believe that it is a camouflage, 14 percent disclosed that it is not the best way to fight corruption. In addition, 11 percent stated that the security of the whistle blowers is not guaranteed, and another 11 percent believe the policy has been one sided amongst other reasons.
In measuring the willingness of Nigerians to be part of the whistle blowing process, findings revealed that slightly more than 9 in 10 (92 Percent) Nigerians are willing to blow the whistle if they suspect any corrupt practice in their environment. This can be traced to the fact that Nigerians are becoming increasingly aware of the catastrophic effects of corruption on the economy and their general wellbeing hence, they are willing to expose any corrupt practice in the nation. This also confirms the wide and general acceptability of the whistle blowing policy. Analysis across geo-political zones reveals that Nigerians in the North-East would be more willing to blow the whistle.
Finally, the survey sampled the opinion of Nigerians on the outcome for funds recovered through the whistle blowing policy and 34 percent of the respondents suggested that the recovered loot should be used ‘for infrastructural development’ which is in line with the Federal Government’s suggestion to finance the country’s infrastructural deficit with recovered loot.
In addition, 14 percent of respondents suggested that the recovered loot ‘should be invested into the economy’ and 10 percent of respondents suggested that the loot should be used to improve the wellbeing of the poor among other suggestions.
In conclusion, the poll revealed that although a vast majority of Nigerians (92 percent), support the whistle blowing policy and are also willing to blow the whistle on corrupt practices, a minor 8 percent still disagree with the policy due to concerns centred arround the outcome and transperency of the process. For instance, 5 percent of Nigerians who do not support the policy are of the opinion that defaulters arrested so far have not been properly dealth with. Hence, it is imperative that the government and relevant stakeholders synergise and address the issues dissuading some Nigerians from supporting the whistle blowing policy.
Additionally, respondents believe the recovered funds should be used for “infrastructural development” (34 percent), “job creation” (15 percent), “it should be invested in the economy” (14%) and used to “improve the well being of the poor” (10 percent). This is very crucial to Nigerians as it will go a long way in ameliorating the present economic situation.
Finally, while the poll clearly revealed a high support of Nigerians on the policy, it is imperative that the protection of the whistle blowers should be guaranteed as stated by 11 percent of Nigerians. Clearly, if this and other issues raised are properly addressed, the federal government’s whistle blowing policy will ultimately enjoy an even better support by Nigerians.
The opinion poll was conducted in the week commencing May 1st, 2017. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geo-political zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise – within a range of plus or minus 3%. NOIPolls Limited is the No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com, you can also download our mobile app NOIPolls on your smartphone.
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NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.