Lagos state commissioner for finance, Rabiu Olowo has called for a reappraisal of the policy of financial incentives on whistleblowing, insisting that preventing theft is better than recovery efforts and chasing thieves!
Olowo stated this in a keynote address he delivered at the ongoing Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN Malaysia District) conference ongoing at Kuching, Malaysia.
According to him, while whistleblowing is a patriotic activity and should be embraced by all, it would not be a selfless undertaking if tied solely to material gain.
He stated that in more advanced countries like the United kingdom for example, whistleblowers are usually motivated by the good of the society, arguing that the policy might not be sustainable in the long run if civic duty is not emphasised.
Olowo raised three pertinent questions in his address: First, “what if those who steal public funds first settle potential whistleblowers with part of the money, would they still blow the whistle after collecting their own share?
Second, are those who collect financial incentives actually patriotic or they are seeking for their share of stolen money? Third, should financial incentives be paid before recovery of stolen money or after? What if the monies are not recovered?
The commissioner further argued that it may be better to emphasise policies that prevent corruption, in the first instance, than policies that seek to recover funds after they might have disappeared.
He noted that while financial incentives have led to a sharp increase in whistleblowing cases, there is need for critical analysis and further research to determine the efficacy and sustainability of financial incentives in a country with a norm of corruption.
“For instance, financial incentives introduced in the Nigerian case is witnessing a lot of hiccups, arguments, accusations and counter accusations. There have also been several cases of fake whistleblowing as desperate wealth seekers may have turned it into a “money making business”.
He noted that the current administration in Lagos state believed effective internal controls and prudent management of public funds as this is vision of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.