From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has lamented that the whistle-blowing policy launched on December 21, 2016 by the Federal Government has lost momentum.
The policy facilitated through the Federal Ministry of Finance sought to encourage people to voluntarily disclose information about fraud, bribery, looted government funds, financial misconduct, government assets and any other form of corruption or theft to relevant anti-graft agencies. It also included a reward for the whistle blower that provide information about financial mismanagement or tips about stolen funds with 2.5 – 5 per cent from the recovered funds.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, after the FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said government had noticed how the whittle blower policy had lost momentum as people were scared to report graft fearing for their safety.
She said to strengthen the fight against corruption, the council approved a new whistle blower draft bill which would protect whistleblowers that provide information for use by government.
“The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning presented a number of memos today. The first is the draft whistleblower bill for 2022. This memo has been reviewed by council and approved with a provision to ensure alignment with the Evidence Act.
“The purpose of operationalising and putting in place a whistleblower bill is to strengthen the fight against corruption and to also enable protection for whistleblowers that provide information for use by government.
“As you know since 2016, the council had approved the setting up of the Presidential Initiative of Continuous Audit (PICA). PICA has been working in partnership with EFCC, ICPC, DSS, NFIU as well as the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“We noticed that the whistleblower policy response has lost momentum. We embarked on engagements in the six geo-political zones and one of the main outcome that we found is that people are concerned about their safety as a result of providing information. So this bill is critical to ensure the effectiveness of the retention of the whistle policy.”
The minister also said the council approved N9.24 billion for the 2022/2023 Group Life Insurance cover for public servants.
Ahmed, who said the memo was presented to council by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, explained that the insurance policy was meant to cover all government officials.
“Council approved the total sum of N9.24 billion for the insurance cover for 2022 to 2023.This is an insurance cover that is covering officials in all government agencies, military and intelligence agencies.
“As you know, the insurance will take effect from the date of payment and in Nigeria, by our laws, the insurance cover is 30 per cent of the annual emolument of any staff of government that is deceased and this cover is paid by the insurance company to the beneficiaries of the deceased staff,” she said.
Council also approved the Finance Bill 2022 designed to support the implementation of the 2023 budget.
Ahmed said the council also approved the memo for the design, construction and supply of nine numbers Ballistic Riverian assault boats, as well as nine numbers patrol boats with all associated accessories in favor of Messers Sewa West African limited in the sum of N689, 722, 681 inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT for the Nigerian customs service.
Minister of State for Budget, Clem Agba, said the council also approved the revised National Social Protection Policy presented by the Minister of Finance and Budget and National Planning.
Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu said council approved the contract for procurement of 20 number transformer tons ratio analyses awarded to Segulu Stembek Global Services Ltd, at the sum of N564,231,854.08 with 7.5 per cent VAT with a completion new period of four months.
He said the transformer tons, ratio analysers were state-of-the-art testing devices for reliable testing and diagnosing of power transformers, noting that the device being used before now was an old device.