WHY WE INTRODUCED WHISTLE-BLOWER INITIATIVE – LAGOS GOVT
The Lagos State Government has explained that its decision to introduce the whistle-blower initiative was informed by the need to ensure good corporate governance and encourage transparency in the operations of the state’s ministries, departments, and agencies.
The state’s Commissioner for Finance, Dr Rabiu Olowo stated this at the launch of the initiative in Lagos over the weekend.
Honorable Olowo noted that a substantial part of the state’s internally generated revenues was being lost to unethical practices and fraud, due to the fact that there were no avenues or platforms, designed to protect the identities of those who might want to speak up on such malpractices, without any fear of a backlash.
He explained that the platform, which would be managed by Deloitte and Touche, offers absolute protection to any informant; since such information, he added, would be treated with topmost confidentiality.
“The idea behind this initiative is for people to see something and say something. A lot of government revenues are being lost, daily, because people are afraid to speak. In the workplace, people observe wrongdoings but are left with few or no avenues to speak up. They fear being victimized.
“But with this Whistle-Blower platform, confidentiality is key. Any individual, both in the state’s employment or outside, can be assured of a platform that would promptly address their complaint, without revealing their identities,” he stated.
Olowo explained that the decision to start with the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), was informed by the huge role the agency plays as the revenue collector of the state, adding that the state government intends to extend the initiative to other agencies, later.
Speaking on the mechanism of the platform, Partner, Deloitte, and Touche, Mr. Beulah Adeoye stated that the essence of the easy-to-use platform was to prevent fraud.
“The world is moving towards transparency, but there is the need to protect whistle-blowers, whose role we believe is key if we are to achieve transparency; hence this platform.”
According to him, the platform which could be accessed via different communication channels, such as voice calls, e-mails, and others, had been simplified to accommodate the literate, the barely literate, and the illiterate.
“It is an independent platform, managed by Deloitte, and which is available 24 hours a day.”
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Chairman, LIRS, Mr. Ayodele Subair, described the launch of the Deloitte Tip-Off Anonymous initiative for LIRS as in tandem with LIRS’ continuous strive and drove to ensure that its responsibility to the state is carried out efficiently.
He noted that the launch demonstrated the commitment of the agency and the state government to ensuring high ethical standards in all its business processes, asides from seeking to enlighten and sensitize the tax-paying public.
“LIRS as a reputable Agency operates under strict guidelines or code of ethics which prescribes the standard of conduct expected within the Agency and during its interaction with various stakeholders.
“It is against the backdrop of the Agency’s unflinching commitment to upholding the highest standards of transparency, integrity, and accountability in its dealings and interactions with relevant stakeholders that the Lagos State Government (LASG) with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has an oversight function, has subscribed to the Deloitte Anonymous and Confidential Whistle-Blowing Facility.”
The LIRS boss expressed the firm belief that the facility would promote an enabling climate for employees and other relevant stakeholders to report wrongdoings, illegal actions or financial crimes noticed and or observed in LIRS administrative and operational activities, without fear of backlash.