Nigerians can now anonymously blow the whistle on corruption using a website called “Report Yourself”.
The online platform allows citizens to enter information, mostly about requests for bribes.
The handlers of the site then reach out to the appropriate authorities to report graft on behalf of those that use their site.
It was launched in July by BudgIT – a local NGO in partnership with the United States Consulate and Religious Leaders Against Corruption.
“We are focusing on micro corruption in a some sort of way like drivers license, the issuers of international passport, issuers of marriage certificate. Those are the places that we think citizens interact more with the government. How could we put more sanity to that space where people put what is right? Also with the Nigerian police who has been notorious, which has been notorious over the years and for being a point for corruption so how do we ensure that citizens can report these issues to us and quietly we can will the system for efficiency,” said BudgIT CEO, Oluseun Onigbinde.
Corruption is rampant in Nigeria.
In April, the financial crimes agency raided an empty apartment in a highbrow Lagos neighbourhood and discovered over 40 million dollars hidden in safes.
The discovery was a result of a whistleblowing initiative that launched in December 2016 entitling those who help find stolen assets to up to five percent of the recovered sums.
It is part of a drive by Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari to root out endemic corruption
Buhari who took office in May 2015, made fighting corruption a key part of his government’s agenda but this is yet to result in high profile convictions.
A number of former government officials have faced criminal charges, which they have denied.
Critics say the current administration’s effort is ineffective and call it a witch hunt against former president Goodluck Jonathan’s supporters.
Nigerians, fatigued by the culture of graft here are hopeful that initiatives like “Report Yourself” can change things but are reluctant celebrate them just yet.
“But you see, big ideas don’t run without machinery right, if the police are this you know, equipped to bring culprits like this to justice through individual reporting media like this, it will be a, it will be very good,” said Dominic Chuma in Lagos.
“To my understanding, the app is good but I don’t think it will work in Nigeria. But eventually if it starts working, I know it will be perfect and I will subscribe to it,” said Ejike Eze.
Seun Akinfolarin was asked to pay a bribe by police after he reported a robbery at his office. He used the “Report Yourself” platform to blow the whistle – something he says he would not have bothered to do in the past.
“I was shocked when they said that I had to pay 20,000 naira(55 U.S. dollars) for me filing the report, I felt very angry so I was happy that I was able to make the report on Report Yourself. And immediately I got feedback from them and eventually, they contacted me, they told me that the police authority has actually told them that it was illegal to have collected money so they are doing their investigation,” he said.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers study last year found corruption could cost Nigeria 37 percent of its gross domestic product by 2030 if it is not tackled.