The Sun News


A revealing encounter with Nigerians who don’t know the meanings of “whistleblower” and “whistle blowing,” and ones who presume to know

Shocking: They include students of institutions of higher learning

From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi, and Bianca Iboma, Lagos

In recent times, there has been a lot of hue and cry about “whistle-blowing” and “whistleblowers.” It is in view of this that our correspondents went to town to get the responses of people on what they understand as the grammatical meanings of the words.

Asked what he knows about the two words, James Agbeyan, a vulcaniser looked into space for a moment before telling our correspondent point blank that he had never heard the words before.

“I have never heard anything called ‘whistle-blowing’ or ‘whistleblower’ before,” he confessed. “So, I don’t know what they mean. I only know that as a young boy growing up, my parents used to buy us whistle for fun.”

Dominic Haanya, a civil servant with Benue State government noted that he only started hearing about the words recently especially during the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I didn’t know anything about the words whistle-blowing until recently,” he said. “I hear people use the word to connote something that has to do with money laundering.” He explained that the current misconception that a ‘whistle-blower’ must possess a whistle is wrong. “A whistle blower doesn’t need a whistle to blow. All he needs is concrete information and evidence that somebody has laundered money.”

Security guard and recharge card seller’s views

When asked what he knew about the two words, Jonah Iorundu, a security guard who sounded very surprised at the question said although he had been hearing people use the words lately, he hadn’t cared to know what they really mean.

“Yes, I have heard the words being used before now,” he admitted. “In fact, I have heard people say they need whistle to blow or that the cost of whistle is becoming high in the market but I haven’t taken time to ask them what they really mean by that.”

Mfon Obot, a recharge card seller laughed very hard when asked what he knew about the two words before confessing that although he had heard people use them both on the radio and TV, he had not really bothered to find out their meanings from the dictionary.

Schoolteacher and students’ definitions

A schoolteacher at Lagos State Senior Secondary School, Tajudeen Oladipupo sees whistle blowing as opening up a secret while an educationist/Guidance and Counselling officer, Dr. Celine Njoku, describes it as the act of exposing societal ills and, whistleblower, as the one who does that. 

Justina Akwukwaegbu said the first time she heard about the words was when her English teacher made reference to them while treating the topic, “Idiomatic expressions” and gave some illustrations expressing on how the words could be used to report on people doing something illegal.

Promise Ibekwe and Emmanuel David, pupils of Kinderville Private School, Morogbo, Lagos, described whistle blowing as “the act of blowing a whistle by a referee whenever any player runs foul of the game” while their schoolmate, Adama Eze, knows it as “the whistle that is blown to show the end of a game.”

Adetomiwa Ayeni, student of Ebuoluwa Secondary School, Tedi Village, Oriade Local Government Area, Lagos, describes whistleblower as “the referee who usually blow the whistle at the beginning of a game and waits to do so at the end of it.”

Marvellous Ugeh of Gladiators High School, located off Agric Bus Stop, on the Lagos – Badagry Expressway, knows it as “a private detective hired to expose some wrong doings in government.”

Tertiary students’ understandings

Adakole Ode, a student reading Building Technology at Fidei Polytechnics, Gboko, shocked our correspondent when he said he had not heard the words being used in Nigerian in recent times. He however tried to guess the meanings when he said it signifies a call for help in times of danger. “Once a whistle is blown, it signifies that someone is in need of help,” he insisted.

Sewuese Saakuma a young graduate of Mass Communication from the Benue State University added a little clarification when she said that a whistleblower is someone who raises alarm on anything while whistle blowing is an act of raising an alarm, to attract attention.

Ene Ikwuobe, a graduate of Zenith University, Ghana, who is awaiting her call to national youths service said she first heard about the words in 200 level in 2013 in the lecture room adding that although the meanings were explained to her then she later looked them up in a dictionary to have a better understanding. “We did a presentation then,” she recalled. “The lecture was basically about human resource.”

She remembered a funny cartoon she saw in the social media where a man heard that his neighbour who blew a whistle on a particular person was rewarded with a huge sum of money. “This man immediately went to the market and bought a big whistle and started blowing it on everybody around and was wondering why he too was not being rewarded like his lucky neighbour.”

“I’ve heard the words being used on Instagram, Facebook, and so on,” she further confessed. “Comedians use them a lot. So many people don’t know the meaning. They think it has to do with blowing a physical whistle.”

Joseph Ani, an undergraduate student of Gateway Polytechnic, Igbesa, Ogun State who described whistle blowing as settling grudges said the first time he learnt about the meaning of whistleblower was in primary school when a classmate who just bought a new whistle brought it to class and blew it so loud that the whole class started laughing when the teacher asked who did that. Thereafter, he was named Jako the whistleblower after the teacher called the boy “whistleblower.”

Driver and bus-conductors’ angle

Ejiro Obaro a bus-conductor who said he does not know the grammatical meanings of the words confessed that he had heard passengers talk about them many times inside the bus “and dem say just by blowing whistle you fit get ‘plenty money.’ Dem talk say whistle blower na ya time to chop.’

A bus driver who identified himself as Rasheed Adigun looked initially warm and welcoming. Until he was asked the big questions! He curtly replied, adding a ludicrous angle to his answer: “Abeg make you go ask people wey go school. Me I no know book. I no know wetin dem dey blow, whistle abi na whistleblower? As you see me so na my daily bread I dey find.”


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