Editor's note: Eleazar Dokubo, a public affairs commentator and MSc student at the University of Southeastern Norway, writes on the need for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to be retained in office and consolidates on his achievements in the last four years.
Nigeria is on a threshold in the war against corruption and of central import to this national crusade is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and whether the person who heads the anti-corruption agency at this critical time should be retained in office or not.
Corruption fight, primed as one of the key manifesto tripods on which the President Muhammadu Buhari administration swept into power in 2015, alongside security and the economy. However, the common belief by most analyst was that the fight against corruption was arguably going to pose the most intriguing challenge of all, given the fact that the country had achieved international notoriety with the unenviable identity as one of the most corrupt nation's in the global corruption ratings. Four years, after that prediction on corruption by opinion leaders is still accurate as the fight against corruption even with President Buhari's unrelenting efforts still has a long way to travel.
Specifically, astonishing narratives of mind-boggling corruption allegations had surfaced at the beginning of the Buhari administration which made previous efforts of the anti-corruption agency look like the work of amatures, despite the very outstanding milestones and strategic achievements recorded by the previous leaderships of the EFCC.
For emphasis, since its creation in 2003 by the President Obasanjo administration, the leadership of the anti corruption agency from Nuhu Ribadu, through Ibrahim Lamorde and Farida Waziri to Ibrahim Magu, has attracted more than its fair share of attention, especially from politicians, who it seemed had always been quite interested in who is at the helm of affairs in the EFCC.
To further make the guess complicated on the leadership of the EFCC, the emergence of President Buhari introduced very complex variables, especially against the backdrop of his solid zero tolerance for corruption personality, as well as his famed integrity and uprightness. However, these traits of Buhari equally imposed on him, the weighty burden of finding the right man to drive the fight against corruption with a commitment and determination that would match his zeal and passion to combat the scourge.
To put the situation of corruption in Nigeria in clear perspective, it is important to note that the global image of Nigeria was so bad that in 2012 for example, Nigeria was estimated to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since independence and in 2018 the country ranked 144th in the 180 countries listed in Transparency International's Corruption Index with Somalia, at 180th, being the most corrupt.
For any forward looking nation, the statistics and rating of Nigeria on corruption should be a major issue of concern. According to the United Nations, "Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes."
Furthermore, "Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the "start-up costs" required because of corruption."
Indeed, only few objective analysts would doubt if the above scenario does not appropriately capture the state of the Nigerian nation, which in itself demands that the leadership of the nation's anti-corruption agency must be firm, brave and possessing the right amount of enforcement authority in the perception of Nigerian.
It was therefore not a surprise that CP Ibrahim Magu was appointed as the acting chairman of the EFCC in November 2015 given his sterling track record of accomplishments in various positions he had held within the EFCC.
Four years of Magu's appointment, has made his anti-corruption tentacles to spread far and wide, capturing some high brow personalities across the various sectors of society and achieving monumental recoveries of stolen funds both at home and abroad. Specifically, the one critical success of the Maiduguri-born tough cop era is that the entire perception of corruption and attitude of those who either have been neck deep in its cesspool and were nursing wild ambitions of diving fully into it and enjoying the unlimited proceeds of their nefarious cunnuingness has altered dramatically and without prior warning.
Indeed, there's s no gainsaying the obvious fact that in Magu's tenure as acting EFCC chairman, the mere thought of engaging in corruption has sent cold shivers down the spine of people who hitherto aided, abetted and sustained corruption in every sector and at all levels. From the judiciary to the civil service, from top elected politicians, political office holders to key players in the corporate, business and oil and gas sector, military, academic intitutions to the murky world of drug dealers and cyber crimes, the Nigerian society has felt and trembled under what has now been referred to as the Magu effect and the mere mention of the EFCC even in minor office altercations, business arguments or suspicious transactions, has generated the kind of impact, which on its own, has done more to check corrupt intentions in the last four years than ever before.
The recognition accorded Magu by the Africa Union (AU), the umbrella body of all African countries as the Special African Anti-Corruption Crusader award winner from the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council, (AU-ECOSOCC), have been highlighted copiously in numerous write ups and commentaries celebrating the agency.
There's an African proverb that says that if an animal decides to run with deft and swift cunning in order to evade being shot, the hunter will devise extraordinary shooting skills and strategies to gun it down without remorse or finesse, in the bush. This apt analogy succinctly captures the no love lost battle between Magu the hunter and the corrupt persons he has vowed to track down and bring to justice in the war against corruption.
It is against this backdrop that one should appraise and interprete the recent calls from some quarters for Ibrahim Magu to return to his primary calling, the police and let someone new be appointed to head EFCC, now that his term at the helm of affairs for the mandatory tenure of four years, has been exhausted. These calls, for the avoidance of doubt, can only mean one thing; corruption is fighting back.
Ironically, the logic behind the calls for Magu to return to the police have been couched in some quite attractive arguments, which at face value appears eloquent, but at a deeper level, clearly reveals the desperation and cunning deceitfulness which defines the dubious intent to get Magu out of EFCC. at all cost and by every means necessary.
There's no doubt whatsoever that those asking for the redeployment of Magu are not only this administration's worst enemies but they act out of self greed and ignore the interest of the majority. The resources at the disposal of these folks, especially those outside the shores of the country are enormous, unquantifiable and of course, have been amassed from the proceeds of brazen corruption.
The systems they have infiltrated and corruptly structured to continue to deliver proceeds against the interest of the people and the detriment of the nation, have been breached by the robust, fearless and uncompromising strategies of the Ibrahim Magu led EFCC and lest we forget, the man has actually been operating in an acting capacity in the last four years and the real twist in the matter is that he has outlasted and out lived the Senator Bukola Saraki led Senate, which ensured that he would not and indeed was not be confirmed as substantive head of the anti corruption agency whenever he was forwarded for screening. The present leadership of the Senate this time around, is a completely different kettle of fish altogether.
The trust and confidence Ibrahim Magu has enjoyed from President Buhari in the last four years have manifested in the far reaching measures, strategies and operational latitude that have defined the EFCC as an anti corruption agency with the mettle to take on corruption frontally. The fact that Magu has been acting in these last four years and has achieved the kind of success with the EFCC that has received wide spread commendation from home and abroad, should actually strengthen President Buhari's resolve to submit his name once again for confirmation as the substantive chairman of EFCC.
Every responsible leadership goes to war with its best and long serving Generals and it is a truism, especially in Nigeria, that good Generals never retire. Ibrahim Magu has grown in stature and experience to become an outstanding anti-corruption General and as President Buhari finally settles down in his second term, following the final judgment of the Supreme Court to endorse his presidential mandate, the fact remains that there's still a lot of ground to be covered, a lot of loot to be recovered and indeed a lot of existing and dangerously emerging corruption kingpins and outlets to be uncovered, smoked out and neutralized.
The importance of Ibrahim Magu's fearsome presence and unshakable authority as the leading general in the war against corruption, instead of the suggested redeployment to the police, will not only reassure the international community of Nigeria's seriousness as a trusted partner in response to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), which had hitherto named Nigeria as one of 23 non-cooperative countries in the international community's efforts to fight money laundering, but it will send strong and unambiguous signals to the indigenous corruption community, that there is no more a secure hiding place at home or a safe haven abroad once the EFCC identifies your case.
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