By Segun Asunle
EVEN the Bible is unmistaken about it. Should the foundation be faulty, the house- obviously cannot stand. For genuine observers of events at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), whatever is playing out now, especially as it concerns its leadership was long in coming.
Appointment of Mrs. Farida Waziri as chairman of the commission came with as much reservations. The manner EFCCâ€™s former Czar, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, exited has further complicated her case.
Since Waziri stepped in as EFCC Chairman, the Commission has ceased to live up to expectations. She carries on as one who is being guided by the instructions of certain â€œbenefactorsâ€ and as such, could not act in accordance with the dictates of her â€œgenuine conscienceâ€.
Or better still, what has so far played out is a reflection of her genuine conscience. This naturally affected the operations of the Commission and reduced its rating to zero. Put differently, the recent arrest and arraignment of some bank chiefs which can literally be termed the discovery of the new CBN governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, EFCC on its own lacks the initiative to come up with any such discovery and follow up to a logical conclusion.
In fact, the Commission was at some point, quick to shifting its apparent inefficiency to the meddlesomeness of former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Michael Aondoaaka. It is true that Aondoaaka could be high-handed in some of the operations of EFCC; he was not the sole determinant of what goes on in the organisation as EFCC was directly under the whims of Waziri.
On the argument of the EFCC that about 10 former state governors were facing corruption charges, Clinton said â€œnone of the cases had moved forward by yearâ€™s endâ€, making reference to the dismissed 170 counts of illegal activity against former Delta State governor, James Ibori, by a judge. She said although the judge ordered a retrial, Ibori remained free.
Clinton also noted that Ribaduâ€™s removal as EFCC chairman contributed to the tainted perception of Federal Governmentâ€™s seriousness to fight corruption. â€œThe EFCCâ€™s inability to bring a number of corruption investigations to closure, the 2008 replacement of its internationally respected chairman; and the 2008 transfer of many of its senior personnel raised questions about the governmentâ€™s commitment to fighting corruption. During the year the EFCC was accused of using its authority to harass citizens who objected to government policies.â€
This is why the news of the shake-up in the Commission came with mixed feelings. While on the one hand, it is an indication that the Federal Government is not completely oblivious of the goings-on in the Commission, steps so far taken have not also shown that government is genuinely ready to tackle the menace from its root.
Although, the move has been attributed to indicate something different, the true story is everywhere. The move was not unconnected with allegations of corruption levelled against the EFCC leadership under her chairman, Waziri and which is making the rounds. This is why government must leverage on the development and revamp the EFCC. This has become imperative in the light of reputation that the organisation commands and should therefore not become the scorn of anyone, particularly on the international scene.
Like Clinton had noted, one recalls that under Ribadu, EFCC was a major factor in this country and held as much respect. It was also feared by politicians and business men alike in the country. The Commission was dreaded. Corruption rating of the country dropped and every Nigerian had reason to sit up. But all that is gone as EFCC no longer moves anyone; people now discuss the Commission and dismiss it with a wave of the hand.
Borrowing the lines of Patriotic Front Alliance, an organisation that has been in the vanguard of this for some time now, the problem with the EFCC is simply leadership. Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, however, has the sole responsibility to brace up to this challenge. He is in charge now and whether or not he likes it, whatever goes on now would be recorded for or against his name.
EFCC, no doubt, requires complete overhauling and the time to do that is now.
Mr. Asunle, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja.