By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo
We can excuse the police. The police have not had time to join the fight against corruption. Or perhaps they have not had the guile to pretend to be involved. We have seen the DSS. The way they took on the judges you would think that they would have emptied the country of corrupt senior civil servants and compelled a few senior police officers into prudent early retirement.
But it would seem the DSS has gone on anti-corruption holidays. They are perhaps simply keeping up with the Kardashians rather than with economic saboteurs. We have seen the Office of the Attorney General. They have fought the EFCC more than they have fought corrupt politicians. They have seized the big nuts but have neither the willingness nor the capability to chew.
Of course there is the EFCC. They have taken on cases headlong. But they have picked those cases with a good dose of political wisdom. The EFCC blames the judiciary for all its woes. Their opponents say they are clumsy witch-hunters. The DSS says they are incompetent and dubious. The Attorney General says they are insubordinate. The President sees them being bullied and harassed, and sleeps on, unperturbed. Then there is the legion of whistle blowers. They appear seasonally. They may be getting their whistles ready. It’s nearly electioneering season. They’ve to entertain the electorate.
That is the president’s war room against corruption. Riven by ego, hamstrung by selfishness, shackled by vindictiveness, lost in the wilderness of internecine squabbles. Destitute of cohesion, bereft of team spirit, disoriented by the absence of firm purposeful authoritative leadership and direction.
Lest I forget. There is the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption. Members of this committee have cried themselves hoarse. They have often sounded disappointed. But they ought to be angry. They ought to have lost their temper. They should have all resigned. They believe the EFCC has performed fairly creditably.
And I agree. They believe the office of the Attorney General is occupied by a Chameleon. They think that there are other highly placed vultures in this government who are actively sabotaging the anti corruption war. If the EFCC has not been overrun, it is probably because this committee and a few individuals have stood behind it. But how much longer an apparently insouciant president can endure the committee’s petulance remains to be seen.
There is the Vice President. A professor of law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Soft spoken, honest, intelligent, unobtrusive, hardworking. Ordinarily, this government that was hired to restore law and order shouldn’t have a problem organizing a formidable war room against corruption. The combination of the stone will of the president and the legal brain of his vice should have been unstoppable. But it’s been absurd insipidity. The president’s wife can explain it. She believes the government has been hijacked.
The war against corruption has been fought with curious circumspection. The Vice President has grown weary from settling internecine squabbles than marshaling the war. Some insiders agree with the president’s wife. They agree that the Vice President doesn’t belong in the real locus of power.
It is widely speculated that given authoritative powers and a free hand, the Vice President can reform the anti corruption war room. But a beleaguered vice president, beset by the infernal nuisance of riotous jackals and hyenas and the somnolence of his principal, has been left to become a peripatetic preacher of optimism.
Buhari’s anti corruption war room isn’t therefore just a tower of babel. It is that synagogue where people come in wearing long white Pharisaical robes, not to worship, but to nurse their selfishness and greed, and to trade malice and blackmail. In the tower of babel, they didn’t understand each other. They innocently worked at cross purposes. In that synagogue filled with money changers, the purpose of the synagogue was subverted by greed. They deliberately usurped and defiled the synagogue. They impoverished their souls to fatten their pockets.
How else can anyone explain the travesty called Abdulrasheed Maina?
In a tower of babel many people would have tumbled over themselves to grab Maina. But in that commercial synagogue, Maina would be a potential lucrative commercial prospect. So those who got him first would shield him from the prying eyes and greed of others until they made profit.
After Maina, there is now Umar. And Danladi Umar is interesting. Umar is supposed to be a commander in the Buhari’s anti-corruption war room. But he has a history with the EFCC. No one is guilty until convicted, so Umar remained Chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal , the dark clouds of criminal suspicions notwithstanding. The Senate President was picked for prosecution in Umar’s tribunal. He questioned the cleanliness of Umar’s hands and heart.
The EFCC told the public that it had searched and found Umar cleaner than a whistle. Prosecutors often cooperate with soiled hands to secure elusive convictions. But this was a tribunal chairman. The EFCC ought to have come a little cleaner on Umar. The drama has no end. Umar concluded Saraki’s trial and came to an acquittal decision the EFCC rejected. The case went to an appellate court. Umar’s decisions were upturned on some counts. The case was sent back to Umar. The EFCC pounced on Umar.
The EFCC said it had reviewed Umar and found that his hands were actually soiled. Criminal charges were filed against Umar. A microscopic review of the filed charges didn’t show anything not known in 2013 . So why the baffling somersault? But you would think that the war room would back the EFCC and it’s desperation to land corruption a punch, albeit below the belt.
The office of the Attorney General moved in swiftly. It gave the EFCC chairman two days to explain the UMAR embarrassment. The Attorney General obviously isn’t dealing with any arbitrariness but some perceived insubordination. What is his motive? You can guess. The cat fight it seems is being enjoyed by the old man.
Maina has subsided. Malabu has taken its place. The Attorney General cannot understand the president sometimes. The president sacked Maina whom he advised reinstated. He has asked the president to let Malabu rest in the interest of national prosperity but the president has treated him and his opinion with contempt. The presidential advisory committee on corruption must be seething. But they must make their position on the Attorney General louder and clearer. Perhaps, someday, the president would hear them.
Who would have imagined that Buhari , the Field Marshall of the war against Indiscipline would return and not match other African countries in the determination to contain corruption? Transparency International data don’t lie. Nigeria has slipped behind others.
The war room needs urgent sanitation.