By: Phrank SHAIBU
O mischief, thou art swift To enter in the thoughts of desperate men! – William Shakespeare
These are indeed perilous times. Indeed, desperate men are in the streets with arms stretched to do evil. These are the days of long knives. And enemies, pretending to be friends are frantically working to pull down the apple carte. The target in this interplay of forces is the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, whose stay in office, many believe has come to an end.
Following the perception that Magu’s tenure may be over, lobby groups have sprung up seeking to get a replacement for the EFCC boss, whose tenure has been acclaimed to be successful. Potential successors have reached out to godfathers. Some have also extended lobby to Western governments in the belief that the position could be swung in their favour.
And no one should ordinarily begrudge anybody intent at aspiring to be the next chairman of the anti-graft agency. Under Magu, the commission’s image and stature have shot up significantly, both locally and internationally. Interagency collaboration, including with the FBI and Interpol, alongside other renowned world anti-crime bodies, has reached its zenith. Above all, President Buhari’s anti-corruption posture has received an unprecedented boost.
It is therefore expected that many people should be interested in the EFCC top job. Neither should it come as a surprise that intrigues, manipulation, propaganda, falsehood and outright mischief will be deployed as tools to clinch the job. And, because we are in Nigeria, it may be appropriate to also add the use of the marabout, juju priests and other diabolical practices in the mix.
Beyond the resort to mysticism and metaphysics, armchair critics, columnists, so-called public affairs analysts and other paid writers have been hired to do two things: pull-down Magu and project the need for a new helmsman. Suddenly, it does not matter what fundamental successes have been achieved, nor the fact that for the first time, Nigeria’s war against corruption is now taken seriously in the comity of nations.
The piece, “Magu – Time To Return To Base”, may be classified as belonging largely to this latter category. Except that Ben Okezie is a respected voice in security circles. It is therefore difficult to conclude that it was written out of ignorance. Neither could we describe the piece as the handiwork of a paid hand and inspired by one of those desperate to be appointed the chairman of EFCC. The innuendoes and mischief in the article speak volumes about the motive for the writeup.
Undoubtedly, the said piece must have been sponsored by someone who may have benefited from Magu’s benevolence. It may well be the handiwork of a fifth columnist. Bottom line is that the author does not mean well in canvassing that the acting chairman of EFCC should return to his “professional” job as a policeman, having “excelled” as a “General” in the war against corruption.
Our dear Ben Okezie argued, albeit naively that considering monumental achievements recorded by the EFCC under Magu’s watch that it was best for him to “leave the stage when the “ovation is loudest” rather than seek a second tenure that may end in ignominy.
Said he: “In spite of these criticisms Magu has continued to be acknowledged. Only a few weeks to the end of his four years term, the Africa Union ( AU) the umbrella body of all African countries honoured the EFCC headman with the Special African Anti-Corruption Crusader award from the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council, (AU-ECOSOCC). About the time of that very honour the Presidential Committee Against Corruption, PACAC with Professor Itse Sagay added its voice in commending Magu for his outstanding performance in tracing and recovering stolen assets.
“As it is, these days ovation has been ringing at the 7th floor of the impressive headquarters of EFCC in Abuja -the edifice Magu helped to actualize its completion. In all of these, there is no doubt that the ovation Magu has been receiving is as a result of noticeable performances of the commission under his leadership”.
Yet, the same person counselled: “Wisdom advises that a leader should step down while the ovation is loudest or at least loud. As a General sent to the corruption war front, it will not be strange if at the point when successes have been actualised the General is recalled back to base. The reason for this is that the base wouldn’t want the General to fall casualty along the line. After fighting corruption war for four years, the government may not be helping Magu if it insists that he must continue to fight on the same war front. “
“Magu having established a solid profile for himself should resist tenure elongation and stand out as one Nigerian who after performing in an assignment stepped aside to prepare himself to take up another assignment. His immediate constituency the Nigeria Police needs his wealth of experience”.
What a puerile argument.
How do you reward excellence with a sack? Could such a piece of advice come from a sincere heart or thought? If Magu’s sterling achievements could be so acknowledged, why would he in another breath canvass for him to return to the police? Only a devious mind could have conjured such evil. Definitely, he does not mean well.
Truth is that the anti-corruption war is far from being won. There are still many hurdles to cross. So, the wise thing to do, if anyone is sincere, should be to advise President Buhari should retain Magu as the EFCC czar. Otherwise, the zest and laurels secured so far may be lost or completely erased.
Undoubtedly, the suggestion that Magu should return to the barracks awaiting redeployment by the police authority is as banal as the mind that dreamt it in the first place. It could not be the best reward for a man that worked assiduously to raise the EFCC to such enviable heights.
But, the truth, which most people are unwilling to face is the question of the expiration of Magu’s tenure. Could it really be said to have expired or expiring? Could a man whose original tenure was never confirmed be said to have served out his term? This is why we argue that our author is driven by mischief.
Nigerians would remember that Magu has been in the saddle only in an acting capacity. Efforts by Buhari to have his appointment confirmed during the 8th National Assembly were not successful, probably because the leadership of the Senate was at daggers drawn with Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
So, if we concede that despite functioning in an acting capacity, he was able to shake off the obvious limitations to perform remarkably, should it not be appropriate to have him confirmed so as to enable him to run the anti-corruption war without hindrances? Should Nigerians and the world not be interested in seeing how he would deliver, having formally been empowered to do the job?
Sadly, when we are desperate or have succumbed to the whims of a cartel, we are unable to reason correctly. Instead, we are driven by desires, propelled by mischief. It’s difficult to divorce this piece in question from these primordial emotions.
*Shaibu, writes from Abuja