By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
With the appointment of a youngster, Abdulrasheed Bawa, 40, by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the country’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, many have raised both excitement and concern over the choice.
Apart from those criticising his emergence on the ground that only people from Bawa’s tribe have headed the organisation since its inception, others have pointed out that his choice has flouted the law establishing the commission, which stipulates that the chairman should be a police officer, not below the rank of an assistant commissioner of police.
But these issues pale in the face of the superior fact that Bawa is duly qualified to lead the EFCC given the fact that he is a trained law enforcement officer with a law-enforcement agency. He can also be said to be the right candidate for the job at the moment given the thinking in the Presidency that it is high time the agency was headed by a non-police officer as has been the case since its inception.
Thus, Bawa can be rightly presented as one who has been properly schooled in the art and science of law enforcement, economic and financial crimes investigations and prosecution.
Although Bawa, a native of Kebbi State and a graduate of Economics and International diplomacy, appears as an innocuous school boy with a baby face, he comes into the job with at least 17 years experience, having joined the EFCC in 2004 at the time he was only 23 years old.
From available records, the Kebbi-born officer, has spent his entire career with the EFCC and risen to the pinnacle of the establishment through the instrumentality of hard work, commitment and dedication to a single course of detecting and punishing economic and financial crimes-bank fraud, cybercrimes, official corruption and fraud cases.
Bawa may be young and inexperienced in political intrigues that have plagued many Nigerian leaders and organisations but those who chose him for the tough job might have leveraged on his toughness in pursuing and prosecuting those bent on enriching themselves through economic and financial crimes and impoverishing the nation and its people.
But given the ruthlessness of the ‘godfathers’ of graft who define the national political space, picking and choosing those who should hold sway in certain places and time, can Bawa withstand the forces that are already holding Nigeria on its jugular and selfishly and poignantly looting its treasury with impunity?
With the EFCC designed to fish out and punish without fear or favour anyone who dips their hands into the national treasury but with Bawa’s appointment having to be sanctioned at the highest political level by some of the kingmakers who may be facing some unfinished corruption cases, would he be able to look any culprit no matter how powerful and influential in the face and drag them to court without fearing for his continued stay in office?
Not minding the fanfare that comes with Bawa’s appointment, the job is as tempting as it is promotionally huge. He can use the new post to write his name on the right side of history and can as well flounder his name and everything depending on how he goes about doing the tough job, which has already rubbished many and sent them to the wrong side of history while they are still alive.
Although his choice resonates with those who have been campaigning for more Nigerian youths to be given prominent positions in government, the euphoria can easily be disrupted if Bawa does not deviate significantly from the malady that has often afflicted some of his predecessors and created furore over the management of confiscated assets, selective arrest and trial of suspects and sometimes outright ignoring of those who have blood on their hands because of their proximity to the corridors of powers.
The new EFCC boss, if confirmed by the Senate has an ample opportunity to rewrite the history of the commission by approaching the job with unprecedented ruthlessness and neutrality in dealing with crime suspects and charging them to court promptly so as to send the right message to potential criminals and set a new tone for economic and financial war in the country.
His appointment should not encourage the usual grandstanding and flip flop in economic and financial crime fight, which has encouraged many powerful and influential elements in the land to loot with ease and flaunt the illicit wealth with recklessness. Some even use the proceeds of crimes to fight back the system and promote their stooges into high offices in the land, thereby perpetuating sleaze as a way of life that pays to indulge in.
That’s why Bawa must learn fast, act fast and settle in fast to confront the monster that has eaten deep into our nation’s fabric and dented the image of Nigeria as a catastrophe over the years even with the mantra of ‘fighting corruption’ ringing boisterously across the land.
It is either he wins the fight and etches his name in gold or loses it and burns his fingers in the cauldron called EFCC, no matter the good intentions of his godfathers who pushed him into the job.
The choice to do good to all manners of people without fear, ill-will or affection in the discharge of this thankless job, rests squarely with Bawa!
Welcome on board, Bawa!