The adage that says “if wishes were horse, beggars would ride” is as real today as it has always been. But then, this has not stopped humans from wishing one thing or the other for themselves and others. It is part of our freewill as grafted into creation by the Almighty God. President Muhammadu Buhari, no doubt, occupies a position of envy in Nigeria, especially among the political class. The country has been bedeviled by myriad of challenges since he assumed office in 2015. Even though he was voted to power due mainly to his promise to stamp out corruption in our society, evidence on ground now clearly show that his war against corruption can at best be described as an effort in futility. His anchor man as far as the war is concerned and the czar at EFCC is under arrest for corruption. In other word, the hunter has become the hunted. This is a dent on the image of this regime.
In other climes, if a leader faces serious leadership crisis that seem insurmountable, he resigns for someone else with fresh ideas to take over. I don’t expect Buhari to resign because of Magu’s conduct at EFCC. He should not. After all, this is Nigeria.
However, one can wishfully suggest a few things to Buhari concerning the future of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the strategies to overcome corruption in Nigeria.
To begin with, let key positions in the anti-graft agency be advertised in the mass media for interested persons to apply. As part of the selection process for these vacant seats, the names of the people considered qualified will be published in newspapers and aired on national television stations in case there are some of them with questionable characters. In which case, members of the public with such privileged information can protest through complaints to the appropriate quarters.
Proper legislations must be put in place to ensure that prospective occupants of major offices in the organization swear to an oath of office before resumption. Their conditions of service will be spelt out in their appointment letters such that any deviation can result intoloss of the job at any time. This may not be in line with the conventional civil service appointments. Rather, it should reflect the importance attached to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
High level of integrity, reliability, previous performance without blemish and relevant academic knowledge and experience must be considered. Beyond these, applicants must not only be technologically sound, they must be found to be trainable in the arts of using modern gadgets to combat crimes. It is not time for bogus academic qualifications and designer wears as uniforms.
According to Elon Musk, “… you can have a bachelor’s degree and still be an idiot”. This applies to many other considerations like tribalism, nepotism, friendship, politics and non engagement of experts in the selection of candidates for appointments into sensitive positions.
There are many occupants of exalted positions in Nigeria who are not ICT-compliant. This is not acceptable in today’s leadership styles. As a matter of fact, it is better to take on a computer educated person and train him or her on security methods than to recruit a uniformed man with intention to train him on the use of computers. Many of us are adamant to changes.
In one of the sermons he delivered, Pastor Korede Komaya of the Master’s Place International Church Warri, gave an insight into how two Nigerian girls gained admission to study sociology in universities. One was in Nigeria while the other went to England. After few months of studies, these ladies discussed on phone wherein the fellow in Nigeria seemed to be ahead, given the volume of lectures she had received. Worried, the one in England complained to her professor. On seeing the content of the Nigerian Sociology lecture series, the professor discovered that what the student at home had as note were part of Sociology courses in their higher schools in 1970s. We must upgrade! Why must we restrict ourselves to certain categories of persons irrespective of the kind of skill they posses.
Professor Wole Soyinka, a university lecturer and poet was the pioneer head of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC). His performance was superlative. Professor Charles Soludo was the first and only Nigerian so far to be the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without previous work experience in any bank. He did well. Until Chief Raymond Dokpesi, a Marine Engineer veered into Television and radio broadcast business, Nigerians did not know that the business can raise millionaires and still maintain its entertainment and information dissemination mandate. He revolutionized the industry and placed the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) on its toes. The list is endless.
Ibrahim Magu may not have done well as the acting Chairman of EFCC, but the truth of the matter is that he functioned with the usual mundane way of doing things in Nigeria without adding value to what Obasanjo had in mind when he established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Instead, he turned the institution into a terrorist political enclave with little or nothing to show for Buhari’s determination to stamp out corruption in the country.
As soon as Adams Oshiomhole became the Chairman of APC, he told Nigerians that the sins of any one accused of corruption will be forgiven if he or she joins the party. No member of the ruling party challenged the former governor of Edo state on that statement with a view to putting the records straight. Not even Magu himself or the president saw the damaging import of that statement. Instead, we actually began to see many prominent people, including Senator Godswill Akpabio, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu and many others actually joining the ruling party.
Surprisingly, Kalu’s sentence to jail for money laundry was upturned by the Supreme Court. This was not because the former governor did not commit the offence for which he was convicted, but because the judge who passed the judgment against him was already promoted to Supreme Court judge as at the time he passed the verdict. Until his arrest and detention, Magu never made any attempt to re-arraign the Abia State-born politician for proper re-trial.
If I were President Muhammadu Buhari, these are the things I would have liked to consider as the Nigerian anti-graft agency faces reorganization to reposition it for greater performance ahead of 2023 when this tenure is expected to terminate. This is a wish and remains so until it earns the fancy of our head of government.