Friday, March 28, 2008

In February this year, I wrote RIP EFCC. In it, I asserted that with the removal of its 'former' chair, Ribadu, the release of Ibori from jail and other significant issues, the EFCC "should probably be written off as a has-been." After months of staying out of the news, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is back in the news with a big bang. Current events, however, are forcing me to review my thoughts on the Commission and the future of Nigeria's anti-corruption crusade. At issue is the EFCC's investigation of Grange and the questionable activities at the Ministry of Health. There is also a recent revelation that was made by the EFCC that might cause many to believe that the EFCC, under its acting chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, is 'back in true form'. But, I wonder if it is time for me to gather palm fronds and wave them in the streets on account of this EFCC 'revival'.

The EFCC is investigating allegations that the Minister of Health, Adenike Grange, and 14 other senior officials ignored an order to return unused monies from the Ministry of Health's 2007 budget. A whistleblower informed the EFCC that these officials planned to misappropriate the funds of approximately N300 million by divvying it up as a 'Christmas bonus'. After a few weeks of being investigated, Grange tendered her resignation to President Yar'Adua and stepped down from her position. She soon announced that her resignation was not an admission of guilt but rather an attempt to eliminate any fears of interference in the EFCC's investigation of herself and the Ministry.

But, news of the EFCC's 'revival' gets even better. Well, that might depend on who you are and where your interests in Nigeria lie. After numerous revelations of corruption and fraud during the ongoing probe into the country's power sector, the Commission has finally set its sights on former president Olusegun Obasanjo. If you are considering sending me hate mail and accussing me of being anti-Obasanjo, save yourself the wasted effort. Let me be clear - I am anti-nobody. I am, however, pro-Nigerian and support any actions and idealogy that will produce a positive outcome for the country and the psychology of its people. As a consequence, I understand that an investigation into the damaging information revealed during the probe is absolutely necessary regardless of if it involves OBJ or not. The reasons for this are endless but of paramount importance is the need to ensure that anyone that ever tries to partake in corruption will think twice and realize that the consequences will be dire.

And therein lies the question. Considering the recent 'revival' of the EFCC and the anti-corruption crusade, should I admit that I 'misspoke' (to borrow a term from Hillary Clinton and her Bosnia-trip flap)? Well, I believe it is too early to assume that any investigation of OBJ's administration will result in charges or even punishment. If there is one thing I have learned about politics, it is that the complexities of Nigeria make anything possible. As a result, I highly doubt that 'Baba' himself will face punishment (i.e. jail time) for corruption. Furthermore, the EFCC is having a hard time even determining whether it will actually investigate him. This is evidenced by the fact that although its Head of general investigation announced that the Commission has started investigating OBJ, the Commission's spokesman recently told reporters otherwise. Besides, I would never underestimate OBJ. He is, after all, the same man who remains undaunted and attends national events despite recent public allegations of unspeakable behavior against him were made by his own son. OBJ will use every resource to prevent any investigation against him. This is not to suggest that he should not be investigated, but only to counsel that I will wait for a little more activity from the EFCC to prove to me that it's anti-corruption crusade is one that I can have full confidence in. Therefore, I sincerely wish the EFCC the best of luck and hope for the best as it attempts to achieve its mandate.

Yardy came to power touting the "rule of law" message. Prior to becoming President, he was known as a no-nonsense governor who did not entertain corruption. Upon becoming President, many, myself included, questioned his ability to be independent of OBJ, who picked him to be the successor. That being said, I must commend Yar'Adua for encouraging an atmosphere in Nigeria where many are beginning to realize that corruption has negative consequences. He has been President for less than a year and in that time, we have seen Ettehgate, Iborigate, the disqualification of various officials by Election Tribunals and the arrest of the Godfather Adedibu.

Nonetheless, I cannot help but caution that Yar'Adua's first 4 years must not simply be about highlighting the failures of the OBJ years. While this atmosphere of zero-tolerance for corruption is exactly what the nation needs, it is not the only thing that Nigeria needs. Thus, I, and all Nigerians, are hoping for progress not just in the push against corruption, but in health care, education, power, agriculture and infrastructure. There have been some moves in the right direction, and we must continue to strive for stellar achievement.

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11 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Jinta said...

i wait and see. grange & co are easy meat i wont be convinced until they collar the likes of ibori, alams, etc. obj, i tell you, is too big for them - they cany even get his daughter, iyabo

Obinwanne said...

I seriously dont like the way efcc is conduting its practices, but i just didnt wanna make any post yet or conclude too early, until the house of rep calls obj and then bring out all the fact and then see what efcc will do....i have my ears on the ground

Anonymous said...

Its kinda funny what one can do wif so much connections. First we saw a picture if Iyabo and a white man while signing the power deal, we had to wait till she embezzled in another ministry. See what Yaradua feels here:

Sugabelly said...

EFCC Renaissance: Oh my goodness... PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, I beg you, write a post about the Kogi Election. I would have done it myself, but I can't due to .... romantic reasons.

I am anxiously waiting your (hopefully appropriately scathing) post.

TheAfroBeat said...

"Well, I believe it is too early to assume that any investigation of OBJ's administration will result in charges or even punishment."

I concur. I also believe the likes of obj (ibori & co. - i.e. the big dogs) will never pay for their crimes against nigeria...but hey that's just a jaded soul speaking.

Either way, I've got my palm fonds in waiting so let me know when we're taking to the streets to welcome the EFCC back.

Anonymous said...

I think this is the usual circus. It is all for show, so that people think that somebody is trying to fight corruption. Just wait and see what comes out of all this frenzied activity. Zilch. Mark my words.

Seriously guys I have given up on politics in Africa. These days I happily spend my time online on chat sites and gossip sites that whisper sweet nothings into my ears and keep me sane. You will even find me at silly sites like Udaku Daily reading about silly funny domestic incidences.


Florida of Free Spirit said...

my dear, wen u live in nigeria u don't jump 2 jubilate too soon. na siddon dey look we dey. all this probe no dey ever change d price of crayfish n d market. am still running on generator at home, so wetin

Doja said...

I am hopeful that EFCC will do what it was set up to do, so far it has failed woefully, but there is still time for change.

Waffarian said...

Let me be honest. I have no clue. I have no idea how that organisation works....It is all too confusing for my brain...they "accuse" people...then nothing happens...then they "accuse" more people....I have no idea how their evidence ties in with the court system, etc....okay, make i go their website, maybe i'll get some information...

Controversial said...

What revival? Stick to your guns, the EFCC is a charade. In fact, that anti corruption crusade you write so pationately about should be retermed anti corruption charade. Feel free to use that one. It is ridiculous the things people can and do get away with in Nigeria.

I also want to read your thoughts about the recent Kogi election and results. The PDP pulled out all the stops for that one, don't you think?

Tolantino said...

Very well said. There is too much embezzlement going on in Nigeria. We definitely need a president that has zero tolerance for such nonsense at the same time develop other aspects which makes daily life difficult for Nigerians .e.g Bad roads, non existent health sector and do i need to mention the power sector?

But having said this, all these changes will not happen overnight so I guess a good place to start is clamp down on corruption which is hindering progress. What I really need to see also is a clamp down on overzealous police men and all these different agencies in lagos who wear like 10 different uniform and try to do other agencies duties. And don’t even get me started on them demanding bribes.. I wish they can have an agency like EFCC or something solely dedicated to eradicating this

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