Anti-Corruption Is Never A One-Man Show

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Corruption Always Fights Back

In Nigeria, Corruption is more than a cankerworm. It is systemic malady destroying the present and future hopes of the country. According to a report in 2012, over ,$400Billion has been lost to corruption since independence. This is a tragic testimonial to how corruption has become the bane of our retarded development, suffocating pauperisation of the majority of our people and, gaping infrastructural deficits. The harrowing PAINS of this ailment is the realisation that if these looted funds were to be invested in the National Economy or, warehoused, invested in the Local Economy, the nation would be in competitive league with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the Asian Tiger nations.

Yet, some social, unpatriotic miscreants believe that any challenge to the suzerainty of corruption is an exercise in futility. They always gloat that corruption is a global scourge. They conveniently into the ocean the fact that in saner climes and more advanced civilisations, efforts are always geared towards ebbing the tidal waves of corruption because of its fatal consequences on the social fabrics.

Recently, a band of political activists’ Flotsam, Jesters and Jobbers – not usually more than a hundred, have made it their hobbies to organise protest matches in Lagos and Abuja demanding that President Muhammad Buhari should sack the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa. Forty Anti – Corruption, Civil Society Organisations led by Centre for Anti Corruption and Open Leadership equally called a Press Conference seek the removal of Bawa. It is rather ludicrous because most of these bodies are faceless, unregistered platforms, and, when known to extant laws of the Federation, never comply with the requirements of their registration. Ask them to produce the constitutionally mandated certified copies of their audited, annual financial accounts, they will be looking like ” Our Mumu Never Do !”. More importantly, is the EFCC a one- man agency with Bawa as an ” Uncommanded Commander ? Why not ask for dissolution of EFCC and other Anti Corruption Agencies to put your Paymasters and cohorts in charge ? Hypothetically, if Bawa is removed today, would the next in line abandon on- going investigations of corruption Crimes. If this is the intent of this Campaigns, it died before arrival.

Without mincing words, these rent-a-crowd Jobbers instead of ploughing the fields for anti – corruption crusade are either inadvertently or Consciously digging its grave, while serving the pecuniary interest of their Paymasters ! It is instructive to note that from information available in the public domain, it is very clear to discerning minds that the #SackBawa Campaign sprouted because of the anti graft agency investigations of Politically Exposed Persons. The Spokesperson of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujarem castigated the campaigners for lack of patriotic, altruistic interest in the first against corruption, insisting that ” the group found its voice after EFCC launched an investigation into the mindless, Looting of the treasury of one of the States “.

The main culprit of Wilson allegation is Governor Yaya Bello of Kogi State, who hurriedly approached a Kogi State High Court on 24th February to procure a restraining order when the EFCC commenced an investigation into the brazen Looting of public funds under his watch. As the Yoruba people would admonish , always stand with the truth for whatever the case may pan out, ” all shall die “.. I challenge all these campaigners that their primary funder is the Governor of Kogi State whose properties and account were confiscated by EFCC. As we pen, the wife of the Governor and nephew have been found guilty of corruptly enriching their pockets with looted funds belonging to the good people of Kogi State! There are other so-called Politically Exposed Persons serving as hooded drummers for this pro Corruption Campaign against EFCC as well as for Visa ban and removal of its Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa.

Corruption, fighting back has long history in our emergence as a nation. Endemic corruption has its roots planted deep by the British colonial overlordship largely through political patronages and entitlements to prop up decadent, degenerate elites in the public services, business as well as manoeuvre of political leaderships. This was compounded by long interregnum of military , absolute , unitary regimes. The post independence, nationalist leadership of the country follow suite with Sustenance of corruption stains on their togas. In 1944, Azikwe was enmeshed in sharp practice involving the African Continental Bank ; Adegoke Adelabu was removed as the Deputy Premiere of Western Region on corruption charges ; the feud between Awolowo and Akintola have issues bordering on question of public funds diverted for partisan patronages ; the Northern Region had entrenched corruption system with the Feudal, Indirect Rule colonial administration. Curiosity, the first Anti Corruption law in the country, ” Customary Presents Order ” was issued by the Native Authority in Borno. It was to stop public officials from unscrupulous solicitation of gifts. In all the points of twists and turns of seeding and germination of corruption, men of good conscience wage wars against it, but Corruption Always Fight Back.

Noted tracks of corruption in our firmament as a nation include ; under Gowon, cases of importation of cement saga, fire incidents in the Ministry of Defence, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN following enquiries into allegations of sharp practice ; Muritala despite good intentions, the sacking of corrupt, civil servants and promulgation of the Land Use Decree brought along its own variants of corruption; Shagari incendiary fire of the Federal Government Building, Asian Rice Import Licences scandal, deployment of Johnson Mathey Bank of London as conduits for syphoning public funds ; Buhari – Idiagbon – Vanished 53 suite cases, Currency Exchange Palaver; Babangida institutionalised Corruption, perverted patronages, $12.4Billion Gulf oil windfall disappeared; Abacha looted funds in foreign accounts are still being recovered; Obasanjo initiated Anti Corruption Agencies ( ACAs) like EFCC, ICPC, yet, he had to sack some of his lieutenants, Hassan Akwanga, Tafa Balogun on corruption related charges; Jonathan had the Stella Odua Corruption debacle. Other notorious cases are Halliburton, KBR, Siemens bribery scandals. In all these cases, Corruption Always retreat in breadth to come out in depth. This is why the war against Corruption must be owned by the People. Only a collective efforts of the majority can contain if not defeat Corruption.

The hues and fake cries Against EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa is following a well known script for Corruption Fight Back. This is particularly worrisome when the Campaigns are spearheaded by notorious corrupt elements in pseudo civil society organisations, National Association of Nigeria Students, NANS and, even Olusegun Obasanjo ! The general refrain is to accuse Anti Corruption Agencies ( ACAs ) of media prosecution of cases, witch hunting , disobedience of Jankara market purchased , jaundiced court judgements as well as attempts to eliminate whizle blowers.

This Abdulrasheed Bawa led EFCC in 2021 secured 2,220 convictions; in 2022, it secured 3,328 convictions, forfeiture of N775Million, landed properties linked to government officials, 40 Assets belonging to former Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu in Nigeria, United States of America, London and, Dubai. These elements and ilks under radar of Bawa cannot fold their arms, they will carry arms against the Commission.

Rather than throwing away the baby with the bath water by clamouring for disruption of Anti Corruption processes with the sack of its pointsman, Bawa, genuine Anti Corruption crusaders should link hands, elbows and efforts. Initiatives such as the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparent Initiatives ( NEITI ), Open Government Partnership ( OGP ), National Anti Corruption Strategy ( NACS ) document should be strengthened by Civic Affirmative Engagements.

A maxim goes that in a place where tradition is lacking, a striking example becomes imperative. During Buhari- Idiagbon military military administration, War Against Indiscipline, WAI Brigade was floated. This mass based, Anti Corruption Corps should be reinvented. Time to stop all shenanigan, masturbatory, self serving, diversionary #SackBawa Campaigns . it will only hurt Anti Corruption crusade, the nation and people.

Olawale-Saint Jherico
Former Secretary
Trade Union Congress , TUC
Lagos State Counci

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