I have decided to join the fray concerning the propriety or impropriety of the EFCC’s ‘advisory list’ of politicians conceived to have abused the offices they held. And my reason is that once again, we are faced with a situation where a tiny, weeny minority made up of those who seem to want to benefit from the situation are gaining the upper hand in spreading the propaganda that EFCC erred in law and principle to have published that ‘advisory list’. All the noise these people are peddling around is that rather than just go ahead and publish names of ‘respected’ people in political circles, the EFCC should have compiled these names and invited whomsoever they had investigated to come defend himself or herself. They also say that in doing this the EFCC has overstepped the limits of its brief as a purely investigative arm of government. Perhaps the biggest blunder of it all, in my estimation, is to suggest that those whose names are on that list should go to court and clear their names instead of the Panel set up by the EFCC for that purpose.
First let me state I’m a great admirer of the EFCC and its Chairperson just the way I admire NAFDAC and the woman who runs the outfit. We have stated this elsewhere that these two, with the soludofication of banks, are the only reason why this government can lay any claims to the business of business of unusual transactions and dimensions. And the reason why we hail and love them is that for a long time, there has never been any kind of concerted effort, apart from the Buhari War Against Indiscipline (WAI) made to apply the reins on the culture of corruption that was institutionalized by a prominent Nigerian military president. Otherwise, what the EFCC and NAFDAC stand for today should be a matter that deserves the commendation of all and sundry. That is, there should be no big deal that an organ of government is going all out to sanitize the polity if there was nothing to be sanitized in the first place.
I do not know how many of you have attempted to conduct any form of international business or have made any attempt to travel out of the shores of this country. I have attempted both and the kind of reception that I have gotten from those outside this country has made me come to full realization of the fact that it is indeed an unfortunate thing to be seen as a Nigerian from the eyes of the international community. The other unfortunate thing about this is that those who are giving us this unwholesome image to the international community are just one percent of the entire 140million of the Nigerian population. Of that one percent, only a quarter comprises the yahoo-yahoo boys who are mostly involved in internet fraud because of the unchecked fraudulent practices that are perpetrated from high political positions. Now, the other three-quarter is that made up the kind of people and of politicians whose names appeared on that list.
So what I am saying is this: we do not need an EFCC list to know that almost all the major players in the political arena, particularly the governors, in seven years plus did not give a good record of their governorships. Is it in the East, in the North, in the South or in the West? The story is the same. We do not need an EFCC advisory list to know that nearly all the monies that were earmarked for the construction of roads all ended up in private pockets. We do not need a list of corrupt politicians to know that the reason why this administration could not give us steady power supply for just twenty four hours in a day is that there are politicians in our midst who reap large dividends whenever we are in the dark. We do not need an EFCC list to know that what has been a ‘nascent’ democratic exercise gave room for the Presidency to over reach itself and survive by semi-autocratic methods of governance. Therefore, the significance of that list is that it has ordinarily been used to let us know that there a lot of corrupt politicians on ground seeking to continue with their plunder of the commonwealth and who really are bereft of the sort of ideas that drive an economy. What is intrinsically wrong in publishing the names of politicians who we all know were under-performers and common rogues, mostly if we realize that someone (in this case the EFCC) had the guts to go the extra mile to warn their political parties and us to be way? I don’t accept that something is wrong in doing that. The one thing I know that I have gained from that list is the fact that unlike in 1999 and 2003 where all manner of people with very questionable criteria and Toronto credentials captured our votes, the case is different now. We know there are bad eggs in the basket and if the ultimate aim of that published list is to either flush them out, or warn and educate us on the choices that we have to make, then the list is welcome. At the end of the day, we will be the ones to blame if we don’t think carefully about these people who appear daily on the pages of newspapers and on television asking for our votes.
But of course, there is a regrettable dimension to this. There are certain people whose names are on that list that should not be there and those who should be there that are not there. Those whose names should not be there are those who should go to court and seek redress. The reason I am not comfortable with the going-to-court option is that it is hard to know when exactly the courts will begin to sit and adjudicate when the general elections are just less than thirty days from now. And the way things are now, it would appear that EFCC has swallowed the compromise pill and allowed the President write a certain section of that advisory list. This is the only one aspect of that list we should complain about, and urge Ribadu to come up with another much more comprehensive, authentic advisory list. We also want to use this medium to ask Mr. President to steer clear what Ribadu is doing and desist from spoiling and tarnishing the positive image the EFCC has been able to build over the years.