By Olufemi Adegbenro
On Monday, when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) addressed the world, reeling out what it considered as achievements, the commission left only one feeling: A desperate agency, whose boss is trying to impress the incoming government in order to retain his job.
Yes, the EFCC chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, was appointed by the Goodluck Jonathan government, with the mandate to fight corruption. Many years have passed, with nothing tangible happening, in the assignment given to the EFCC. But just four days to the end of the Jonathan administration and the assumption of office of General Muhammadu Buhari, the EFCC is trying so hard to prove that it has been working. And the commission is passing the buck and praising the incoming government, thinking, perhaps, that this could earn Lamorde an extension of tenure.
Hear the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren: “We are happy that the incoming government is making the fight against corruption one of its cardinal objectives. Every Nigerian is happy about that. EFCC has been doing this for more than 11 years. We are proud of what the incoming administration wants to do.
"We need an administration that would look at what we are doing and empower us sufficiently to enable us make more impact than we have ever done in the past. We welcome the focus and we believe Nigeria needs to tackle this fight more rigorously for us to make the needed impact."
Well said, but I am not impressed. The EFCC is saying, indirectly, that the Jonathan government was not serious about the fight against corruption or the administration is not focused or both.
Perhaps! However, is the EFCC serious about the assignment given it ? Methinks that the EFCC is not serious. In the last six years, the Federal Government run by Jonathan has been accused of corruption, but the EFCC has looked the other way. For instance, there has been the talks about missing money at the Nigerian National Petroleum, Corporation (NNPC), whether it’s $20 billion, $30 billion or $15 billion, as exposed by former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who is now the Emir of Kano. Ever since the allegation, the EFCC has not done anything. Where the House of Representatives made effort to investigate the allegation, the EFCC kept mum. Today, the controversy still rages, despite the forensic audit report on the NNPC commissioned by the Jonathan government.
Also, there has been controversy about waivers granted by the Jonathan government, which bothers on corruption. EFCC has not looked at this. What also has the EFCC done about the scam that is oil subsidy? Now, the country is suffering fuel crisis, amid claims and counter-claims about money the Federal Government is owing oil marketers. If the Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is saying that the federal Government is owing about N130 billion and the oil marketers are saying that it’s N200 billion, doesn’t his show that there is something amiss about the oil subsidy? In the midst of this, the EFCC has not done anything. While Nigerians believe that the amount involved in subsidy is less than what the Federal Government is declaring, the EFCC has not deemed it fit to probe into it.
The question that Lamorde should answer is this: Since your assumption of office, how many serving governors have you investigated? How many are you going to charge to court after May 29? I ask this question because we are living witnesses to the fact that the EFCC, in the past, investigated governors while they were in office and waited for the completion of their term of office to prosecute them. Today, the EFCC has not done that. All the cases that it listed on Monday as being prosecuted are the ones done under the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu era, whose investigation were, in any case, not thoroughly done.
Lamorde should hide his face in shame because he has failed in his assignment and should not, therefore, try to tarnish the image of some past governors, who the EFCC claims are still being prosecuted, in order to score cheap point. Therefore, the EFCC press conference, where the commission claimed to have recorded success, is belated. It is coming too late to convince anybody that Lamorde and his boys are doing anything. It is really a shame that the EFCC boss, who has been at the commission for many years, first as director of operations, before becoming chairman, has not made much impact as EFCC under him is not doing anything while the pillaging of the treasury at the federal level goes on.
Lamorde should, therefore, find another way of lobbying Buhari, for the extension of his tenure. Coming now to start presenting the cases of former governors cannot change the impression Nigerians have of the EFCC: that it’s a toothless bulldog, which did nothing under the Jonathan government.
(Adegbenro wrote from Ibadan, Oyo State.)