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Column No.6: Dear Mr Bawa, while we wait for May 29…

When I saw the headline that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has concluded plans to go after some outgoing governors and other public…

When I saw the headline that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has concluded plans to go after some outgoing governors and other public officials after May 29, I was indeed happy. I mean, who wouldn’t be? We are currently in a Nigeria rife with as much corruption as we have been suffering in the past couple of decades, or even worse depending on who you are conversing with. I must admit, also, that I was quite happy at the then-new appointment of Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa as the anti-corruption organisation’s boss. Young, smart, dedicated, and with a squeaky-clean record: He checked all the boxes. Fast-forward to today, and honestly, I don’t feel we have recorded as much progress as we should or could have.

In less than two months, it will be two years since Mr Bawa was first nominated for the EFCC’s chairmanship. I for one wish there will be significant updates on the myriad of court cases involving politically-exposed persons. According to reports from the media interaction during which he made the May 29 ‘declaration’, he declined to give the names or the number of public officials that will face the law come that most August date. Of course, governors are among public officials that enjoy immunity and therefore cannot be arrested or tried while in office, making it a no-brainer that some of the people he is referencing are state governors.

Mr Bawa also revealed that at least two federal ministries are currently under the radar of the commission for fraudulent activities bordering on procurement processes. While all this is going on, I’m reminding myself that it is the same EFCC boss who is the subject of agitations of some civil society organisations calling for his sack. Of course he waved them all away, citing a resolve to not be intimidated. He is after all the first sitting EFCC chairman to go to court and testify, repeatedly too. He also declared that some of those groups were paid. “We know the people that are paying them, coming up with all sorts of gang-ups,” he said. And my response to that is ‘please reveal them!’ Bring the light to this darkness that is covering our land.

Now, I’m guilty of wanting the EFCC’s progress to be more dramatically visible. Don’t blame me: remember I’m a Nigerian, and we are currently suffering a torrent of problems brought upon us by the political class and those appointed by them to run government. Nothing seems to work, and the few things that seem to work are dogged by man-made problems, apparently designed to make Nigerians suffer. Like, for example, is there a single Nigerian who isn’t dying for some sort of reckoning regarding the new naira notes scandal we have been suffering from for a while now? All these are just a few reasons why I have a request for Mr. Bawa, while we mark time for that auspicious day to come when he and the EFCC will go after those elements that need to face the law.

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My request is very simple: Go after those that you can go after now, in a most public way, too. This is because in an environment like ours, the fight against corruption needs to be visible for a variety of reasons, key among them the need for intending thieves to know there will be a reckoning, and for them to also know the extent and weight of said reckoning. Yes, the EFCC is known for following due process and the rule of law, but who says you can’t give Nigerians what they want? And what we want right now is not unreasonable, and it is simply for us to see just how much work is being done. When he began his tenure, I wrote a piece wishing him a successful tenure, then stating that his victory is one for all of us Nigerians, and I also wished him zero drama by way of his predecessors. My wishes (more like prayers, really) still stand today, and always will.

In closing, I think it is necessary to underscore the fact that Mr Bawa’s chairmanship is an impactful one, no matter how one looks at it. I also am aware of the fact that he is a hard worker, as well as a tough nut to crack who has resisted influence from day one. So, at the risk of sounding like a cracked record, he should share more with the public. He recently said the anti-graft agency only lost 41 cases since he took over while 3,785 convictions had been secured. Can we have details made public, please? And for those people who are not leaving in May, he said: ‘Whenever they are leaving, we will be waiting for them to ensure that justice is done’. From your mouth to God’s ears, Mr Chairman.

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