Thursday 27 December 2007

Save Nuhu Ribadu

The thief nabs the victim

There is a saying in Yoruba spoken in South-Western Nigeria and I would try to translate whilst keeping the context. If you are not soon after the thief you stand the risk of becoming the suspect. (Àì tètè m´ólè, olè n mólóko)

This saying brings true in many situations and I first wondered about this when about a month ago in an interview with ex-military President Ibrahim Babangida (IBB), he accused the erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo of entrenching corruption in the body polity of the Nigeria.

In some circles, IBB is noted as the Godfather of Modern Nigerian Corruption; military regimes or governments that fail to gain the audited fair mandate of the people become vehicles of patronage and impunity where all those who have fully imbibed the machinations of sycophancy and nepotism fuelled by corruption gain ascendancy over meritocracy and technocracy. See excerpt from The Military and Politics in Africa – Google Books.

Honourable thieves

These selfsame people who have milked, pilfered, plundered and looted with wanton excess have gained to themselves followings that seek crumbs that fall under their tables – these followers then become the power-base that begins to offer these thieves a form of respectability.

Before long, these thieves use all the leverages of the law or menace to shield themselves from retrospective auditing of their means and justice when pursued by anti-graft agencies.

The presidencies of both men are unravelling with amazing interest but they have also become demigods, almost immune to probes that their hypocrisy is so ingrained they and their followers believe they are now victims of some vendetta – we the wronged by these men whose legacies should read as those who had opportunity to change Nigeria for the better but lead the country to a place far worse than when they took office are now the suspects.

The tough job of the EFCC

There was hope when the EFCC was formed to begin to address corruption issues but the position of the head of that organisation has been an unfortunate political football to be kicked around by anyone who has opportunity to get on the field of play.

Mr. Nuhu Ribadu has a tough job by any standards and as he said a few weeks ago – when you fight corruption, corruption fights back – he has been in the crosshairs of everyone who has felt the agency breathing down their necks – the suspect “crooks” have pulled every kind of lever of influence to undermine, castigate, coerce, threaten, sack or eliminate him without much success.

One critical matter absent in the status of this man is independence – independence of the executive, confident liaison with the judiciary and accountability to the legislature where a committee of eminent legislators can help strengthen the reach and powers of the anti-graft agency.

Eliminate unnecessary hierarchies

Whilst he started as a policeman and has ranking within the police force he should have been retired from the force such that he does not have to answer to that hierarchy in executing his duties, but kept in synchronicity with a pay-grade that befits his status.

The development that he is being asked to take a compulsory one-year study leave by the Inspector-General of Police as a possible prospect for the top job in the police force is too suspect not to warrant more scrutiny because it would definitely turn the heat off the culprits the EFCC has been indicting of recent.

The executive having failed to muzzle him though the banditry of the Attorney General of the Federation has found another route through the police hierarchy, which also reports to the executive to sideline the man and possibly put a pliant figurehead in his place; this person would first have to grow into the job and then begin to exercise his discretion – quite unlikely.

Save Nuhu Ribadu

I would hope that the legislature would intervene in this matter and seek to disconnect this police force influence since the man is doing a worthwhile duty in service of the nation; if he has not yet learnt enough on the job to qualify for the top police job he probably would not after the course – it is a surreptitious means of taking the man into the oblivion of insignificance.

No doubt, the EFCC is a work in progress, not all the instruments are perfect and the work of improvement must continue, in that light, what is most required is an uninterrupted leadership structure buttressed by deputies who see the greater vision of making corruption in high places an anti-social, disgraceful, shameful and serious criminal act worthy of very punitive sanctions.

The dragnet of the EFCC is beginning to catch big fish and it is homing in on the whales, is if not the time to head for the port but the very appropriate time to put more hands on deck and more boats to the pull.

Whilst I am not given to placard activism, one might have penned one saying – Save the EFCC - Save Nuhu Ribadu

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