Magu: Nigeria’s Next Anti-Corruption President


Nduka Uzuakpundu

His name is fast gaining currency at the United Nations headquarters in New York, United States of America, amongst some diplomats in Canada, the European Union (EU) headquarters, in Brussels, the United States Department of State, in Washington, D.C. And it’s for good reason: his rare show of industry and devotion to duty, as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); that top policeman, Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, is being considered to address a General Assembly of the United Nations, on what strategic approach he had applied to expose so much gargantuan corruption that took place under President Goodluck Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.

Indeed, there’s an ambitious lobby involving a dozen countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to invite Magu to Brussels for the same mission. The lobby, headed by a key member of the Department of State, in Washington, D.C., have it that what had endeared Magu to policy-makers in NATO-EU countries was the fact that he had done more than his sires at the EFCC.

“We are immeasurably impressed by the performance of Mr. Ibrahim Magu – the head of the Nigerian anti-graft agency. We’re pleased that he has improved upon the feats of Mr. Nuhu Ribadu”, said Disberg McRailley – a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist. “He’s a good choice by President Muhammadu Buhari. We’d like to see him here; encourage President Muhammadu Buhari to bring in more Magus into the Nigerian anti-graft crusade. With Magu in charge at the EFCC, Nigeria is sure to put corruption behind her as a matter of necessity”.

But, whenever Magu arrives New York to address the United Nation General Assembly (UNGASS), some of the points he’d make are that the Buhari administration is striving, assiduously, to build strong democratic institutions – including the Nigeria Police Force, EFCC, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Judiciary, Legislature, Executive, labour organisations, and an army of peaceful voters. He’s expected to say that two years into the Buhari administration, it’s becoming quite imperative to have Legislatures and Executives that have little quarters for corruption; that the Legislature should cease, henceforward, to be a haven for crooks; individuals who should be executed publicity. Some of his listeners would, naturally, include a posse of members of the Ways and Means, and Appropriation Committees of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate, Harvard – and Princeton-trained psychologists, and dour-looking cops, who are working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

McRailley is on record to have told a group of North American diplomats and anti-graft specialists – all based in New York – that “for Magu’s unearthing of so much gargantuan corruption, it may interest the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to groom him for the Nigerian presidency in a post-Buhari era. The intent, as McRailley told a former public affairs aide at the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, was “to enforce the concept of sustainability of the war against corruption – the Buhari style, which has, as its leitmotifs, non-compromise and zero tolerance”. McRailley, 76, is visibly delighted that the Buhari-Magu, anti-graft duo is gradually setting a standard for the Africa continent – especially for the genuinely democratic countries that, given the political will, they could fight corruption to a standstill.

One of the most crucial issues involved, he said, was to have an EFCC headed by an unsmiling, serious-minded policeman like Magu; someone who’s versed in gathering intelligence that has to do with money-laundering and unconscionable looting of the country’s till. A close ally of the Carter administration, in the late ’70s, McRailley, said that the Buhari-Magu duo should be applauded by Washington and Brussels, in that the APC government was about the first sign of seriousness, by Abuja, in the fight against corruption.

Still, he said that, “for the avoidance of doubt, my suggestion for a post-Buhari era Magu presidency, is to press the continuity of the war against a crime by a tiny – if viciously oppressive – minority, that is bent on killing the Nigerian economy. It would be extremely costly not to make Magu – solely for the continuity of the war against corruption – the next President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. He told this writer that for Magu’s exploits, so far, Washington and Brussels would, in the months ahead, pump in more anti-graft resources into the EFCC; about $3.9billion to recruit and train more hands, employ seasoned lawyers, launch nation-wide, anti-graft campaigns in schools and markets, organise anti-graft workshops, conferences and capacity-building programmes for members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigerian financial institutions, members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Judiciary, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Nigeria Prisons Service, Immigration, State and Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), key officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Independent Petroleum Marketers, members of State Houses of Assembly, Governors, members of the National Assembly, university lecturers and administrators, members of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), operatives the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), skippers of print and broadcast media, captains of the organised private sector (OPS), royal fathers, members of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Pentecostal Federation of Nigeria (PFN) – two bodies that deserve to be banned for encouraging corruption, etc.

“The Magu phenomenon”, said McRailley, “offers the Nigerian government an ample opportunity to lay a new foundation for the rejuvenation of the Nigerian democratic experiment. Magu’s feat calls for a new national re-orientation”. He told this writer that the Magu exploit was about the first time that Nigeria was following the dictates of the Lagos Doctrine on Democracy of the Carter years – to which he was a contributor – and by which she was expected to practice good governance and anti-graft for the substantiality of multi-party democracy.

It was the failure of the Shagari administration, McRailley recalled, to follow the letter and spirit of the Lagos Doctrine on Democracy that led to the fall of the Second Republic. As he rightly observed, the Magu anti-graft exploit was about the first time – in nearly two decades of the Fourth Republic – that Nigeria, as a state-party to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, was winning international support. He agrees with ex-Police Commissioner, Chief Frank Odita, that Magu is a rare gem; that, like the gold medalist – in Long Jump – at the Olympic Games, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., in 1996 – policewoman, Chioma Ajunwa – “Magu is one of the many brains and honest operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, who have rendered clean, honest service to the brightening of the country’s image in the congress of nations.”

It has taken Magu’s rare, anti-graft exploit for the Obama administration to declare Washington’s readiness to assist the Buhari administration in repatriating Nigeria’s funds stashed away in foreign banks – by corrupt officials. For Magu’s rare exploit, the Swiss government has queued behind Washington.

He was of the view that the Buhari administration shouldn’t be tempted to promote Magu to the position of the Inspector-General of Police. If anything, the security around him should be beefed up, because, said he: “Corruption – all the criminals, who have stolen public funds, after whom Magu’s EFCC is – is fighting, desperately, back. It regrets its failure to fell Buhari, some years back, in a car bomb explosion. It calculates that if it succeeds, anytime, hence, in slaying Buhari and Magu – a latter-day ’Tunde Idiagbon – Nigerians would see the development as refreshingly tidy. The Judiciary has been overtaken – somewhat arrogantly – by ravenous maggots. It’s now a den of Magistrates and Judges, who should be purged, because they all have the Shakespearean itching palm.

The Judiciary is peopled by a shameless tribe that demands a gargantuan sop to deliver faulty judgements – in a clear perversion of justice. But Magu is firm, for which he has made an army of enemies, who can go to any extreme to silence him. Buhari should not allow this, because the future of Nigeria’s democracy – it’s now pretty obvious – leans, quite burdensomely, on having Magu as the next Buhari – with a mission to uproot corruption”. To do otherwise, under such senseless and retrogressive policy as Zoning or Federal Character, would, inevitably, cause the rifle to come calling – at the price of the disintegration of the Nigerian federation.

“The Magu rare, anti-graft exploit has confirmed the long-held belief that Nigeria does not need foreign aid. She’s rich enough”, McRailley told this writer, late in May, “to cater for her teeming population: pay workers’ salary, promptly; pay pensioners what’s due them, each month, promptly; have well-equipped primary, secondary and tertiary institutions; good roads, regular power and potable water supply, well-funded and equipped health centres. Magus rare, anti-graft exploit underscores the fact that given good governance and purposive leadership, Nigeria should not experience brain drain.”

Still, whenever Magu surfaces in Brussels to address the European Parliament – possibly before the expiration of 2017 – with nearly N8 trillion in stolen public funds recovered, as a part of the success, so far, achieved by the Buhari administration, and some of the politicians involved in the crime sent to jail – he’d have amongst those invited to the dignified occasion anti-graft strategists, intelligence specialists from the International Police Organisation (Interpol), diplomats, selected journalists, and entrepreneurs.

Then, it’s almost certain that Magu would face tough questions from his auditors – some of whom, for informed curiosity, followed Buhari wherever he went during his recent anti-graft trip to Europe. A veteran lobbyist, based in Brussels – Mrs. Milliscent O’Neil-Crawford, who heads the North Atlantic Good Governance Network (NAGGN), said that she’d want to find out from Magu why Abuja had refused to publish the names of all those who had, in a rare show of magnanimity, returned some of the public money they had stolen – under the gracious cover of inky darkness, though; how much they actually stole and how much the Buhari administration had spent from the recovered funds, and on what projects; what assuring measures the Buhari administration had rigged to the prevention of gargantuan graft in the MDAs.

It would be interesting to find out from Magu, she told this writer, in her hotel room, on Victoria Island, Lagos, in mid-June, “how many of such corrupt elements were women? Is it just former Petroleum Minister – the bundle of beauty called Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke?” One of the restless, influential lobbyists calling on Brussels to impose crippling sanctions against corrupt leaders and violators of human rights in The Gambia, Africa Great Lakes region, and the Horn of Africa, O’Neil-Crawford, 77, said that Magu’s feat was an explanation for the rise of Boko Haram in the North-East geo-political zone, and the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) militants.

In appreciation of Magu’s anti-graft exploits, O’Neil-Crawford told me, on June 14 – when, at about 10.47p.m., she got a call from McRailley, in Washington D.C. – that she’d nod when Magu tells the European Parliament that it’s thanks to corruption that a crushing majority of state governments could not pay the salary of their workers; when Magu ascribes to corruption the abysmal power supply in the country; when he points at corruption as a good reason for the poor shape of most of the country’s roads, hospitals and government-owned schools. She’d nod, further, when Magu chides corruption for the vandalisation of oil pipelines, ballooning unemployment amongst products of tertiary institutions, falling value of the Naira, bank robbery, arson, election-related violence and, amongst others, kidnapping.

When Magu says that the banks are rotten, because a group of managing directors in the first generation banks have refused, somewhat arrogantly, since 2003, to pay back some of the loans they took elsewhere in the sector, O’Neil-Crawford would nod. She’d do same, when Magu focuses on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Nigerian Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Nigerian Deposit and Insurance Corporation (NDIC). When Magu advises Buhari, State Governors and law-makers that there’s a pressing need to sanitise and pare down the size of government, O’Neil-Crawford told this writer that she’d applaud cheerfully.

She would be happy to hear Magu say that he’s committed to the Buhari administration’s war against corruption, because he’s desirous of the longevity and sustainability of democracy in Nigeria; that he wanted to avoid a Shagari-like situation that would kill the Fourth Republic: a development that, given Nigeria’s influence in African politics, he feared, might have a continent-wide ripple effect. O’Neil-Crawford told this writer that she’d nod, just in case Magu proposed to the Buhari administration that Sambo Dasuki and all those who shared in the $2.1 billion meant for the purchase of arms by the Nigerian military were declared, openly, as traitors; Judases, whose hands are stained with the blood of the innocent – slain by Boko Haram terrorists.

The Fourth Republic, she observed, was at its nadir under the Jonathan administration – amidst unbridled corruption, Boko Haram terrorist attacks, destruction of oil pipelines, environmental pollution in the Niger Delta and an inexplicably weak political economy. “If the military had struck then”, O’Neil-Crawford argued, “not many would have protested.” She told a former crime reporter with a Lagos-based newspaper – The Guardian – that: “If Jonathan is any guide, Nigerians should never vote for any presidential candidate, who is of a minority ethnic extraction. The Nigerian democratic experiment is a serious affair. It’s well beyond the sentiment of ethnicity and retrogressive policy of Federal Character.

Had the military called in protest against the rottenness of the Jonathan administration, Nigeria would have had to wait for about three decades before she’d have another shot at multi-party democracy. And, it’s very likely that, within the bumptious and unsettlingly cloudy distance, things – a la Achebe – would have fallen, hopelessly, apart – and, so, the eclipse of Nigeria as a federation – from whose ruin, an inexorable rise of a truly independent and viable Republic of Biafra – and many others.”

At the end of her ten-day, fact-finding visit, O’Neil-Crawford promised to return to Nigeria to see Magu, know the town where he was born, and his lecturers at the University of Maiduguri. She said, besides, that she would seek an audience with Buhari to offer that what she called “National Institute for Leadership, Good Governance and Anti-Corruption”, be established – in honour of Magu. That’s in addition to what she had told McRailley, on the line to Washington, D.C., that she’d make a strong case that Magu be made an Ambassador Plenipotentiary of the United Nations – in recognition of his anti-graft feat.