EFCC: IS ABDULRASHEED BAWA READY?

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At 40, Abdulrasheed Bawa has age on his side. A career Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) operative with 16 years’ work experience, Bawa is lucky – he knows the EFCC in and out. But for Bawa to truly put the EFCC in a new light, he must do some big things with new ideas from the perspective of an insider.

· If confirmed by the Senate, Bawa should, first explore the multilateral technical cooperation on corruption to develop a mechanism that will help Nigeria have a system that discourages outright stealing of public funds, and develop an anti-corruption war that relies on forensic evidence, well-trained personnel, and free from unnecessary controversies. The EFCC should effectively utilize the provisions of the Act establishing it. For instance, Part III, section 12, subsection 1(c) and subsection (2) which provide for the establishment of a research unit and any committee to assist the commission are good avenues for the EFCC to explore in order to bring the commission at par with expectations of Nigerians and global best practices.

Bawa should take the EFCC to a new level. EFCC as an institution responsible for leading the war against corruption should remodel its strategies for prosecuting accused persons. Situations such as slamming 120-count charges on a person accused of corruption while in public office without being able to establish any of these should be replaced with a fact-based process of prosecution, where the commission gets its solid facts before charging the accused persons to court.

The commission should be driven by a new approach that is multifaceted, multidisciplinary and knowledge-driven; an approach that would assist all institutions of government in re-establishing norms and standards of governance, assist the public, NGOs and even the legislature in monitoring compliance with the standards. The core of the EFCC under Bawa should be centered on restoring social order especially to governance and promoting advocacy and capacity building among genuine whistleblowers.

Corruption is not peculiar to Nigeria, it is a global phenomenon. However, the anti-corruption war in Nigeria is like a gun-war being fought with bows and arrows; it is a war that can turn its fighters into victims and those being fought into heroes; it is a war that both sides manipulate to gain personal and political points; it is a ‘world’ of controversies, politics, extensive debates and high public expectations.

Nigeria’s anti-corruption war should not only be limited to celebrated arrests, the arraignment of the accused in courts of law. The EFCC should serve as the change agent in establishing systematic and systemic approaches that will educate the public on the ills of corruption and the beauty of doing things as they ought to be done.

· Bawa’s nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari is a big challenge to the Nigerian youth. At 40, I pity Bawa, he should also know that public trust is key in his new job. Anti-corruption czars rarely talk in public, but when they do, they carefully choose their words. They cannot wine and dine with corrupt politicians, attend their lavish wedding ceremonies or their extravagant traditional title-taking ceremonies or personal project fundraising ceremonies and yet expect public trust. When one accepts to be the head of an institution like the EFCC, he or she has chosen to be a ‘saint’, and must labour to appear as one. Though as humans we have our weaknesses, the point is that anti-corruption czars can’t preach fasting in the morning and practice gluttony in the night. Being a career EFCC operative with nearly 16 years of work experience including a thorough understanding of the EFCC, Bawa has ‘everything’ on his side.

Zayyad I. Muhammad, Jimeta, Adamawa State