Concerned stakeholders in the anti-corruption campaign have been wondering whether the hitherto dreaded, active and respected EFCC is still in existence, particularly in the last four years that high-level corruption has reportedly become a way of life in both private and public businesses in Nigeria.
While many have been tempted to believe or attribute the present EFCC’s obvious failure to the Goodluck Jonathan’s government “stance” on anti-corruption, the fundamental reasons why the EFCC has failed woefully in its mandate – particularly in the last four years – is beyond the popular beliefs and perceptions. Unfortunately, they are easily bought into by a gullible public which is deprived of adequate knowledge on what the EFCC particularly, or indeed any other serious government agency for that matter needs to work or succeed.
The EFCC established in 2003, had Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, AIG (retd.) as its pioneer chairman. It is on record that Ribadu did not have “adequate” resources when he started the agency in one private room. There was no single computer, no official vehicle and with less than twenty personnel, on a monthly allowance of less than fifty thousand naira. Yet he brought the agency into an enviable fame, glorious height and international repute within a short period of four years. Through rare courage, patriotism and determination to succeed, Nuhu, for the first time in Nigeria, brought leaders and celebrated Fraud stars that were hitherto seen to be above the law, under the law. Within a period of four years, he attempted building a lasting and formidable 21st century law enforcement agency with a clear vision and mandate, and also established the EFCC Academy. He indeed had his shortcomings but under his leadership, the EFCC recorded a resounding success.
It is also on record, that Nuhu Ribadu’s successor, Madam Farida Waziri, AIG (retd.) gave the agency her best with more zeal and vigour to raise the bar and even outshine her predecessor. Madam Farida Waziri built heavily on the foundation and legacies of Nuhu Ribadu by not only expanding the existing structures, her record of high profile cases and convictions (Chiefs Bode George, Lucky Igbinedion, etc) but also created new records in diverse areas such as staff motivation. Chief among these were, life insurance cover for all operatives in case of loss of life while on duty, salary increment, a mortgage housing scheme, staff canteens, prompt payment of allowances and incentives, etc. She fought for a befitting EFCC head office which is currently under construction and created one additional zonal office (North East zone), modernized the EFCC Academy and, above all, brought fairness to all staff who were hitherto discriminated against in terms of appointments, postings, training, promotions, transfers, etc.
Madam Farida like Nuhu Ribadu, displayed uncommon courage, patriotism, professionalism and determination to succeed when she also engaged the then “almighty” Attorney General of the Federal and Minister of Justice ( Michael Aondoakaa) in a fierce battle to preserve the independence of the EFCC in pursuing its statutory mandate without any external interference. In her persuasion to preserve integrity and professionalism in the Agency,
Madam Farida Waziri also commenced the gradual withdrawal of seconded corrupt police officers, most of whom added no value to the Commission. They actually saw the EFCC as a cash cow, and therefore allegedly bribed their way into the agency. Madam Farida saw through the corruption and emptiness in them and why they did not deserve to be in a specialized law enforcement agency like the EFCC, as they were lacking skills for contemporary financial crimes investigation.
It was amazing when she exposed this hornets’ nest, that most of the seconded police men in the EFCC were usually either IG’s boys or from the traffic section and other police departments that are not related to EFCC operations. It was alarming and very worrisome to discover that the majority of the senior police officers seconded to the agency were those with political connections. These were relatives, former orderlies and ADC’s to retired politicians with the primary duty of protecting their benefactors. Madam Farida Waziri displayed rare integrity and created a new record as the only EFCC chairman to have investigated a director within the agency for corrupt and criminal offences. This is not to say that Madam Farida does not also have her shortcomings but certainly, the EFCC recorded relative success under her leadership.
In view of the above, it becomes clearer that the relative SUCCESS or FAILURE of the EFCC, like any other institution, is largely dependent on the kind of leadership it has at any point in time. It is true that Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, a serving Commissioner of Police and present head of the EFCC was fortunately the foremost Operations Director of the Agency as a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) then. He was Director of Operations to both Nuhu Ribadu and Farida Waziri at different times, which ought to ordinarily equip him with better experience, capacity, and sensitivity, renewed and higher zeal for accomplishment. But unfortunately, EFCC under Ibrahim Lamorde’s leadership has performed in a less than salutary manner. This accounts for why Nigerians are yet to see any tangible result on the popular cases such as oil subsidy, police pension scams, NNPC missing funds, Oduahgate car scam, etc.
On the other hand, the soft infrastructures such as statutory policies on career profession, emoluments, appointment, promotions, trainings, transfers, secondment, and award discipline e.t.c have reportedly been largely eroded and politicized under the present EFCC leadership. Soft infrastructures are allegedly administered on tribal, ethnic and religious grounds leading to bickering and disharmony among staff. While a handful are overtrained, perpetually appointed into special committees and allowed to remain in one location perpetually without transfer, others are either undertrained, not trained at all or transferred round the six zonal offices within a space of four years due to their disagreement with the present leadership style.
Unlike the process that threw up the present leadership of the agency, successive administrations must ensure proper vetting of all aspiring or nominated future heads of the agency with a view to understanding their level of capacity, independence, courage, integrity and self contentment.
The incoming government must properly institutionalize the agency to sustain its major agenda of anti-corruption and development through granting political and financial autonomy to the agency. By political autonomy, the hiring and firing of the EFCC head should be done by Mr. President through the National Assembly as in the case of the INEC Chairman and the EFCC funding should be on the first line charge.
In appointing a future head of the agency, government may also look inward to also consider the EFCC pioneer cadet officers who have come of equivalent rank as recommended by the establishment act. They should be considered. The idea of always looking for a police officer to lead the agency even when there are core detectives of the commission who are better motivated, highly experienced, trained and better qualified, may no longer be tenable.