That corruption had remained the bane of development of Nigeria, taunted as being the Giant of Africa is as indubitable a fact as saying good morning is the greeting for the morning period of the day. By its sheer population size as the most populous country in Africa nay, the black world, Nigeria qualifies to be the giant of Africa. But of more import in the assumption of this pseudonym is the massive endowment of natural resources in oil, gas and minerals that God graciously embedded in the bowels of the country in addition to the abundant intelligent and talented human resources that had remained pearls of inestimable value across all facets of human endeavour.
It is quite disheartening that despite these abundant potentials in the country, corruption which had eaten deep into the body-fabric of the country had prevented the harnessing of these potentials by the abundant competent and capable human resource reservoir of the country into the dream prosperity which the founding fathers of Modern Nigeria had envisaged when they engaged the colonial Masters in pursuing the acquisition of Independence from them.
While Tafawa Balewa, the Golden Voice of Africa, so nicknamed because of his fluency in language, was the head of government, Dr Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe was the president and ceremonial head of state.
There was apparent distrust in their working relationship arising from their being from different political parties, is religions and regions, a situation that had not been helped by their regional loyalties which constituted a fertile ground for unbridled indiscipline to creep into a divided military and the political class as a whole. This in turn provided a solid foundation on which corruption thrived, leading to what the military claimed necessitated their intervention on January15 ,1966.Successive administrations, be they military or civilian, had fingered corruption as the single most formidable stumbling block to the country’s quest for development, a situation that had perpetually locked up the inherent potentials. Such administrations had vowed commitment to the dismantling of this monster to pave the way for the proper harnessing of these potentials for the overall well being of the people and their economy.
However, as much as this avowal was pronounced, so it always remained, as successive administrations lacked the will to match word with action. Rather than fade, corruption enjoyed a leap forward and gained more national prominence and even international recognition.
It was not until 2005 that the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo made what appeared a bold attempt to give the monster a frontal battle with the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, with Nuhu Ribadu as pioneer chairman. After Ribadu came Mzamber Farida Waziri, the only female to have headed the anti-graft agency so far and then came Ibrahim Magu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police whose tenure, though recorded what openly appeared huge successes in the fight against corruption was mired in deep controversy leading to his suspension and probe by a presidential panel headed by the respected retired eminent jurist , Justice Ayo Salami. Salami’s recommendations may not have been favourable to Magu whose confirmation as substantive chairman of the EFCC had been stood down by the Senate on different occasions that the president had sent the request to the Senate.
The recent request by President Muhammadu Buhari for the Senate to confirm the appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa, aged 40,who holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Master of Science in International Diplomacy, a pioneer cadet recruited by the EFCC on establishment, as the substantive chairman of the EFCC had put paid to the fate of Ibrahim Magu.
Given the much controversy that surrounded Magu in the execution of the mandate of his office, when eventually the youthful Bawa is given the nod to head the EFCC, the well trained investigator would bring his training and wealth of experience garnered over the years, to bear on this all-important task of salvaging the country from the shackles of corruption and building a stronger nation.
One thing Bawa must recognize going forward is that he is the cynosure of all eyes as the representative of the teeming youths of the country. He has no alternative to doing his job fearlessly and in so doing, avoid the pitfalls that littered the path of Ibrahim Magu.