By Igwebuike Nwokoroigwe

Of all the promises made by
candidate Muhammadu Buhari on
the road to the 2015 presidential
election, none resonated with
people more than his commitment
to fight corruption in the
country. And this was quite
rightly so for some reasons.
First, corruption, to borrow Prof.
Itsay Sagay’s words, “has
assumed epidemic proportion” in
the country. Before now, there
were some sectors of our
national life where issues and
reports of corruption were only
whispered in hush-hush tones.
Unfortunately today, corruption
is at best ubiquitous in our
national life. Policemen and
women no longer hide their
bribe-money in the bushes, but
even boldly offer change to
motorists; motor licensing
offices have become huge
markets for touts and the
official receipts never tally with
the amount charged by VIO
staff; bankers not only steal
from their customers but now
allegedly sell accounts
information to kidnappers and
fraudsters; university teachers
now unashamedly ask their
students for money to write long
essays for them to graduate;
and even Supreme Court judges
now “visit” politicians on flimsy
invitations, as we were recently
told. How sad!
The second reason why President
Buhari’s promise to fight
corruption easily resonated with
people was because he had done
it in the past as military head of
state. The old General more than
any other Nigerian leader has
managed to maintain his
reputation as not only
incorruptible but also ever ready
to lead the line in the fight of
what has clearly become
Nigeria’s greatest enemy. In
fact, during the campaigns, he
clearly stated that “corruption
will kill Nigeria if we do not kill
corruption.” How apt that
statement has become given
revelations and allegations of the
unbelievable magnitude of looting
that has taken place in the
national economy in the past 16
years of democracy, that is, if
we leave out the heist supervised
by the military regimes.
It must be admitted now that
there is a growing doubt in the
ability of Buhari to take on
corruption headlong as a civilian
President. This thinking is not
unconnected to the fact that the
President is aging. Naturally,
human beings tend to become
less strict and more open to
letting certain things pass as old
age draws nigh. What is more,
politicking involves all manner of
alliances, especially with strange
bedfellows. As a matter of fact,
the worst fears about the Buhari
presidency is the belief in some
quarters that the old stern and
uncompromising no-nonsense
Buhari may have been highly
edited by the vagaries of
partisan politics, especially the
quest for power. Purveyors of
this view argue that a lot of
water may have passed under
the Buhari bridge in the struggle
for power. And they are quick to
point that the President’s
associates today are perhaps
people he would not touch with
long pole years ago!
As if to respond to these
concerns, Buhari went straight-
ahead to rejuvenate the
Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC), which
according to Hilary Clinton some
time ago, “had fallen off” after
Ribadu. The appointment of
Ibrahim Magu as the chairman
of EFCC was simply a signal from
Buhari that the business of
fighting corruption has resumed
in earnest. Those who know
Magu’s antecedents will readily
admit that he fits the President’s
seriousness and uncompromising
attitude to corruption. Magu is
known like the President, to be
ascetic and incorruptible; he is
uncompromising and passionate
about fighting financial crimes.
He knows no big man or small
man, and once he is convinced, he
is not ready to pull back
irrespective of the position of
who is involved. It was this
uncompromising attitude and
blatant disregard for political
correctness that put his life and
career at risk before, at the
Commission.
But is the government playing
politics with Mr. Magu’s
confirmation at the Senate? It
will be recalled that several
months after the presidency
forwarded Magu’s name to the
Senate for confirmation, the
upper chamber of the National
Assembly is yet to consider that
presidential request. The Senate
is dominated by the ruling All
Progressives Congress (APC)
whose cardinal policy for which
they were elected into office is
fighting corruption. And the
President, their leader, has
identified one man who in all
honesty can help him achieve his
target goal in the anti-corruption
fight, yet the APC dominated
Senate does not see any urgency
in the matter of confirming the
EFCC chairman so as to allow him
concentrate on the difficult
battle ahead in the interest of
the Nigerian people.
Yet, the matter of Magu’s
confirmation is beyond APC
alone. It ought to be and indeed
is a general Nigerian concern
irrespective of party affiliation.
Since it is a general consensus
that corruption is the greatest
enemy against the Nigerian state,
it is in the public interest that
the confirmation of the EFCC
chairman should not be allowed
to linger in the Senate. By
delaying Magu’s confirmation, the
Senate are working against the
interest of Nigerian people who
elected them. And they are
further alienating themselves
from the public who believe that
they are sabotaging Buhari’s
efforts against corruption. All
manners of speculations are up
in the air on why the Senate are
delaying the confirmation of
Magu as EFCC chairman.
Yet the Senate must realise that
constitutionally, it is the chief
arm of fighting corruption with
its oversight functions. Already it
is sad that the National
Assembly has been noted by
Nigerians as perhaps the most
corrupt institution in the land. By
continuing to obstruct the
President’s anti-corruption war
as they are doing with the
politics of Magus’s confirmation,
the Senate is certainly not
covering itself in glory! And one
more thing, the President must
continue to insist on his
candidate for the EFCC
chairman. Not getting Magu to
cross the Senate shenanigan of
confirmation could be
interpreted to mean that he is
not yet ready to fight corruption
in the country!

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