By Seun Awogbenle
When my friend and brother Tunde Osunmakinde said, we will just have to keep watching this film that is Nigeria I felt that deeply, I knew he had said that from a place of pain for a country he loves so much, best believe nothing else could have provoked such feeling of helplessness than a deep reflection of what has become a national embarrassment which is the trial and travail of Nigeria’s erstwhile anti-corruption Chief, Ibrahim Mustapha Magu.
Until recently Ibrahim Mustapha Magu was Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption czar, chasing the metaphorical ‘bad boys’ who have stopped at nothing to pilfer Nigeria’s commonwealth and national treasury. While it is easy to draw a common parallel with Nigeria’s erstwhile Anti-corruption chiefs from Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri to Ibrahim Lamorde, We can not overlook the fact that Magu’s unravelling is coming under a government that campaigned vigorously on the strength of fighting graft and all forms of corruption, well, after 5 years one of the easiest things to conclude is that this administration’s sing song about anti-corruption is a farce and lip service at best, infact I am forced to align with some quarters that this administration is the most corrupt in our democratic history.
Before now, I had mentioned repeatedly that someone like Magu should never be working on a tight rope, a man like Magu is expected to be above board, and beyond reproach, a case of he who must come to equity must come with clean hands, but clearly, Magu’s hands are stained and drenched in one form of corruption or the other. Magu has since become the butt of jokes among Nigeria’s social media users, ‘Hushmagu’ is the new buzzword on social media, nothing is as depressing as this, that a day would come when Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Czar would be likened to a notorious man who has become the symbol for internet fraud and cybercrime.
While Magu has not been convicted or declared guilty, what is clear is that he is a man of questionable character, at least the DSS report from 2016 underscore this fact, upon which the 8th Senate decided to reject his confirmation as EFCC Chairman, but the presidency chooses to disingenuously keep him afloat despite a damning security report that emanated from within the Executive. Sad!
While it is impossible to deny the obvious power play within the presidency which is honestly not healthy for our development and progress as a nation, but like Dele Farotimi said last week, it is best not to die in their war, as Nigerians are not anywhere within the consideration of the combatants! It is clearly a struggle for personal interest, power and relevance.
Although Magu is still being quizzed by the Presidential Investigation Committee led by Justice Ayo Salami, the preliminary reports coming out of the committee’s investigation is thoroughly disturbing, from those of discrepancies in assets recovery and remittances to that of the lack of due process in disposing of the assets, this surely can’t be the Nigeria our founding fathers envisioned!
Perhaps, what is most confounding of the preliminary reports is that of the relooting of the recovered assets, BudgIT Nigeria’s civic tech organisation reported on Monday that there is currently no database for recovered assets in Nigeria. According to BudgIT recovered funds are being looted again under Muhammadu Buahri, case in point Nigerian government between 1998 and 2020 has recovered about $3.6bn from the Abacha loot, but there has been No public audit on the funds & other recovered assets!
While this culture of relooting recovered assets is not exclusive to Buhari’s administration, we would continue to hold Buhari responsible on his promise to fight graft and put Nigeria back on the path of prosperity and development. In the over 15 years of EFCCs establishment, we have come to realise that the institution is only as strong as the head of the agency, we definitely cannot build the fight against corruption around individuals, it must be about the institution and building a sustainable system that is not at the whims of those in power, it must be completely free from interference and vested interest.
We cannot continue to have an anti-graft agency that is at the whims of the government in power, the selective fight against corruption, just like we have seen for the most part under Buhari is also corruption, once you are a friend of the government you are almost likely to be shielded from prosecution.
Whatever Buhari is doing to fight corruption is presently not working, infact I can’t see it, fighting corruption should not be merely sloganeering, but that is the best Buhari has done, to regale us with Anti-Corruption tale for 5 years while there is monumental corruption going on under his own nose.
Today, Buhari’s administration has not just become a cesspool of corruption like those before him, it is the Next Level of corruption!