IS EFCC GRANDSTANDING?
I have been watching the rash of arrests and arraignment of some kleptomaniacs in recent weeks by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The rash of arrests, it seems, is to convince Nigerians that the new EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, is doing his job and he is very serious about fighting corruption in Nigeria. But I have to confess that I am not in any way impressed. I am not impressed because I am of the view that the EFCC is just grandstanding. It is not sincere. It is trying to fool Nigerians. The EFCC is trying to lure angry and agitated Nigerians to slumber.
I know some will argue that 'they are doing something.' Some will say 'at least, they have to start somewhere.' Well, we have been deceived for too long that no one will blame me for being cynical. And if anyone wishes to blame me, so be it. I do not believe the EFCC. I am just not sold on this grandstanding. Nothing really is happening in the war against corruption in my own opinion. It is all an illusion. It is not real. It is a fake.
A while ago, Mr. Lamorde disclosed that the Commission has convicted more than 288 persons over sundry Internet crimes. He also reported that four fugitives were extradited to the United States and another 234 cases are still being prosecuted in courts across the country. This disclosure is emblematic of the charade that the EFCC is trying to sell to Nigerians at home and abroad. The small fries are the ones that are being chased around, prosecuted and jailed while the big fries are flagrantly gallivanting around the nation and the world with conspicuous and ostentatious consumption. They don't give a damn about EFCC, because they believe they are 'untouchables.'
Look at the list of those who have been convicted. They are not just few in number; they consist of those who have no protection of and by the system. They are the ones I refer to as 'dispensables.' They are the sacrificial lambs to get Nigerian off the back of the administration and convince the world that 'something is being done about corruption.' But it is all a faÃ§ade. It is grandstanding. There is no real substance as far as I am concerned.
Until some of the Governors are indicted, arraigned, prosecuted and jailed, I would not buy the EFCC product. Until we have an incumbent Minister indicted, arraigned, prosecuted and jailed, the EFCC is not going to get any credit from me. Until some sitting Senators and or members of Federal House of Representatives caught in their act are indicted, arraigned, prosecuted and convicted, the EFCC will remain a discredited body. The CBN governor is not answering questions about donating our money to his preferred victims. Where did he get the money he was donating? Is that part of his statutory functions? Another Senator is already out-maneuvering the EFCC? What is the EFCC doing about vote thieves? And those former governors, who have stolen our money, are they still enjoying immunity?
I am not expecting a witch-hunt, victimization or blackmailing. But we all read the newspapers. We listen to Radio and Television. We all surf the internet media. We read about mind boggling corrupt practices on daily basis from the Presidency to local government level. But as far as the EFCC is concerned, nothing is happening. In this war against corruption, Nigeria has become George Orwell's Animal Farm where 'All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.'
The EFCC must be the only body in Nigeria that does not seem to understand that the reason corruption is so rife is because the 'leaders' are pathologically corrupt and are incorrigibly crooked. They have debased our public morality. Thus, an average citizen who has the intention of being honest and incorruptible has no incentive to do so, in the face of a macerating economy.
Until the EFCC beheads the snake of corruption, it is laboring in vain. Corruption is like a tree. When you cut the branches, you have not achieved anything, because other branches would grow and become formidable. What we need is the uprooting of the tree of corruption and the only way to do this is to begin from the top. Touch the untouchables. Make a sample of them and see what happens.
Oyeyemi writes from Lagos.