THE FARIDA AFFAIR
Two weeks down the line, there are still more questions than answers on the removal of Mrs Farida Waziri as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). And I believe Nigerians deserve answers to the bothersome questions. Why sack a person who had just about six months to the end of her tenure in office, and then pretend everything was normal? Why not let her complete the term and exit decently? Why was the separation handled with the characteristic government shoddiness of her hearing the news on television before the official letter got to her? Is this not a throwback to military days when people were both hired and fired through the media, or was it a deliberate ploy to embarrass and discomfit the woman? President Goodluck Jonathan gave approval for the removal, hopped on a plane to Paris, before the media statement was issued. Was it not proper to have called the woman and personally broken the news to her before it became a public matter? What was the president afraid of?
More questions. Did Farida Waziri happen onto something that was potentially embarrassing to the Jonathan administration, and so, the president was forced to sacrifice her by the powers behind the throne? Or, rather, was she engaged in unpardonable malfeasance that made her continuation in the office of EFCC chairman untenable? If so, why is she then not being summarily prosecuted? Is it true that Western nations put pressure on Jonathan to sack Waziri because they felt the anti-corruption war under her had 'fallen off,' as alleged by U.S Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, sometime ago? If so, will Western powers henceforth decide whom Nigeria hires and fires?
And again, don't Nigerians deserve an explanation? If the head of the foremost anti-corruption agency in the country is removed before her time was up, shouldn't we be told why? Doesn't this reinforce the perceived notion that in this country, the people do not matter, and that government can abolish the people, and continue with governance? Really, more questions than answers.
Personally, I think Farida Waziri tried her level best within the limitations of circumstances. Right from her very first day in office, she had not been primed to succeed. She replaced Nuhu Ribadu, who had fought a good fight against corruption, but who was also given to high propaganda and verbal recklessness. I had issues with Ribadu. I felt he was rather swashbuckling, and had elevated himself to messianic pedestal. Many times, I warned him to do the job with his head in the clouds if he wanted, but with his feet firmly on the ground. But he lost both his head and feet, and got sacrificed eventually. To me, attitude was the problem with Ribadu, and Waziri learnt the vital lesson, she came with a better attitude. And attitude is everything. She was not brash, impulsive and impetuous like her predecessor. Her speed may not have been dizzying, but what is the use of speed if you will crash, and not get to your destination in one piece?
Waziri came into office as EFCC chairman, and like my friend, Is'haq Modibbo Kawu, wrote in the Vanguard of Thursday, last week, 'she never really had a chance.' Why? The vocal Ribadu crowd hounded, harassed and beleaguered her, both locally and internationally. Oh, she stood surety to a corrupt former governor as a lawyer. Oh, she was appointed by powerful former governors who were to face trial. Oh, she and the then Attorney-General, Michael Aondoakaa had a game plan to kill the anti-corruption war. Blah, blah and more blah. Farida was tarred with the brush of infamy right from the beginning, and she was simply swimming against the currents. The international community bought the propaganda, and they simply shut their hearts against her. That she lasted for three and a half years, and recorded major achievements, is almost a miracle.
I'll say this any day. Waziri's style is more decent, more enduring than Ribadu's. We did not have the playing to the gallery of handcuffing suspects as Ribadu did to people like Tafa Balogun, Abubakar Audu, DSP Alamieyeseigha, Mohammed Bulama, and many others.
Suspects are mere suspects till proven guilty. Governors were not accused and convicted of corruption on the floor of the Senate, as happened under Ribadu. Unobtrusively but unheralded, Waziri recorded more convictions than in the Ribadu era, which I believe was filled with a lot of sound and fury. The mob loves things like that. But there is none blinder than those who voluntarily refuse to see. The antagonists were entrenched in their positions that the woman was appointed by 'corrupt' people, and so refused to give her a chance.
Now, I'm not saying Waziri could not have abused her office, leading to her removal. But did she? We have a right to know. If she did, why is she not put on trial? That is the next best thing to do. The jejune and ridiculous spin that first attended her removal, that she bought somebody in the presidency a car to retain her office, is so pedestrian, so unimaginative. She gave out the car, not that she received it. So, where was the offence? Can't you give something again, if you were in the position to do so? It is not what goes out of a man that defiles him, but what goes inside, says Jesus in the Good Book. I don't buy the car story. It is like the bicycle story told by an army general in the days leading to the civil war in the 1960s. The man said he escaped and rode many hundreds of kilometres to safety on a bicycle. Tall story. Baloney.
Farida Waziri had served in the Nigerian Police till she got to a point of honourable retirement. She left either as Assistant Inspector-General; or a Commissioner of Police. Whatever the true rank, she was quite senior, and deserved her rest after 35 years service. From private life, she was brought to public office again, and then exposed to so much odium, infamy and obloquy.
At the end, herself, her children and entire family are stigmatised with the indignity of a sack. Is this a fair way to treat anybody? Should that be the reward for national service? If she broke the rules of engagement for her office, it's another matter. But now, we've not been told she did. For the sake of Waziri and her family, let her please be charged and prosecuted if she broke the rules. At least, she will have a chance to defend herself, and we will know if she's guilty or not. If she's innocent, she clears the reputation of herself and her family. As things stand now, she's guilty for life in the court of public opinion. What a way to get rewarded for public service! Is Nigeria worth serving at all? A sack on television. A kick in the teeth. That is what you get for national service here. Shame.
I've also heard from some usually reliable sources that the president was forced to sack Waziri, after she concluded investigation into the activities of a pernicious cabal, fleecing the country of trillions of naira. Members of the cabal were the ones who largely funded Jonathan's campaign, they can be said to have installed him in office. So, when they flashed the erstwhile EFCC boss the red card, she just had to go. True? It is also in the interest of the government to confirm or dispel this story, by telling us the truth, nothing but the truth about the Farida affair. In this case, silence is not golden at all. The story has it that the woman was removed the very next day after she gave the report of her investigation to the president. True? We need to know.
The acting EFCC boss, Ibrahim Lamorde, has good antecedents. A true operations man, he was the backbone of the Ribadu days, acted for a while as boss, and then handed over to Farida Waziri. He knows the agency inside out, he's also said to be courageous and painstaking. But I have a worry. We know the role Attorney-Generals played in slowing down the anti-corruption war, first with Aondoakaa, and now with Bello Adoke. They all want to put the EFCC in their pockets. Will Lamorde be able to stand up to Adoke, which we know was one of Waziri's sins? If he wants to be confirmed substantive chairman, he has to bow to Adoke's wishes. Will that then be the kind of EFCC the country deserves? I wish Lamorde well, but he has the challenge of either playing Adoke's good boy, or fighting a truly dispassionate war, with no friend or foe.
Re: The sinners of Mount Sinai
I woke everyone up
By 12.20a.m, I had to suspend my reading of your piece on Mt. Sinai, because I woke everybody in the house with laughter. My ribs are aching seriously.
Rev John Uko
Question for Iya Ijebu
Please help me ask Iya Ijebu haw the younger brother of death looks like. Well, God does not live on Mt. Sinai, He lives with us in spirit.
Emmanuel Mbah, Abuja, 08034474210
Smoking hemp on Sinai
Smoking Indian hemp on Sinai, a place God once dwelled and still dwells because of the church there, clearly shows the towering presence of culture over religion, irrespective of the rich spiritual history of Sinai.
Comrade Prince Okporua
I've been to Sinai
I've been to Mt. Sinai, and I promised never to climb again, because a pilgrim from Kaduna died in my presence after climbing. It's like going on a suicide mission.
Prophet Busayo Adegbola, Ibadan
See you. Lazy bones. Climbing Sinai is not only to go and pray, but to also experience what Moses went through to get the Ten Commandments. Shalom.
Mama Koya, JP
My advice to any prospective pilgrim is to embark on extensive exercise two to three months before departure to Israel. But are you not lazy? A young man like you could not climb to where Moses saw God. Anyway, congratulations on a successful pilgrimage.
I fully support you
God called Moses specifically to Mt. Sinai, Moses did not climb on his own. I fully support your decision not to climb the mountain. I do not support putting oneself in danger for religious purpose.
Rev S. A. Adetayo, St John's Anglican Church, Ikotun, Lagos
You brought Israel home to us
I laughed my head off as my ribs ached when I read your piece. For those who can't go to Sinai, I recommend they go to Shere Hills in Plateau State, and climb the one they call '120.' They will testify that 'rere ni Oluwa' (God is good). You have brought Israel home to us.
Daramola Kazeem, Suleja
You seem not to get tired of being mischievous. Welcome back, the latest J.P.
Friday C. C. Abuja
Charity begins at home
Have you ever been to our own Mt. Sinai? I mean Ori Oke MTN at Ikoyi in Osun State? Charity begins at home.
Pastor Ifeanyi Onyeneke
I'm not surprised about the bad boys on Mt. Sinai. Remember Satan was in heaven before he got the boot.
Amby I. J., Edo State
Your pilgrimage was incomplete without doing the Sinai. You don't climb the Iroko tree everyday. Once you are up there, you harvest everything you can, because you don't know when the opportunity will come again.
Hope you prayed for us
You are welcome back, and I hope you prayed for our country and your friends and fans. Nno oo.
Jones Ohanusi, Ajegunle, Lagos
Fine, either way
If you climbed, fine, if you didn't climb, fine. You actually gave a vivid picture of the trip. I felt as if I was there in person.
God no more on mountains
Mountains are holy, and God used to meet the holy men there. But now, evil people have taken over the mountains, and God is no more coming there.
You are just defending yourself because you have no stamina to climb Mt Sinai. Anyway, God can answer prayers from anywhere.
Chuks Francis Obeche, Mafoloku, Lagos
I agree with you
I don't know when Nigerian Christians will learn that God is everywhere. Enough of this hypocrisy.
So na only mouth you get
Na wah o. So na only mouth and pen you get. Maybe you travelled without kulikuli, and that was why you fumbled like Super Eagles. Welcome sha. After all, onye matulu agu aka, aga ya ogbu agu.
Emma Ezedie, Apapa, Lagos
God answers everywhere
You were right in not climbing. I'll advice pilgrims to stop climbing Sinai because God answers everywhere.
A laughter day
Thanks for the beautiful piece that made my day a laughter day, considering how miserable PHCN has made us in the past weeks.
Not certificate to heaven
Thanks for letting some people know that pilgrimage is not a certificate to heaven. There are some JPs who feel like they have bought a place in heaven just like they buy vaults in advance for burial at Lekki.
Okenze Romanus Amakor
Not a laughing matter
He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. I praise Iya Ijebu for aborting the trip. It is not a laughing matter. She should go for thanksgiving.
It's your right
Your refusal to climb Sinai is your spiritual right because you did not embark on pilgrimage to drop a bagload of problems on top of the mountain. Bravo! Your decision is a wise one.
Ayo Moses, Ibadan
Things to hide
I think some people are hiding things that must be unveiled. Why climb the mountain in the night? Even Moses did not. Years back, a pastor from Jos died there.
Made my day
It was hilarious. You made my day. You did well not to climb Mt Sinai.
The difference is that the word is in you, and will shield you from wolves in religious clothing. Good you didn't climb, quite worthless.
You are honest
It beats my imagination why we Nigerians embark on this spiritual exercise, and come back as corpses. I hope other would-be pilgrims have learnt the hard truth. You are honest because those who had travelled always paint an 'all is well' picture.
I pray that your tour of Jerusalem will rekindle your faith in the Lord, and be a source of inspiration to other Christians. Congratulations.
Are you saying you did not do sports in your schooldays? I'm disappointed you did not climb Mt Sinai.
James Onuminya, Abeokuta
Thank God you are back in one piece. A hilarious piece. I laughed till my ribs were aching.
Ike Iwu, Kano
Thank God you didn't climb. I wouldn't like a situation where we'll be told we can't read kulikuli on Fridays again.
Let's make a law
Lazy man. We must make a law that those who won't climb Sinai will not be allowed to go on pilgrimage again.