Some time back President Muhammadu Buhari said, “When you fight corruption, corruption would you fight back”. Exactly what President Buhari said is what is happening today in the case of Magu. It is worthy of note that one of the most difficult things to bring about in life is change also there is this saying that “a habit is a good slave but a bad master”. Nigerians have become so used to corruption that they would prefer a corrupt government and would do anything to resist the fight against corruption. As President Buhari’s fight against corruption continued to progress and had begun to take effect, one woman said with nostalgia that; “let corruption come back so that we can eat”. It is strange that Nigerians would prefer to continue living in a corrupt system that has rendered moribund most of the country’s institutions.
Since 1959 when crude oil was discovered in Oloibiri in Bayelsa state, Nigeria has realized over $700billion from the sale of crude oil. Over $200billion has been traced to the account of Nigerians outside the country. All these years’ anti-corruption institutions like the Nigeria Police had existed while there had been extant laws on corruption; however corruption had reigned supreme in the country.
In the past there had been efforts that had been made by previous administrations to fight corruption like the War Against Corruption and Indiscipline WAI, in 1984 which was truncated by the short-lived administration, also former President Olusegun Obasanjo had attempted to fight corruption when he introduced the anti-graft agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission ICPC. This agency was dead on arrival as it turned out to be a toothless bulldog that could not bite. ICPC was bedeviled by so many litigations that that the commission could not actualize its mandate. Obasanjo later on went ahead to set up the Economic and Financial Commission EFCC which succeeded in instilling some fear in the mind of Nigerians as some people would take to their heels on sighting an official of EFCC. However some critics labeled the activities of EFCC as being targeted at the political enemies of the administration. Later things would grow worse as the successors of the pioneer Chairman of EFCC never did much to fight corruption till Ibrahim Magu came on board.
In the past the EFCC never convicted any high profile looter but today the story is different. So far the commission has secured 2,448 convictions. In the present dispensation high profile looters like former governor of Plateau state Joshua Dariye and that of Taraba are presently behind bars. Former National publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party Olisa Metu has joined the inmates of Kuje prisons alongside pension thief John Yakubu, Munir Sagir who was Chairman of Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries, 2 Senior Staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC Christian Nwosu and Tijanni Inda-Bath. These were persons that were deemed untouchable in the past but such people have been arrested, even those who thought they could hide under the cloak of the ruling party were not accorded any special privileges. Since this administration came into office some level of sanity has prevailed in the country especially in the area off accountability.
The commission under Magu recovered funds in excess of N800billion alongside real estate, filling stations, land, automobiles, Jets, shops, vessels, hospitals, petroleum products, barges, tug boats, dredgers, farmland, plazas, electronics, bank accounts, equipment, machinery and hotels.
Under the whistle blowing policy the commission recovered $9.8million cash hidden in a slum in Kaduna, $43million, 27,000 pounds and N23million found in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi Lagos and N250miilion found in Kaduna airport. $1million cash belonging to late Chief of Defence Staff Alex Badeh.
It will be recalled that under Magu, EFCC launched Cyber staorm which led to the arrest of 50 yahoo-yahoo boys. The commission was also able to secure the conviction of those inducing voters with money.
As the country continued to fight against corruption, Nigeria’s external reserves has continued to grow and presently stands at $36billion. The Treasury Single Account TSA had blocked so many loopholes through which money had been siphoned in the past and fiscal discipline has been restored in the country.
Magu had contributed in no small measure to the growth and progress of the country as so much money had been recovered from looters and sanity has prevailed in many quarters. Nigerians have realized that it is no longer business as usual and have learnt to cut their coat according to their cloth. It is not surprising that corruption is now fighting back as such some people would want Magu out of their way.
Notwithstanding the fact that allegations have been leveled against Magu, however caution needs be applied because Nigerians do not know the motives of the accusers. Some of these persons might be using this persecution as a means of shielding their own misdeeds. As such President Buhari has to be careful about the decision he would take in this matter. It does not come as a surprise that some persons might be trying to mislead Mr. President to show Magu the way out. It in view of the foregoing that we counsel President Buhari to burrow a leaf from onetime American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt FDR who insisted on retaining an appointee in office notwithstanding the fact that some people had frowned at the appointment of that person. Buhari should not throw the baby out with the bath water.
Ibrahim Modibbo, a public commentator and analyst writes from Abuja.