Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
EFCC And Political Screening
culled from TRIBUNE, November 07, 2006
Much as it is true that all rational human beings cannot behave or appreciate issues in the same way, but it does not cease to amaze me why some people still oppose or condemn the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) given their laudable efforts at salvaging a country whose destiny has been altered by corrupt tendencies of its rulers; whether civilian or military politicians. No matter your sentiments about the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency, we must credit him with this first major commitment towards making public office holders accountable for financial dealings during their tenure in office; and fears have not been raised even by EFCC critics that the Commission, (unlike most other government establishments) is busy soiling its fingers with the filth it has been entrusted to clean up. When one reflects on corruption as the bane of our economic and social development as a nation, EFCC's decision to screen political candidates for 2007 elections and probe those holding public offices now, should rather be appreciated and encouraged than criticized.
Some opinions have suggested that the responsibility of certifying candidates fit to contest election ought to be INEC’s. INEC has, however, told us that such responsibility belongs to the political parties. The task of conducting free and fair polls in 2007 is already enormous for the electoral body to be saddled with intelligence gathering and investigations which proper screening of political candidates require. Moreover, as an administrative body, INEC does not have the wherewithal to conduct such effective screenings.
EFCC's efforts will certainly complement INEC’s objective and position that the Commission will do everything possible to stop corrupt politicians from contesting the 2007 polls. It is a bit unsettling, the thoughts of some people that EFCC is stepping beyond its bounds by saddling itself with the job of delving into the political field. They have reasoned that the statutory mandate of EFCC is to investigate and prosecute economic and financial crimes and not to screen or prosecute politicians. To these people, EFCC is seen as a tool of the ruling PDP government to coerce, scare or persecute political opponents.
It is neither an aberration for the EFCC to screen aspirants seeking elective political offices nor has it deviated from its statutory responsibility. What the Commission is doing is investigating political office seekers to find out if they have committed any economic and financial crimes. In the same manner, it is the responsibility of the NDLEA, the Police and the ICPC to screen aspirants of drug and social crimes respectively. Today, EFCC is at the centre-stage of public discussions and debates because it is the only organ that is doing its job with so much zeal and efficiency.
We cannot underscore the imperatives of EFCC screening political aspirants. The body has repeatedly told us its motivation for this is to guarantee free and fair elections in 2007. According to Nuhu Ribadu: “ It is not possible to have free and fair elections where corrupt people are allowed to contest elections, because, with their stolen wealth, they can influence so many things. I will not stop at anything to expose them… We are looking at every position: whether it is a local government chairman, a governor, or any position, including, of course, the presidency.
We must all work hard and ensure that we have credible people, honest people.” It has become apparent from what we can see that some of the aspirants for lofty offices in 2007 are people who have held public offices since 1985, the beginning of the era of unrestrained “I–chop–you–chop” whose key actors have never been investigated. There are also those who have held public offices in the present dispensation who are seeking a return to their present offices or seeking higher ones who must account for their actions in office.
EFCC has revealed an astounding number of governors under investigation so far for suspicion of enriching themselves with public funds; and these governors through corrupt practices they execute with their relatives or allies, control 50 per cent of the nation's economy. Why would any rational person question the rationale behind EFCC’s political screenings? The awry outcome and revelations of public office holders investigated so far have reemphasized the EFCC claim that if those seeking public offices are not investigated, we are likely about to enter a period of shameless flaunting of stolen wealth and campaign where the Naira, instead of integrity, speaks. If the public thieves return by means of embezzled funds, then the nation’s leadership will be clearly rotten, made up of men without conscience who would scrape public coffers and run the nation down the slope of infinite impoverishment once again.
So, the calls and ranting by those accused or investigated of political witch-hunt or vendetta are only face-saving and diversionary strategies which should not hold any water amongst right thinking individuals. The tendency of a criminal wanting to dictate when and how he should be accused or investigated, should be unacceptable.
© 1999 - 2006 Segun Toyin Dawodu. All rights reserved. All unauthorized copying or adaptation of any content of this site will be liable to legal recourse.
Segun Toyin Dawodu, P. O. BOX 710080, HERNDON, VA 20171-0080, USA.
This page was last updated on 10/27/07.