Enemies Of Nigeria
September 28, 2006
Permit me to open my presentation with a
statement of gratitude for the generous invitation to address this hallowed
chamber of Africa's best minds in the enterprise of legislative architecture for
Africa's most populous and most influential nation.
As I look across this hall, today, I am reminded, in all humility, of the great
opportunities before us as, well as the incredible challenges we face in the
difficult task of transformative policy making. Distinguished Senators, thank
you for your daily policy engagement for the progress of our nation. I also
want to quickly thank you for the visionary step you took three years ago to
bring our organization, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),
into existence via the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004. In that modest time
capsule, we have tried to remain faithful to the mandate you gave us, the
summary of which is to help the process of evolving a Nigerian ethos that sheds
off the miasma around our image and aspiration as a people and a nation.
Before getting into the details of my presentation, let me also use this rare
opportunity to comment on your many impressive contributions to our national
policy making process. Without looking too far, one will remember the wonderful
collaboration (along with your brothers in the lower house) you have developed
with the Presidency and which led to the recent epochal and salutary resolution
of our debt burden. Certainly too, it is pertinent to comment on your sterling
contributions to the overarching national economic reform and budgeting process
which have moved this country far away from the odium of the past in the larger
public management practice of this country.
Mr. Senate President, Distinguished Senators, as a nation, today, we stand at
the cusp of a great historical divide and the boundary of a momentous decision
passage. Whatever direction we turn holds immense implication for the stability
of our democracy and the future of our nation. One right turn can lead us to
the proper place we belong as true leaders of the region and as the architects
of Africa's renewal. However, we can also make a wrong turn as many nations
have done in history and smash the package of promises embedded in our
collective struggles, triggering it to unravel in the most horrendous pattern of
nightmarish heuristic forms.
You know very well what I am alluding to here. With 2007 knocking at the door,
the most important service this body can offer Nigerians will be a sense of
direction, pointing to the goal toward having God-fearing and levelheaded
leaders in government at all tiers. This is a collective challenge for Nigerians
but you will need to take the lead by showing example.
For us at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), we never lose the
sense of perspective that our mandate derives from this chamber, and that we are
agents of the vision you constructed which is to promote a policy platform of
accountability and transparency. Today, I stand confidently before you to
announce that among our little successes to date, the Commission can boast of
the following achievements in the implementation of its preventive and
Petitions received - 4,324
Cases under investigation - 2,103
Cases under prosecution - 306
Arrests - More than 2,000
Properties recovered - Several houses, land, luxury cars, airplanes, and oil
Value of assets and cash recovered - $5b US Dollars Number of convictions - 88
We are also concluding plans in partnership with a broad section of the Nigerian
civil society to commence a civic and education program that will subject our
mandate to greater public ownership and oversight.
Distinguished Senators, at the heart of the Nigerian democratic challenge,
today, in our opinion, is the question of governance. Governance matters. It
is the framework around which citizens come to acquire a true sense of the
dividends of democracy. It is governance that helps to bridge the gulf between
the abstract promises of democratic theory and the practical reality of daily
If you would therefore reduce the huge catalogue of public management failures
in Nigeria to one simple concept, it would be that corruption stands at the
midriff of our obstacle to attain the best we hope to be as a people and a
I am confident as I am concerned that without dealing decisively and strongly
with this problem, we would make no headway as a nation. Yet as we muster all
the resources at our disposal to confront this challenge, we face a powerful
force of elite conspiracy and the willful obfuscation of reality by its
well-oiled propaganda systems. To be sure, the elites are not the only corrupt
social group in this country but we would labour in vain to ignore the fact that
as the most organised, most influential, and most powerful group in society
today, they represent an incredible obstacle to many social reforms, for which
the poorest of us and the most vulnerable of the society are consigned to be the
There is no denying the fact that a tangible anti-corruption work is like a
blood sport - it is, without doubt the most dangerous job to do in this land
today. Should we pack our bags, our hands in the sky, and give up in
submission? Our position at the EFCC is that this is not a choice, and that we
shall not, and indeed cannot, afford that cold, conspiratorial comfort which
forecloses the future of our children and the true destiny of our nation.
We have therefore accepted the dark, thankless path of elite pillory the heroic
contributions of our operational and prosecution team as either a witch hunt
exercise or acts in selective justice. In truth, these claims fly in the face
of hard evidence and the facts unassailable. The EFCC's anti-corruption struggle
merely targets the enemies of this country and not the law abiding, patriotic,
citizens who are going about their business dutifully.
The main import of my briefing today is to share some results from our ongoing
investigations of money laundering and abuse of office across the country at the
State and Local council levels. However, let me end this preliminary comments by
assuring you, Distinguished Senators, that sometimes in that dark, cold, and
treacherous night, when I call up and trigger the great men and women who do
this dangerous job, sometimes with just a few minutes window for them to say
goodbye to their beloved spouses and children, and ask that they proceed and get
the gang of bad people wrecking the image of this country; they never complain,
they never waver, they always look in the direction of this great chamber in the
assurance that you are behind us and will always be there. Please, do not
falter in this support.
My presence here therefore is both in acknowledgement of your invitation but
also to bring you their gratitude. They are unsung heroes of this struggle, not
people like me who manage to capture the banner headlines (for good or ill!).
These men and women demand nothing from the nation and its leaders but support,
and thanks to their efforts this country has changed for the better in the past
three years. I urge that you redouble your support in encouragement of their
services to our country.
I thank you for your time and look forward to further collaboration with you in
the journey ahead.
Let me now share the results of our on going State and Local Government Council
investigations with you.