Saturday, March 5, 2016 10:05 pm
By Abiodun Onafuye/Abeokuta
Despite the yeoman’s job that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has embarked upon in the last 4 months in busting graft and financial crimes by the high and mighty in Nigeria, former president Olusegun Obasanjo is not impressed.
At his birthday celebration today, Obasanjo lambasted the commission as a toothless bulldog.
It must be a surprising verdict, going by the frenetic activities of the commission since Ibrahim Magu took over from Ibrahim Lamorde in November 2015. Perhaps, Obasanjo was oblivious of the commission’s work because he spends a lot of time outside Nigeria, on varied international assignments.
Obasanjo still nostalgic of his eight years as president, from 1999-2007, wondered what happened to the anti-graft agency that it has become ‘toothless’ in his view.
He said during EFCC regime of Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer chairman of the commission, Nigerians’ slogan then was, ‘the fair of Nuhu Ribadu is the beginning of wisdom’.
He however advised the Buhari government and all stakeholders to look into the fate of the agency, so that its activities will not amount to taking a step forward and further steps backward.
“Honestly, when Nuhu was handling EFCC, he handled it in such a way that people coined the saying that ‘the beginning of wisdom is the fear of Nuhu Ribadu’ and then the thing you will ask is how did we go down? How did we lose that?
“Nuhu Ribadu is still here, he is still alive, the institution we started together is still there, but what made the institution to become a toothless bulldog? What? And that’s the matter we have to keep looking at, so that we don’t take two steps forward, one step aside and three steps back”, Obasanjo said.
His flawless assessment of the Ribadu era will open him to criticisms as critics also accused Ribadu of being the ‘attack dog’ of Obasanjo’s presidency, going after perceived political enemies of Obasanjo and his then ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
Perhaps he attacked the commission because of speculations that it is re-opening the Halliburton bribery files, for which some aide of Obasanjo, PDP top members and senior military officers, have been identified for collecting bribes from the American company.