Nigerian journalist, Erasmus Ikhide, writes about Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC.
The not too Young to Run Bill which was passed by the 8th National Assembly was a response to the clamour by the youths for them to be given a chance to participate in the governance in the most populous black nation on earth. In 2019 some gains were made as the then 32 year old Adebowale Ogundoyin became the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Ayuba Abok, a then 33 year old final year law student emerged as the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Joana Kolo became the youngest commissioner in the country at 26 when the Kwara State Governor appointed her in 2019 as the Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development in the North Central State.
The agitation then surreptitiously shifted to the political appointees. President Buhari was accused of running a government populated by old men who didn’t give a hoot about the inclusion of the youths especially the disgruntled millennials who were seeing their mates performing wonders not only in the West but in some African nations. Buhari then broke the jinx by appointing Abdulrasheed Bawa as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last year at the young age of 40 and broke the tradition of appointing only policemen as the EFCC helmsmen.
Bawa was thoroughly bashed by the media despite his intimidating credentials as a detective as one of the pioneers in the anti graft commission for being a lackey of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. Rather than engage in a needless war, he went down to work and waged a virulent war against criminals and fraudsters who were denting the image of the nation both locally and internationally. He recorded numerous gains and rather than become a poster boy of the media, he rather let his work speak volumes for him and avoided all distractions choosing to focus on the arduous and unenviable task of battling financial crimes.
Popular online newspaper and arguably Nigeria’s number one investigative journalism medium, Premium Times reported on January 11, 2021 that the EFCC recovered 152 billion naira and $386 million in 2021. This is worth celebrating as the monies will be sent back to the coffers of the Federal Government to be used for the development of the country which is in dire need of funds as oil revenues have been drying up lately and quickly. His critics have been quiet on this latest investigation instead of working hand-in-hand with this quiet anti corruption Czar to battle crime.
I recall in an article earlier written that his critics criticized the commission and by extension him of budgeting one billion naira for the training of the commission’s officials. How preposterous! How much is one billion naira in USD? A mere $2 million for the training of over 500 officials in an era where financial crimes are getting more sophisticated with the misuse and abuse of the new and social media? Do his critics prefer analogue minds to battle digital criminals? Do you know how much anti graft agencies even in Rwanda and South Africa budget to battle financial crimes? Let me not even mention western countries!
It is crystal clear even to the blind that Bawa is really working despite his media shyness and should be encouraged in national interest to work assiduously in the best interest of the hapless masses who suffer directly and indirectly for the crimes. Imagine the gargantuan foreign investments being lost because of the activities of the criminals popularly known as ‘yahoo boys!’ Imagine the demarketing of Nigeria abroad as a result of the sinister and nefarious activities of the criminals and how that affects genuine economic opportunities online which the hoi polloi suffer! There are many financial opportunities which are being denied Nigerians simply because of the activities of a miniscule number of the so called yahoo boys.
For instance global Fintech company, PayPal banned Nigeria from its operations because of the massive online fraud going on here, GoFundMe, the world’s largest crowdfunding website delisted Nigeria from the list of countries that could participate in raising funds for a plethora of causes because of online fraud. In the course of my investigation as a journalist and anti-corruption crusader, I discovered that some yahoo boys make a fortune from the biggest Chinese e-commerce Website, Alibaba and it is only a matter of time before they slam a huge ban on Nigeria because of the mind boggling fraud. Imagine if PayPal, GoFundMe and AliBaba had physical operations in Nigeria! Massive jobs would have been created both directly and indirectly for our teeming angry youths. What about the development of cities and towns which these companies would have brought with its concomitant spiraling effect on the real estate value of these cities?
Bawa being a visionary who believes in getting the job done understands the value of human capital development. Nigeria is now reaping the rewards of the training that he made possible for the officials working there with Nigeria being the better for it. He should be commended to the High Heavens as decent Nigerians should do all they can to rid the nation off financial crimes and its attendant destructive consequences.
I was scandalized when a group who named itself ‘Concerned Mothers of Yahoo Boys’ was vocal to act as a ‘pressure group’ championing the interests of their morally decadent and bankrupt sons. How low has the country sunk! All these makes Bawa’s heart grieve and it was imperative of him to do something to effectively make these criminals who have sold their conscience to the devil for a plate of pepper soup and the elixir of illicit sex from whores pay for their crimes by making the terrain extremely hot for them.
In a decent society, Bawa should win the Man of the Year but alas we are tragically controlled by corrupt politicians who have hijacked the soul of every sector of our economy with the polity now controlling the economy – a weird aberration of what obtains in this third world jungle.
Personally, I make a call on international graft agencies and foreign donor agencies to give massive grants and technical backing to the commission so that it can do more for the country and reduce crime so that once more Nigeria can be great again.
A sturdy thumbs up Abdulrasheed Bawa!
Erasmus Ikhide is a former media aide to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, a journalist, media entrepreneur and anti corruption crusader. He wrote in from Lagos.