The announcement of Abdulrasheed Bawa by President Muhammadu Buhari as the new Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) Chair subject to confirmation by the Senate raised a lot of mixed reactions as expected. Many have since taken a more microscopic look at this new appointment.
Some have been mischievous, playing all kinds of cards from ethnic to blatant falsehoods and phantom charges, but it behoves on analytical minds to state the facts as they are without mincing words for the benefit of the common good.
Some have asked, why jettison tradition by appointing an EFCC Chair from outside of the Police hierarchy?
A common plague that has trailed the office of the Chair of the Anti-corruption agency has been the ruffles between the Police Institution and the office holder who has to pay loyalty to police top echelon over and above the EFCC which is supposed to be the primary station of duty.
We are all living witnesses to the disgraceful exit of Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer Chair of EFCC, not for lack of passion to service but for not massaging the egos of the police.
Others who came after him did not fare any better as they all suffered various degrees of distractions from their primary Constituency.
The departure from this norm is therefore a welcome development that deserves commendation from everyone who desires a seamless battle against graft. This appointment will certainly foster institutional independence and better service delivery and ensure a more focused and result driven Agency.
This new development will also put to rest the agitation by core of EFCC staff to have a ‘home grown’ operative to head the Agency.
Bawa, the 40 year old Chief Detective Superintendent since 2016, is in no way short on experience bearing in mind that he represents the class of one of the earliest In-house recruitments in the EFCC in 2005. He has since led the operations of the Anti-corruption agency in three sensitive states, namely: Oyo, Rivers, FCT and more recently, Lagos.
Putting to rest, accusations of being from the Northern part of the country, discerning observers of the Anti graft Agency all agree that competence is what the commission needs at this crucial turn in its history and Bawa does not suffer in that regard.
They also contend that two presidents of southern extraction have appointed holders of the office from the North without seeing it as an issue. That shouldn’t be the case today either. Competency shouldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of satisfying ethnic bias.
At 40, being the youngest to be nominated for such an office since its establishment, we can say in good conscience that the President has done well with the choice of Bawa to bring in a youthful touch to one of the three cardinal programmes of his administration- anti corruption. This he has been able to do without sacrificing experience. It is, indeed, a rare win-win no doubt.
Keen observers have also punctured the accusation that Bawa owes the appointment to his filial relationship with a certain top official of government. The question that begs for answer is: should the President Buhari have refused to pick the best person for the job just because of this claim? Certainly not.
Indeed, a lot of factors stood Bawa in good stead and positioned him as a good choice.
His extensive experience in the prosecution and investigation of white collar fraud, money laundering, advance fee fraud in all its progressions over the years and other economic and financial crimes cannot be overlooked. A BSc degree holder in Economics and a Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy, surely Bawa would be more circumspect in fighting corruption than the crude means of the average jack boot police officer. A plus at a time when abuses of human rights and brute force has put the people on a collision course against anti-crime law enforcers.
One presumes that the several specialized trainings and courses in security and investigating matters both home and abroad that Bawa has been exposed to over the years would surely rub off on the whole guard at EFCC.
Could this be the sterling qualities that are giving fifth columnists and nay sayers jitters? As the cock and bull stories of charges of corruption and crime against him have so far been found to be baseless, not even one case file not to talk of a proper prosecution charge has been brought against him by these unknown faces marketing this mischief.
A number of firsts and trail blazing pointers will be recorded with Abdulrasheed Bawa at helm of EFCC, namely:
• Born in the year 1981 in Jega, Kebbi State, he would be the youngest occupant of that position, the youngest before now being Nuhu Ribadu who was 42 when he resumed the office.
• Bawa’s tutelage under all past EFCC chairpersons, from Nuhu Ribadu, who recruited the first set of non-police officers into EFCC in 2005 would mean a well knowledgeable Chairperson with a proper sense of history of the commission vis-à-vis its current objectives.
• Bawa’s core role in the investigation of a number of key corruption and financial crimes investigations including the infamous case of former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Niger State Governor, Muazu Babangida Aliyu, the Controversial crude oil swap deal and that of the petroleum subsidy fraud of 2012 to 2015 makes him a tough hand and no green horn when it comes to handling high profile cases.
• A recipient of several top high level crime busting trainings from the FBI, KPMG and agencies in the global western hemisphere like the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
At a time when it is perceived that the anti-corruption efforts of the administration has ran aground, an experienced and youthful Abdulrasheed Bawa is definitely the answer to that yearning cry for a breath of fresh air. It is hoped that the Senate confirmation would make this a reality.