A Letter to Mrs Farida Waziri, EFCC Chairman

When we were growing up in management school, we were told that, if a problem is identified, other things being equal, that problem is 50 percent solved. This is true since the cause of the problem clearly suggest the solution there of. Whether this applies to the corruption issue in Nigeria is still not known. Thus, in Nigeria, the main cause of poverty and hunger is corruption as per looting of public money by people in high places. On identification of this problem, the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established with a clear mandate to recover stolen public money and prosecute the offenders in accordance with the existing laws of the land.

Honorable, your idiosyncrasy and Police track records made the people of Nigeria to venerate you with this dignified position, As a retired public officer, you cannot be insouciant with this respectable responsibility. You've nothing to lose if you choose not to summersault into the hands of Nigeria's demagogue and write your name in "gold" in the annals of the nation's history. You have everything to lose if you become credulous and make Nigerians and the rest of the world lose confidence in this Institute under your watch. Indeed, you don't want to leave an irritating legacy that would be indelible for your family. Please keep in mind that whether Mallam Ribadu, your predecessor carried out selective prosecution or not, he (Ribadu) was able to maintain this Institute to an acceptable degree under the circumstances because he recovered substantial amount from the thieves that impoverished the people they took oath to protect. Of course, your tenure would be juxtaposed with that of Ribadu, and certainly more is expected of you in terms of the Institute's score-board. Remember, you're older in age and in Police ranking. These qualities come with truthfulness and experience. During your screening process, your husband told the nation that you're capable of arresting him if the need be. So, who is that, you cannot handle now? Summarily, you should be intransigent and excoriate any hidden agenda of recovering loots from past and present treasury looters. This way, Nigerians, home and abroad and the International community would be buoyed by your good work.

Honorable, the Punch Newspaper of July 23, 2008 credited you with a statement, "rather than going after corrupt Nigerians, she would focus on the prevention of corruption." This statement is pregnant with you undermining your job description, the main focus as highlighted above---recover all stolen money and punish the offenders. Whatever finesse you want to adopt in achieving this goal is okay, provided Nigerians can attest to the Institute's success during your tenure. What is interesting to Nigerians is not to see looters taken to court in handcuffs, but the monies stolen by the criminals must be fully recovered and judiciously used to elevate hunger and poverty in Nigeria. Sir Winston Churchill, (1874-1965) said, "it's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what is required." The maxim that prevention is better than cure is not in doubt, but if your best is to prevent corruption, then kindly go back to your drawing board and return with an improvement on Ribadu's strategy on recovery of all past loots that are traceable up to present day. This is what is required of you. Your Honor, with due respect and with all humility, any of your strategies that do not include the recovery of all past loots is total deviation from your job description; as such, you may consider stepping aside graciously from this noble assignment as this vision represented in your statement does not resonate with Nigerians.

At this juncture, it becomes apropos to discuss your vision versus your job description because this writer has been in the finance industry for decades. He is a living witness to the transfer of Nigeria's wealth abroad through over invoicing, etc in the early 1980s:

  • Your preventive vision cannot succeed because you cannot control what goes on in the State's Assembly; neither would the laws allow you to meddle in the State's Executive affairs. Furthermore, the nation does not have the database, to enhance the monitoring of individual's assets. Therefore, your vision to cage looters cannot hold. You need not waste the nation's meager resources and time to start a function that cannot stand the test of time. You can only operate with informants as it is at the moment.
  • Your vision to block looted funds being taken outside the country will not hold water. As great as this strategy, it will eventually slow-down international business which is not good for the nation's economy. Mr. Kofi Annan, former United Nation's (UN) scribe made the UN body to endorse the return of loots from the Western world to countries concerned. This negates your impression that, "it's not easy to recover looted funds from foreign bank." This process has been made easy in recent times. All you need do is, make a formal request with your supportive documents to the countries and follow it up. The delay you might get will not come from abroad, but from the office of Nigeria's Attorney General because he (AGF) operates a deceptive rule of law. Please whenever this happens, kindly take the bull by the horn and alert the nation. Be assured that, your creator, Almighty God will never let you go hungry as long as you have the desire to help the poor by reducing corruption in Nigeria.
  • Effective execution of your job description without fear or favor to anyone would bring succor to the Nigerian people as their well-being would be elevated and even those abroad would heave a sigh of relief. It would restore confidence in the Nigerian system. Therefore there would be inflow of capital investments with all its subsequent advantages. More importantly, is the way the outside world perceives Nigerians. Thus, how you determine Nigerian's future attitude will reflect Nigerians altitude when in foreign countries. If the EFCC under your watch fails in their responsibilities, then be rest assured that carriers of the Nigeria's green travel passport would continue to get the worse humiliation across the globe. Don't be hoodwinked that, the External Affairs Ministry can take care of Nigerians abroad. The buck of Nigerian's image abroad stops at your desk.
  • The EFCC has come under your watch at a time when the presidency is headed by erudite people and your office does not report to the Inspector General of Police. Now that your reporting line is no more complicated, your failure on this assignment would make you equal to General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) who is an opprobrium. IBB's singular act of giving back to looters, public properties that were proven as stolen made him (IBB) as the Nigeria leader who legitimize looting and corruption in Nigeria. In an ideal society, members of the Bar Association would have researched their law books to ferret laws to put IBB on trial for such heinous crime against Nigeria. Unfortunately, as the days pass-by, the chances of investigating the past military crooks and their cohorts continue to dip. Your Honor, can't you do something about these past military rogues? That he (IBB) returned looted funds to criminals is not in doubt, so why should he (IBB) go scot-free with that criminal act? The last administration recovered loots beyond year 1999 from the Abachas, so what stops you from doing a good job of recovery beyond 1995?

You're advised to seek a crucial meeting with the Judiciary (the Bench) with a view to determine the way forward on court trials. There is no where on this planet earth with democracy that permits a public servant to have immunity from financial accountability during and after his service.

God bless you.

Tosan Okotie

Texas, United States

July 27, 2008