When former President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Dora Akunyili as director-general of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, in April 2001, Akunyili started to reform the institution from a docile agency that very few in Nigeria knew about to a very active one with world recognition.
It is instructive to note that the reforms she carried out at NAFDAC with the support of the then President, Obasanjo was not because the president asked her to reform the agency, but it was because of her passion and love for her country.
She carried out her duties diligently without caring whose ox was gored. She made a lot of Nigerians to be conscious of NAFDAC and its activities. Nigerians began to check for expiry dates on products they wanted to buy, especially drugs.
NAFDAC became the most popular government agency during her spell there. There were many directors of agencies and heads of parastatals during her stint but Akunyili purposed in her heart to distinguish herself from the crowd just like Daniel in the Holy Bible “who purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s meat”.
Former President Obasanjo, gave the same instruction he gave to Akunyili to other members of his government; the difference is that Akunyili saw it as a responsibility and a rare opportunity to solve a challenge Nigeria was plagued with.
Enter Ibrahim Magu, a former director of operations at Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and now the acting EFCC chairman. I see it as a mockery of the intelligence of Nigerians, to say that it is because of Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption stance that commission started doing their already established work of going after corrupt Nigerians.
It simply means that the EFCC is telling Nigerians that once President Buhari is done with his tenure and the next president is not anti-corruption inclined, then their job will be left undone!
Lack of strong institutions seems to be the major problem with the Nigerian system, everybody is waiting for their leader to tell them to do their work, not minding the fact that their salary is statutory. That explains the reason why everything seemed to be on standstill during the last year of Yar’Adua as president. Until the “doctrine of necessity” was deployed as a political solution to make then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan the acting president.
US President Barack Obama once said that Africa needs strong institutions and not strong leaders. It goes to say that once we have strong institutions, Nigerians would not be too bothered about the posture of the president, because institutions will function properly whether the president is interested or not.
It is obvious to everyone in Nigeria that the EFCC will go back to sleep once Buhari leaves office, which should not be the case.
EFCC has not been successful in prosecuting corrupt government officials, simply because the anti-graft agency have been building a house from the roof downwards, instead of building from the foundation upwards.
The Ibrahim Magu-led EFCC has been prosecuting suspected corrupt government officials in the media, instead of gathering enough evidence first. We all know that after all the media trial, you still have to go to court to prove your case and sadly that is when EFCC starts to gather evidence. An accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The way forward is for Ibrahim Magu to order his “troops” to stop all the media trial that takes no one to jail, EFCC should gather enough evidence and assemble a good prosecuting team before heading to court.
It is foolishness to continue to apply the same method that has yielded no positive result and be expecting things to change.
Magu should focus on building EFCC into a strong institution just like Akunyili did with NAFDAC.
Nigeria can have strong institutions once people in authority and citizens alike take it as a responsibility to do the right thing irrespective of the posture of the President in power.
Chuka Igwegbe writes from Awka, Anambra State. He can be reached by email HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.