One strong tool deployed by the newly appointed Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, in securing confirmation of his appointment by the Senate last week Wednesday, was eloquent presentation. TAIYE ODEWALE reports
As it is usually the practice during screening in plenary, when ushered into the Hallowed Chamber of the Senate at about 12:00noon along with his family members, top operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC), federal and state lawmakers from Kebbi state, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa after bowing to greet the Senate President and Senators across party lines, was asked to unveil himself to the Senate.
In doing that, aside his birth and educational acquisition up to Masters Degree level obtained from the Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto; he chronicled all the professional trainings he had undergone in and outside the country since 2004 when he joined the anti – graft agency as one of the pioneer operatives as well as successful operations handled so far, which eminently qualified him for the Executive Chairmanship position of EFCC as nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Little wonder that after the biographical presentation made by Bawa, the Senate was tempted to give him the take a bow and go treatment, going by submissions made to that effect by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo – Agege ( APC Delta Central ).
Omo – Agege had in his comments said : “Mr President and very Distinguished colleagues, if not for the readiness of many of us to ask the nominee questions, I would have moved that we allow him to take a bow and go, going by his very eloquent presentation and intimidating credentials as a thoroughly trained EFCC operative, detective and prosector.
“From the 8th Senate to this 9th one that I’m privileged to be a member, there has been no nominee screened in plenary that had impressed me with eloquent presentation as just done by Mallam Bawa standing before us .
“He is no doubt, a square peg, well prepared for the square hole of the anti – graft body . President Muhammadu Buhari should be commended for this wonderful nomination. The nominee is mentally sound, physically fit and patriotically-driven for better performance as EFCC boss. If it is possible, I won’t mind urging us to ask him to take a bow and go ” .
But the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, quickly interjected by urging Senators to subject the nominee to the required drilling on account of the sensitivity of the position he is nominated to occupy.
Toeing the same line, the leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi ( APC Kebbi North) , in his remarks said being a nominee from his state, he would have moved for take and bow and go option but as an eminently qualified person for the position, he would want questions to be fired at Bawa, which according to him, will further reveal his competence , experience and knowledge for the job .
“Mr President and very Distinguished colleagues, I’m proud to say that President Buhari had made the right choice by bringing one of the best from Kebbi state for us to screen and confirm his appointment .
“Though in his presentation, he has clearly demonstrated his fitness in all ramifications for the job but we from Kebbi state, will still want our colleagues to ask him questions, out of which we certainly believed, will further convince all and sundry, that the much awaited round peg , has been found for the round hole of EFCC’s Executive Chairmanship position “, he said.
Thereafter from the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe ( PDP Abia South), to the Deputy Whip of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi ( APC Niger North) , questions upon questions seeking for clarifications on alleged past misconducts or not well qualified for the position in terms of length of service etc, were fired at Bawa which were convincingly answered .
For the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate , Ike Ekweremadu ( PDP Enugu West ) and Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos Central), admonitions against stepping on banana peels that led to unceremonious exits of his predecessors, were what they gave to the young and energetic Bawa as EFCC boss .
Specifically, Senator Ekweremadu in giving the admonition said: ” “You’re not going to be the first Chairman of EFCC, you know the circumstances that led to the unceremonious exits of most of your predecessors. You know how they ended.
“You know that they came out of the EFCC and became like ordinary citizens, and of course, you know that at the end of their lives , they’ll meet their creator to account for their actions.
“So, I’m going to advise you to rather learn from those mistakes those ones made, because ultimately your tenure would end and then you’ll be like any of us.
“I’d like to advise you, because you’ve been there, to check those mistakes they made, in both the operations, their human relations, the way they did their job, how they responded to people, and of course, how they carried their responsibilities”.
The eloquent and knowledgeable Bawa in his response to series of questions fired at him said : “Proactive approach rather than reactive one, shall be adopted by EFCC under me as Executive Chairman if confirmed by this Distinguished Senate because there is difference between fighting corrupt people and fighting corruption.
“We are looking forward to an EFCC that where I, as the Chairman , gives a subordinate an assignment, he will be confident to tell me, Mr. chairman, I understand your instruction, but due to the laws, I cannot carry out this order because of this or that section of the law.
“We hope that if confirmed by this Senate, we are going to be more transparent and be more accountable and fair to all.
“We hope if given opportunity, my colleagues and I will embark on the digitalization of the processes of the EFCC, in essence, what I am saying is that we are going to keep our records so that as at when due and it will just be a matter of pressing the buttons.
“On repositioning, the backbone of every organisation is in its human resource, I hope and pray that we will still come back to this chamber for better appropriation to enable us build the capacity of our staff at the EFCC, to meet up new typology and strains of crimes to have a society that is crime free.
“Today, the EFCC has an academy, we need to work on it; we need to re-organise it to meet the challenges of crime fighting in our current world”.
On aleged sale of trucks at Port Harcourt as a Zonal Head , he said : “”Anybody that is familiar with the processes and workings of the EFCC would know that even the Executive Chairman of the EFCC doesn’t have the powers to dispose off a single asset.
“That responsibilities lies with the office of the Secretary of the Commission. I am starting from that end to confirm to Nigerians through this Senate, that as the Zonal head of the EFCC, never for once, sold a single asset in Port Harcourt. I never did.
“The then Secretary of the Commission together with three directors and other staff from the headquarters flew in to Port Harcourt and disposed off the trucks and other assets in them that were forfeited to the Federal Government, sequel to our singular effort as part of the reformation that I brought to the Port Harcourt zonal office”.
On being qualified for the position or not , he said: ” “I am qualified to be the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The provisions of the Constitution is very clear. It says that the person to be so appointed as Chairman should be a serving or retired security or law enforcement personnel or officer.
“The question is, ‘I’m I a law enforcement officer?, Yes I am, because by the provisions of Section 8(5) which states that officers of the EFCC in the discharge of their duties have all the powers authorities, privileges and immunities of the police officer.
“The second issue is that the officer to be so nominated must have 15 years cognate experience in law enforcement. I have been in EFCC since 2004 till date. I am well over 15 years as a law enforcement officer.
“The third issue is that the officer to be appointed should not be below an Assistant Commissioner of Police or its equivalent. I am not a police officer but the equivalent of my rank is that of Assistant Commissioner of Police”.
With satisfactory and convincing responses to all questions fired at him, the Senate accordingly confirmed his appointment at exactly 2:15pm after over two hours of drilling .
But the question now is, will Bawa walk his talks as EFCC Chairman by repositioning the agency for better performance in its war against corruption and not ending up like most of his predecessors?
Time will definitely tell.