Background of the Study
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is one of the most acclaimed anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria saddled with the responsibility of fighting and reducing the rate of political corruption (financial crimes) in Nigeria. Over the years, their activities and performance have raised unending debate and intellectual controversies on whether they have actually performed or not based on the accomplishment of their statutory mandate since their creation. Hence, there is no agreement among scholars and commentators on the performance of EFCC. Consequently, two contending intellectual divided or schools of thought have emerged to explain the nature and character of the EFCC and how their performance have affected the state over the years in terms of reducing the rate of corruption or not. The first is the bourgeois school while the second is the radical school of thought.
Essentially, the bourgeois scholars believe that the EFCC is instituted to curb the menace of corruption in Nigeria. According to them, EFCC has succeeded in accomplishing its statutory mandate by fighting and reducing the rate of corruption involving financial crimes in Nigeria. One of the proponents of the bourgeois scholars, Babafemi, in Alli (2010:1) observed that the EFCC is an enduring institution that is better equipped to deal with all forms of economic crimes in a way that will impact and enhance positively a sustainable national development. He further observes that since June 2008, when Mrs. Farida Waziri assumed office, she had been doing a lot with her team to break records and surpass past records. That in both administrative and operational angles, EFCC has placed several measures and strategies to chart a new course for the anti-graft agency, but has equally and painstakingly commenced processes of revitalization, restructuring, re-orientation, repositioning and re-building among others to build an institution around structures and processes rather than individuals. In line with the above, other bourgeois scholars believe that EFCC, as an agency established to fight corruption has indeed taken up the gauntlet in reducing the rate of political corruption in Nigeria. For them, generally, EFCC has made tremendous success in accomplishing its mandate in terms of fighting and reducing the rate of corruption in Nigeria.
On the other hand, the radical scholars are of the view that EFCC has not accomplished its objectives in terms of curbing the menace of political corruption. For them, EFCC has failed, it is seen as an instrument in the hands of the ruling class to fight and dominate its oppositions whose interest is not in conformity with that of the ruling class. On of the laudable proponent of the radical scholars, Adamu (2005:1) opined, reading “EFCC: justice, not politically persecuted”, by one Yashau Shaib and published in the punch newspaper of January 9, 2006, that:
I am compelled to make a comment. I wonder how one can commend government for the establishment of agencies and institutions whose creation is questionable. What is government’s ulterior motive behind the establishment of those agencies? But since we are in a democracy, we can’t do without having diverse opinions.
Though the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, by some of its policies, might seem to love the values of democracy, It is quite glaring that it is afraid of its principles. For example, when the president instituted the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) many Nigerians applauded his effort. The hope of Nigerians then was that all those who had hand in the looting of the nation’s treasury, thus depriving ordinary Nigerians their share of the national cake, would be brought to book, irrespective of their social, economic and political stand. While commending the acts of former police IG, Tafa Balogun, and the impeached governor of Bayelsa state, Dr. Die preye Alamieyesiegha, in their totality, events around the EFCC have clearly shown that it is nothing more than a tool with which the government hunts and persecutes its political opponents.” Generally, the radical scholars believe that the EFCC has not accomplished its statutory mandate; rather it is served as a tool of persecution of oppositions in the hands of the ruling class.
For us, EFCC’s performance has not addressed the problems for which it was created. Thus, we attribute this poor performance of the EFCC to certain environmental conditions which influence their performance in terms of accomplishing its statutory mandate in reducing the rate of political corruption in Nigeria. Such environmental conditions that impede EFCC’s performance include Dual legitimacy of criminality and the irony or paradox o fighting corruption by corrupt individuals. It is assumed that one does not make laws against his own will. Unless these environmental conditions change, EFCC performance will not change from what it is at present. However, form the other side of the variables of this study; we will not fail to understand that corruption is a necessary condition that gave birth to the establishment of the EFCC and ICPC. Corruption is not a recent phenomenon that pervades the Nigerian state. In all ramifications, it is one fundamental problem confronting Nigeria today. Particularly, political corruption has manifested in various means such as embezzlements, mismanagement, nepotism, military coups, looting of public treasury, bribery, vote buying and other abuses of office etc. Nigeria has been independent for 50 years now and recently celebrated her Golden Jubilee anniversary, which in my own opinion was a celebration of poverty in plenty and continual success in dominance of the group that captured the state shortly after independent.
Nigeria had experimented about seven military and five civilian administrations since independence and the high incidences of corruption in about all sectors in the country pose a serious threat to development efforts in Nigeria. Since the creation of modern public administration in the country, there have been cases of official misuse of resources for personal enrichment. Hence, the rise of public administration and the discovery of oil and natural gas are two major events seen to have led to a litany ignoble corrupt practices in the country. Over the years, the country has seen its wealth withered with little to show in living conditions of the average human being. Following the stupendous oil wealth, comes political corruption, mismanagement and incompetence in government. Corruption brought about instability, insecurity, and failure of institutions. Hence, politics in Nigeria has become a do or die affair since political power is now a strategy for stealing public funds. For instance, it is common practice for top government jobs to be filled with cronies who serve as conduit for siphoning public funds to foreign accounts.
As Dudley noted, that political power provides a rare opportunity to acquire wealth and prestige to be able to distribute jobs, contracts, gift of money, etc, to allies (Dudley, 1982: 30-31). The implication of Dudley’s argument is that the communities and relatives of the politicians who control political power support the stealing that is prevalent in the political system since they are directly or indirectly, the beneficiaries of such political corruption. Indeed, corruption is dangerous and inimical to the systemic existence of any polity.
It is socio-political, economic and moral malaise that may permeate and cripple, as a result of its contagiousness and malignancy, the nerves of any polity. It is an intolerable characteristic that should be discouraged in governance because once it sets into any part; it automatically contaminates all the strata of the system’s multidimensional hierarchy in ways symmetrical to the spread of a bush fire (Akindele, 1995:37).
Equally, Ifesinachi (2003:27), captured these debilitating effects of corruption in terms of the argument on the prevalent social values, corruption appears to have overthrown and defined commonsense and logic both in the public and private realm in some African States like Nigeria. It is in recognition and the effort to stem these ugly trends that the Obasano’s administration had responded by lunching a number of campaigns and strategies against corruption. Meanwhile, despite the laudable measure and strategies by the Obasanjo’s administration to curb corruption, the concerns of various eminent citizens and scholars in the country and outside is that the previous regime left a horrendous stinking legacy of covering up for current and potential looters of Nigerian treasury since it is those who set up the regulatory institutions are still the same people that loot the public treasury.
The implication of this scenario is that the regulatory institutions will be ineffective and weak. These facts have necessitated the background to the emergent of this research, which we shall try to accomplish through the study of one of the mostly acclaimed anti-corruption institutions, the Economic and financial crime commission (EFCC), and how far their activities have hindered or helped to curb the incidence of political corruption in Nigeria.
Statement of Problem
Political corruption is the major challenge facing Nigeria today, and its debilitating ancillaries such as graft, nepotism, embezzlement, looting, abuse of office, etc. These factors have stunned the growth of the country in all areas of her endeavors. In order to curb the menace cause by political corruption in Nigeria, former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2002, instituted the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), after other attempts to stem corruption had been proven abortive. Abumere, quoted in Ezeani and Elekwa (2006:339), recollected that President Obasanjo had declared in his inaugural speech on May 29, 1999 that “corruption, the greatest bane of our society today will be tackled head on at all levels and there will be no sacred cows; nobody, no matter who and where, will be allowed to get away with the perpetuation of corruption”. Meanwhile in today’s experience, the reverse seemed to be the case. Observation proves that corrupt public personnel are usually convicted when they have a contradicting interest with the power that be.
Furthermore, political corruption is pervasive in Nigeria and has been institutionalized such that not only that, officials are corrupt, but corruption is official (Clark, 1995:125). Corruption has taken different forms and shapes in Nigeria such as endemic planned and developmental corruption (1991:47), to comment with obvious impatience that these forms of corruption, notably; endemic, planned and developmental corruption is a classic vicious circle capable of destroying Nigeria completely.
However, the effect of political corruption in any given society can never be over-emphasized, especially as in the case of contemporary Nigeria where political corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of our national life and where political power is used to expropriate loot and plunder public wealth. Public officials seek to extend undue favour to their Kith and kin as well as their political loyalists. Worse still, the Nigerian state is deeply immersed in political corruption (Okolie, 2003:338). Despite the enormous and detailed investigations conducted into this work, there still exist hitherto some gap, lapse and unanswered questions by scholars and commentators to which this research hopes to address and therefore, add to the incremental body of knowledge and debates towards finding a viably inbuilt mechanism which can effectively checkmate the incidence of political corruption and fraudulent financial transactions within the public sector. Thus, there are two major strands of analysis which help to explain our problematique.