Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has attacked the Economic and Financial CrimesCommission, EFCC, which he described as a toothless bulldog.Obasanjo said, though the anti-graft body became dreaded during the time of the pioneer Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, it has become a toothless bulldog. While speaking, yesterday, during his 79th birthday celebration, held at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the former Nigerian leader wondered what had happened to the anti-graft agency that led to its present status. According to him, gone were the days when the people believed that “the fear of Nuhu Ribadu is the beginning of wisdom”. The former President, however, advised the Buhari government and stakeholders to take a critical look at the situation that made the agency lose its power to tame corruption and avoid it. He said government must avoid any action that could make the agency take a step forward and three steps backward. Obasajo said, “Honestly, when Nuhu was handling EFCC, he handled it in such a way that people coined the saying that ‘ the fear of Nuhu Ribadu is the beginning of wisdom ‘ and then the question you will ask is, how did we go down? How did we lose that? “Nuhu Ribadu is still here, he’s still alive. The institution we started together is still there, but what made the institution to become a toothless bulldog? What? And that’s the matter we have to keep looking at, so that we don’t take two steps forward, one step aside and three steps back.” While speaking on the need for government to develop technology to fight insurgency and extremism, Obasanjo said if insurgent groups could develop technology to promote their cause, it is imperative to adopt the same method to stem the tide. The former President, who traced insurgency to lack of fairness and justice all over the world, blamed institutions, including religious bodies, for failing in their responsibilities towards having a safer society.
He said, “The world is interested in what can be done to stem the tide and I think what we did, yesterday, we made our own contribution in a way that we believe will serve our country, serve our sub-region, West Africa; our region of Africa and indeed the world we live in. “I summarize that the solution lies in six areas: At home, the community, the church/mosque, the school/college, the state-local, state and federal government – and the international community. At each of these, we should do things and not leave undone what we should do. “Therefore, people have or they see perceived injustice or perceived grievance and they try to react but, as I said, yesterday, when you have to treat violent extremism and radicalization as an issue, then it costs you more; what we should do, which will be cost effective, wise and cheaper, is to prevent and, if we do what we should do at all those areas, we should be able to prevent. “One of the things we now have to take seriously is technology because technology impacts on our daily life; it’s built in our homes; it’s in our pocket, and if there are those who want to do anything to make life unbearable for us in terms of security, then we must also use technology as the antidote and the means by which we can ward off what they may want to do against us”. Meanwhile, Ministers of Science and Technology and Transportation, Ogonnaya Onu and Rotimi Amaechi, respectively, described the former President as an institution, a gift to Nigeria and a detribalized Nigerian. Onu said, “Obasanjo is a man who has become an institution, a special gift that God gave to Nigeria. At every time the nation faces challenges , God has used Obasanjo to get out of the problem and there are so many paths to this unique personality.” The Senate Minority Leader and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, described Obasanjo as a man who loves justice, adding that the ruling class believes in his leadership, vision and prophesy. Akpabio recalled how he defeated 57 aspirants during the primary that earned him the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in his state, and how many stakeholders were bribed to stand against him except Obasanjo and some party leaders.
The Senate President, represented at the occasion by the senator representing Ogun Central, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, announced the donation of his March salary and that of Akpabio to the Center for Human Security, a brain child of OOPL. Other dignitaries at the event include Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State; the acting Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Segun Oni; former governors of Osun, Cross River and Adamawa States, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Liyel Imoke and Bala Ngilari, respectively. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who donated N25 million to the Center for Human Security, was represented by the Chairman of Board of Trustees, American University of Nigeria, Akin Kerere-Ekun, while the governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, were also represented .