Former president Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday said that the two anti-graft agencies he created during his tenure were politicised by his successors.
The agencies are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Obasanjo stated this at this year’s annual public lecture of the Dorcas Oke Hope Alive Initiative (DOHA). Dorcas is the late daughter of the founder of the Sword of the Spirit Ministries, Bishop Wale Oke, who died as a result of fake drugs.
In his lecture entitled: ‘Corruption and the challenge of the African child’, Obasanjo recalled that his administration created the EFCC and ICPC based on his commitment to fighting corruption. But he expressed regret that the two agencies became politicized after his tenure which weakened their ability to battle corruption.
His words: “To fight corruption, we must strengthen our law enforcement and justice system and encourage them to complement each other in the fight against corruption. When I was elected president in 1999, my administration took the issue of corruption very seriously and we established anti corruption agencies like the EFCC and ICPC.
“They were provided with political support needed to fight corruption and they did their best. But after we left office, they became politicised and weakened to a level that they were unable to provide their services. In fact, one of the governors who was jailed for corruption, was supposed to find replacement for EFCC boss then Nuhu Ribadu. You know the type of replacement he would bring.
“We must strengthen these institutions especially in carrying out prosecution but government alone cannot fight corruption. It is very disheartening when the law enforcement agency carefully investigates a case and the culprit finds his way around the judiciary to escape. Corrupt people and accomplices must be punished. We cannot afford to have sacred cows in the fight against corruption.”
The former president said youths are the ones bearing the brunt of corruption in Nigeria. He described them as vulnerable and defenceless.
He posited that Dorcas’ death was a direct result of corruption in Nigeria’s health sector. He said the youths in Nigeria now believe that the easiest way to get rich is to get government job.
His words: “The evil of men in authority has made living in the world very challenging for all but particularly for young people. Young people are the worst victims of social ills such as corruption and bad leadership which seem to characterise our world today.
“A former American president once said that when older men declare war, it is the youth that must fight and die. The youths substantially bear the brunt of the misconduct and misbehaviour of the elders. They pay for the sins they do not commit. While I am not saying that older men commit all the evil deeds of the world, it is important to stress that young people, because of their vulnerability and dependence on the decisions of older people, are always the majority to bear the brunt of bad leadership, bad decisions, bad families, bad society, bad politics, policies and governance.
“The young Dorcas Oke, bore the brunt of the bad leadership of our society. She was full of life and aspiration but they were cut short by deliberate actions or inaction of the people in health system, that is riddled with corruption. She died because some corrupt persons in the sector succeeded in selling adulterated drugs which killed her. Someone whose job it was to monitor and maintain standards failed to stop the adulterated drugs from entering our markets. The story of Dorcas is just one among many others that buttress the claim that corruption kills.
“In Nigeria today, there is high perception among the young people that getting a government job is a guaranteed way of making easy money. Our youths are aware of the corruption that is prevalent in public and private sector. Sadly, many youths look forward to it as their turn to eat because they have no better alternative.”
The former president said that the problems of Africa were inflicted by the leaders because of their choice.
He cited the example of the Boko Haram scourge, saying the founders were triggered to start the sect because of what they perceived as corrupt practices of the Western educated ruling elite who deprive the people of basic needs of life.
He said: “From my theses and research into insecurity in the North-East of Nigeria, what I found was most alarming. One of the reasons given by Boko Haram at their inception is that when they saw how corrupt their Western educated leaders were, they said if those who occupy government offices by virtue of their Western education could corruptly enrich themselves and deprive others of basic things of life, then that education is haram, which means forbidden.
“I was told that when the group gathered under the late leader of the group, Mohammed Yusuf, they first tore their certificates because they feared that a certificate that could not fetch them a source of livelihood is useless to them. Similarly, they saw Western education as corrupting individuals,” noted Obasanjo.
“We may not agree with their position but it is the disillusion of the citizens over the inadequacy or poor performance of their leaders. Therefore, there is a direct correlation between corruption and youth healthy development,” he added.