Magu, Saraki And The Cost Of Hubris

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Today, the Senate expectedly torpedoed Ibrahim Magu’s hope of confirmation as substantive boss of the Economic and financial Crimes commission(EFCC)

Like our late inimitable Afrobeat legend, Fela would say the Magu-Senate face-off is one roforofo fight that will have Nigerians watching with rapt attention. As we say in these parts, Magu put his hand in the rump of the Tortoise and the crafty animal has closed it with a ferocity that has Magu’s fingers tingling.

With DG DSS, Lawal Daura and the Senate on one side against the EFCC boss and stopping him in his tracks for the second time in three months, Magu may need to exhaust his remaining seven lives having lost two to the rugged combination against him.

You see in this country, fighting corruption the way Magu is going about it is like entering into the ring to fight Mike Tyson with one hand tied behind your back or climbing the iroko with your two legs tied together.

To succeed in fighting corruption in Nigeria, you must first understand what you are up against and then diligently fashion a winning strategy. It is not about grandstanding or “eye service”. Painstaking investigation and circumspection in assemblage of facts and evidence, will always trump grandstanding and media trials. When you grandstand, your boss may be happy with you and Nigerians may feel you are doing a good job; that may be a morale booster but in the final analysis, it won’t secure convictions.

Who talks about Abdulmumin Jibrin today? The youngman drew attention to what he felt was fraudulent practice being perpetrated by the leadership of the House of Representatives but what happened? He found himself in the lurch with the Speaker and others he accused of corruption still sitting pretty. At a point, his party, called him and advised him to tone down his exuberance or gra, gra as we call it here in Nigeria

That’s the way the cookie crumbles here. In Nigeria, corruption is king. As we say in our local parlance, “corruption don wear jacket enter town” and it cannot be stopped by bland preachments or grandstanding. People who amass wealth illegally over time, establish a thriving network of lackeys, enforcers and public officials who form a protective cordon around them. They cannot be upended by the type of tactics Magu and his men have been using, which have exposed them to an almost violent counterattack from the looters of our commonwealth.

If Magu somehow manages to get the job, he should seriously consider changing tack in his engagement of corrupt individuals. It is good for instance to discover millions of dollars in a decrepit apartment or millions of naira at an airport; it encourages people to think the fight is being won but is public announcement of such finds really the best approach? Would I for instance, if I had millions stashed away somewhere not be alerted by the announcement and speedily move to prevent seizure of my loot? Can Magu and his men not work stealthily and inexorably catch these criminals unawares?

Magu has been the architect of his misfortunes, his acts of hubris have attracted for him so much ill-will in the realms of power. In his exuberance and haste to please, he forgot Machiavelli’s timeless warning that, “anyone who believes that new benefits make men of high station forget old injuries, is deceiving himself”.

Magu took on Bukola Saraki and exposed him along with his wife to ridicule and Saraki was not going to forget that. In taking on a man of Saraki’s station, Magu should have been armed to inflict lasting injury, incapacitating him to the point he would not pose a threat. This was what Machiavelli meant when he advised that:

“In taking a state, its conqueror should weigh all the harmful things he must do and do them all at once so as not to repeat them everyday”.

Magu knocked Saraki down but did not move in for kill and today he is being counterattacked by the Senate President.

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