To every discerning observer of the polity, the removal of Mrs Farida Waziri as the boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, last Wednesday did not come as a surprise. The only element of surprise is that it took the Goodluck administration this long before firing her.
Right from the time Jonathan mounted the saddle as the countryâ€™s substantive president after the death of Umaru Yar Adua, close associates and supporters of the president have left no one in doubt they were unimpressed with the way Waziri was running the anti-graft agency.
They not only accused Waziri of being selective in her campaign against corruption, they also branded her a weakling who had failed to sustain the momentous fight against corruption left behind by her predecessor, Nuhu Ribadu.
These, coupled with Waziriâ€™s tango with the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Adoke Mohammed, over prosecution of cases by the EFCC made Waziri an orphan in the administration and her removal was only a matter of time.
Irrespective of the reasons adduced by the government for the removal of Waziri, it is our considered opinion that the administration needs to do more to reposition the agency for effective fight against the hydra-headed monster called corruption in the land. It is our belief that as desirable as the removal of the EFCC boss is, the government needs to address the institutional problems bedevilling the agency.
Removing Waziri will not solve the agencyâ€™s long standing problems. What is required at this stage of the EFCC is to take a wholesome look at the institutionÂ and initiate serious reforms to make the fight agaist corruption effective.
We need to take another look at the system which gives the president the power to appoint and remove the head of the anti corruption body. The fight against corruption can only be effective if those charged with the fight are independent and immune from executive interference.
We say this because corruption is largely perpetrated by government officials and it will be difficult to bring these officials to book if operatives of the EFCC can be removed by those in government.
We suggest that the agency become independent and its head selected by the judiciary from untainted judges or police officers, serving or retired .
The appointmentÂ of the EFCC chairman should not be subjected to the whims and caprices of the president.
We hope that Waziriâ€™s removal was not another gimmick to fool the international community of investors that the present administration was serious in fighting corruption when the facts on the ground do not justify this.
It is our plea that the just appointed acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde should be given a chance to succeed. Knowing his pedigree as a former director of operations of the highly acclaimed former EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu, he is expected to give the anti graft body the necessary verve to a successful war against corruption.