By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Nigeria’s former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has branded former Chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri, as a liar for saying that she was fired from office because of her probe of some oil racketeers.
But the former President said Waziri was sacked based on Nigeria’s interest and global standing.
A statement issued by Ikechukwu Eze, Media Adviser to Jonathan on Monday said the former president read media reports credited to Waziri, in which she claimed in her new book that she was removed from because of her probe of some oil racketeers.
“We thought we had dealt with this matter, after promptly debunking similar statements she made in the past. In 2017 when she claimed that she lost her job because she “refused to back down from the probe of one of the masterminds of the fuel subsidy scam”, we quickly refuted and clarified the claim for the records, and even challenged her to name the individual or company in question.
“We had expected that a book from Mrs. Farida, coming years after the claim was first made, should have towed the path of honour by telling the truth for the benefit of history. Unfortunately, that still didn’t happen. It will be recalled that after assuming office as President on May 6, 2010, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan decided to retain Mrs. Waziri, who was appointed by his predecessor, late President Umaru Yar’Adua, as the head of the elite anti-crime agency.
“Despite obvious disenchantment from many Nigerians and mounting international pressure against Mrs. Waziri’s continued stay in office, the former President stood by her, in line with his conviction that every public officer should first be given the opportunity to deliver on his or her mandate.
“It must be pointed out that former President Jonathan had no personal issues with Mrs. Waziri. The former President had to eventually let her go in the national interest. Her removal therefore has a lot to do with reasons relating to Nigeria’s interest and global standing which details Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is obliged to keep as state secret in our common national interest. It is very important to note that when dealing with the interest of the nation and the performance of the functions of a public office, a determined leader cannot prioritise the interest of an individual,” the statement said.
According to the statement, it therefore bore repeating here that Waziri’s removal as chairperson of EFCC had absolutely nothing to do with her purported refusal to desist from probing any oil individual, saying this claim sounded rather superficial and contradicted available evidence of the then government’s genuine efforts to combat oil subsidy racketeering.
The statement said it was noteworthy that throughout Jonathan’s tenure, he made practical efforts to combat the alleged oil cabals, including directing the stoppage of further payment of fuel subsidy claims to oil importers, and the setting up of the Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede-led committee which had high level representation from all the intelligence agencies, including the EFCC, with a mandate to thoroughly investigate the scandals in the industry.
“The choice of Aig-Aigboje, a man widely acclaimed for his dependability, as leader of the committee, was a clear demonstration that the President had no personal interest in the matter. Those who choose to continue to rue, like Mrs. Waziri, over the loss of public positions should realise that such a position, which is a public trust, is not an entitlement.
“They are usually given to individuals to provide service to the people. Public officers should therefore see such transitions as their own personal sacrifice to the nation. It is in this light that Mrs. Farida Waziri should view her removal from office. It was nothing personal. It was everything patriotic,” the statement stated.