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Date Published: 08/31/10

'An Open Letter to EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri' - A Reply By Abubakar Othman

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The Daily Trust of Thursday, August 19 th 2010 (p.12) published the above captioned article written by one Malam Garba Tela of Tashan Dukku Gombe, Gombe State. In the letter Tela claims that Farida Waziri’s husband was an anointed candidate of Governor Danjuma Goje for the Senatorial by-election in Gombe South scheduled for the week end. He describes it as an “ingratiating gesture” by the Governor to compromise her on the on-going investigation involving the governor’s son-in-law, and also to secure the Governor’s security after leaving office due to the many petitions against him. Hence, in the letter, Tela placed Mrs.Waziri on trial for the political situation in Gombe State, and using an analogy with an imaginary trial in a work of fiction, Tela judged her guilty and recommended that she vacates her office as the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The letter was beautifully written in a lapidary style that demonstrates Tela’s knowledge of the rules of argumentative writing and the use of analogy in literary discourse. Indeed, reading the letter one would think that Tela is a professor of Advanced Composition but for his address which suggests that he is Dan Tasha.

This reply, however, is not to join issues with Tela over his spurious views but to reiterate Mrs. Waziri’s integrity profile and high moral values, and her determination to pursue the fight against corruption and corrupt Politicians in spite of detractions by character assassins and irritants such as Malam Garba Tela. Of course, Tela’s letter is just one out of many churned out by her detractors in the last two weeks, being the period when some big time economic fraudsters and political desperadoes were facing their baptism by fire in the hands of the EFCC. The tone, content and intent of Tela’s letter very much resemble those other frivolous write ups, giving one enough reason to imagine a cabal of paranoid corrupt politicians and fraudulent business executives sitting in session like Shakespear’s witches in Macbeth planning how to get rid of this sworn enemy of corruption, Chief (Mrs) Farida Waziri, now standing sentinel at the gate to political power. One could also imagine an irritant Tela sitting in the meeting as one of the hired character assassins, taking minutes of the meeting to develop them into newspaper articles and letters for the campaign of calumny against this rare breed woman of impeccable character and tenacity of will.

To contextualize his trial of Mrs. Farida Waziri, Tela excused his readers to beat about the bush by going into Ali Mazrui’s work of fiction; The trials of Christopher Okigbo. According to him, beating about the bush may bring the grass so low that Mrs.Waziri could see clearly the goings-on in the political landscape of Gombe and her role therein. Unfortunately, because Tela’s argument are spurious and lack the power to convince, he could not beat down the grass low but, instead, ruffles the bushes causing more detractions and confusion. In comparing Mazrui’s novel to the political landscape of Gombe, Tela fails to tell us specifically who in the political scenario is compared to whom among those on trial in the novel. Again, in trying Mrs. Waziri’s moral strength through the trial of Okigbo in the novel, he misunderstood the reason for which Okigbo is being tried and therefore judged and sentenced Mrs. Waziri wrongly.

In the novel, Okigbo is not on trial for refusing the poetry award given to him in Dakar because it was tagged “negroid” only to come back home and die for a tribal course. On the contrary, Okigbo is on trial because he dropped the pen to pick the gun, thus sacrificing the unique universal humanism of poetry which he embodies for the parochial humanism of ethnicity which the Igbo civil war encapsulated and for which course he died. The fact that all witnesses in the trial are poets from Africa and Europe, both classical and modern, is a symbolification of the universalism and timelessness of poetry, and the transcendentalism of the poet’s humanism. The trial, therefore, is philosophical not political, the witnesses are metaphors not similes; hence the analysis of the novel is not amenable to beating about the bush for a self serving political analogy.

However, unlike Okigbo in the novel, the EFCC Chairman is a detribalised Nigerian who is above petty primordial politics. To think that she can sacrifice her hard earned qualities of honesty, discipline and moral tenacity for that “Ingratiating gesture” of anointing her husband as Senator (to serve for only three months) does not just portray Tela as narrow minded and juvenile in reasoning, but also a painful reminder to us all that we still have people like Tela hibernating in chauvinistic politics.

If Farida waziri were such a chicken to go pecking pebbles in the dirty courtyards of politicians, the prestige and power of her office is enough to take her to more expansive courtyards littered with pebbles of gold and silver rather than the narrow courtyards of Gombe politics. If her husband were such an article of trade and her office a market place, she would have traded him for a much higher price than that of a three months Senator. If she were inclined to such cheap nepotism the EFCC would have been flooded by people from Benue State by now. Farida is a fanatic when it comes to honesty and transparency. And because she is honest to a fault, and deeply Godly, she can work even with her enemies without let or hindrance.

At this point let me express a personal opinion on Gombe State. I am not an indigene of Gombe State but I know the situation there. Comparatively speaking, Gombe State has a better leadership than all the other five States of the North East. There is no where in the North East, indeed in the entire North, where you can find a well established and well staffed university like the one in Gombe State. Gombe State University is far better in infrastructure, staff and Curriculum than any of the third generation Universities in the region. Gombe state is the only State in the region that can boast of a State owned Airport fully equipped and optimally functional. Gombe State has the best water supply network in the region, providing portable and healthy water for domestic consumption. As we are talking now, all the states surrounding Gombe are being devastated by cholera epidemic because their Governments did not provide the citizens with clean portable water. The fact that Gombe remained invulnerable even while the epidemic rages and ravages its neigbouring states of Bauchi, Yobe and Borno is enough to tell you that there is good leadership in Gombe.

These achievements of the Gombe state government may not insulate governor from corrupt tendencies, but again they stand him out as a better leader than his colleagues. Therefore, Goje may have a higher moral ground than others that he need not go the extra mile to make any ‘ingratiating gestures” for fear of his security after leaving office.

However, there is no Governor in this country that is absolutely clean, including governor Goje. Therefore, like any other Governor in the country Goje may have one or two cases against him, especially with alarmists like Tela in Gombe state. But that does not warrant the parochialism you displayed in your letter, where you reduced the Executive Chairman of the EFCC to the low level of Gombe Politics, by telling her that ‘Gov. Goje has, by nominating your hubby, paid your price”. Her husband may be an issue for bible-babble by lesser minds like you in Gombe politics, but it would amount to effrontery and uncharitable behaviour to address Chief (Mrs) Farida Waziri in the manner you did. If you have no respect for her as a wife to one of your great sons, at least you must respect her as a detribalised Nigerian woman, an honest leader, a great achiever, who served the Nigeria Police in various capacities without blemish, and joyfully retired as an Assistant Inspector General of Police. She is one whose transparency and honesty earned her the leadership of the EFCC, and one whom the Federal Government could not but endorse her sterling qualities of patriotism by honouring her with the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, CFR.

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