The Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks has urged President Muhammad Buhari to disregard and completely ignore the calls for the sack of the EFCC chairman by paid protesters.
The CSOs passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of Abdulrasheed Bawa of the EFCC and expressed readiness to continue to support the Commission in the discharge of its constitutional mandate.
The group at a news conference held in Kano on Thursday and addressed by Ambassador Ibrahim A. Waiya, President, Kano Civil Society Forum, alleged that the protesters are being sponsored by a State Governor that himself and immediate family members are enmeshed in alleged corruption.
‘’We, the members of the Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks, wish to encourage the leadership of EFCC to continue on its current path of chasing the corrupt elements in and within the power irrespective of tribe, religion and region to rid our country of corruption, and to bring them to book,’’ Waiya said.
‘’And we equally encourage the Commission to continue to uphold the best practices of professionalism and neutrality, and also to implore the Commission to continue to remain focused and should not allow itself to be distracted by noisemakers and politically motivated sentiments. While EFCC currently focuses keenly on ensuring effective trail and arrest of currency speculators and those who stashed funds for illicit purposes, we call on the attention of EFCC leadership to be alert on the after-currency naira redesigned effects, to avoid hoarding of the new notes and other misgivings by financial institutions and politicians across the country.’’
‘’We wish to call on President Muhammad Buhari to disregard and completely ignore the calls for the sack of the EFCC chairman by the paid protesters as it is being sponsored by a State Governor that himself and immediate family members are enmeshed in alleged corruption.’’
’We wish to categorically state that, as members of the Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks, from the Nineteen Northern States and FCT, pass a vote of confidence on the leadership of Abdulrasheed Bawa of the EFCC, and shall continue to support the Commission in the discharge of its constitutional mandate.’’
FULL TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE: BY CONFERENCE OF NORTHERN STATES CIVIL SOCIETY NETWORKS
The Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks, is a forum of states based civil society coalitions operating in the Nineteen Northern states of Nigeria and the FCT. The establishment of the platform was conceived in 2017, and inaugurated on 28th March, 2021 as a regional network of non-governmental, non-partisan, not for profit, non-ethnic and non-religious platform, with the sole objective of advocating for the best practices of democracy, accountable governance and increased development of Northern Nigeria and beyond through policy influencing, cooperation and teamwork.
Since the formal inauguration of the Conference on 28th March, 2021 at the meeting held in Kano. The conference has engaged in various activities, through collaboration and partnership with different organizations at both regional and national level, with the view to further support the efforts to promote good governance at all levels through the engagement of state actors for enhanced service delivery to the Nigerian citizens, with particular emphasis in Northern Nigeria.
As development advocates, we are concerned with the burning national issues such as: rise in unemployment which has left a large chunk of Nigerians, especially the youth in abject poverty. Although, the National Bureau of Statistics is a federal government agency which released the report on the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Survey, which indicated that the national economic lives of the people stood at 63% (approximately 133 million people) which represents persons living in poverty within Nigeria.
This therefore indicates 65% of the poor (representing 86 million people in the North), while 35% of this figure representing nearly 47 million live in the South. And unfortunately there is still no practical intervention framework that would provide short-term and long term strategy to aggressively address the deteriorating situation.
Although, it is undoubtedly conspicuous that most of the factors that have been contributing to the level of poverty witnessed in Nigeria, are attributed to the high level of corruption in Governance as well as in other sectors of the economy.
The lingering issues of insecurity has been a source of major concern in the country, which apart from the regular instances of banditry, insurgency, kidnapping for ransom and oil bunkering. The situation is now assuming a different dimension whereby public facilities are burnt down such as police and INEC offices and facilities. Other security challenges border on the increasing and institutionalized political thugery promoted by some desperate political class. Although the security agencies are doing their best to control the situations around the country despite the shortage of manpower.
However, many of the desperate politicians are continuing devising different tactics to outsmart the security agencies in the country. Most of the recent threat to security in Nigeria could be directly attributed to the infractions of some of the political leaders who always allow their personal and partisan sentiment as well as greed to take over their sense of judgment. The rate at which the political thugery is occurring in this country, is alarming and requires an aggressive approach by the security agencies, and all other stakeholders to prevail on the situation before the country is consumed.
We therefore call on the Inspector General of police and National security adviser to intensify their efforts and become more decisive to contain the situation, especially as the general elections are around the corner.
Similarly, It could also be acknowledged that of recent, some of the emerging issues that have also immensely contributed to the rising threat to security in the country are the newly introduced naira redesigned policy, increasing hate speech amongst political actors and deviation from issue based campaign to personality attacks, religious and ethnic profiling, as well as promotion of regional sentiment which threaten the corporate existence of a united Nigeria.
The ill-timed enforcement of the cashless policy, is also another issue of great concern, which requires urgent and decisive actions to address. Also the lingering fuel scarcity in the country is certainly another cause for concern and require urgent and more practical and sustainable measure to address once and for all. The long inaction of the government to fix the petroleum sector in Nigeria is not only embarrassing but also a serious threat to security and economic wellbeing of Nigerians.
We are also concerned on the increasingly continuous attempt by some governments at both national and states shrink the civic space in Nigeria. The recent decision of Zamfara state government banning the activities and operations of all NGOs in the state is not only condemnable but also a total contravention to the fundamental rights of Nigerians guaranteed in chapter four of the 1999 constitution as amended which provides the rights of association. We therefore call on Zamfara state Government to reverse this decision on the banning of the activities of NGOs in the state with immediate effect.
We are however of the opinion that the redesigned naira notes and cashless policies are good initiatives that could help in the development of the Nigerian economy, reduction of corrupt practices, and complement other efforts in tackling insecurity and as well facilitate a more global economic integration. However, the strategy for the implementation and approach are completely ineffective, defective and grossly ill-timed.
We strongly support both policies, but earnestly advise that a practical implementation framework that will be inclusive should be put in place, especially to ensure that all critical stakeholders are involved and carried along. The scarcity of the new naira notes has not only crippled many businesses and investments across the country, but has also given rise to insecurity, uncertainties as well as increased poverty, unprecedented sufferings in both cities and rural communities.
Cumulatively the scarcity of the new naira redesigned notes is not only responsible for a continuous downfall of business owners, especially the small scale and medium business enterprises, but the situation is also threatening the conduct of peaceful, credible and acceptable 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
We appreciate the giant stride made by the President on his stance on the new naira redesigned policy to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians by extending the use of N200 to April 10th 2023. In addition, we call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to direct CBN to make available the lower Naira denominations such as N5, N10, N20, N50 and N100.
It is at this juncture, as champions/promoters of democracy, we are duty bound to commend and appreciate Prof. Mahmud Yakubu led INEC for his steadfastness, doggedness and commitment to conduct the 2023 general elections despite the lingering and emerging challenges. It has come to our notice that there are some alleged pressure from some quarters on INEC leadership to have the elections postponed, It is our candid opinion that nothing is a worse disservice to the country than such evil thought and imagination.
It is our adamant belief that the leadership of INEC would not contemplate doing that, or succumb to any pressure, to temper with the integrity of the Commission. Let also remind the INEC Chairman that all eyes are on him, and the Nigerians citizens hold INEC in high esteem and expect nothing less than credible, fair, transparent elections that can sustain the trust and confidence the people repose on the electoral umpire.
As professional career civil society actors, we are disturbed by the emerging trend where some political leaders occupying exalted positions in some states would stoop too low, to sponsor some civil society organizations to organize protests against a public servant, who is empowered by law to undertake a crusade against corrupt persons, in Nigeria. Unfortunately such corrupt leaders have not only embezzled public money belonging to their State, but have also allowed their immediate family and relations to embezzle billions of public money, meant for the people of their State.
One of such states has been placed as one of the most backward in all indices of development. We wish to use this medium to inform such political leaders that they have no hiding place, and no amount of hiring the civil society organizations staging protests on some streets could save them and their families alleged to be involved in corruption from the hand of the law.
The most unfortunate behavior of those kind of civil society organizations, is their tendency of allowing themselves to be misled by some politicians without recourse to humanity, service to the nation as well as duty towards the promotion of a genuine course such as fight against corruption and corrupt practices
We therefore as Conference of Northern State Civil Society Networks representing states based civil society networks/coalitions from the Nineteen Northern States and FCT, wish to categorically put on record that, the groups protesting in some parts of Lagos State do not represent civil society organizations from all over the country, therefore, are not speaking for us or on our behalf, and we do not in any way share in their opinion calling for the sacking of the EFCC Chairman.
As Ambassadors of the EFCC and anti-corruption crusaders, we have so far appreciated the milestones achieved under the stewardship of Abdulrasheed Bawa, as the Chairman of the EFCC.
The current leadership of the EFCC has not only changed the approach on the fight against corruption but have also systematically introduced more durable reforms, such as increased number of qualified manpower, encouraged the culture of training and retraining of the staff, for more professionalism and effective discharge of the duties, imbibed human relations standard, improved standard of internal mechanism on staff discipline and administration for best practices, as well as increased integrity of the institution, in and outside the country.
In pursuance of the mandate of the EFCC on the fight against corruption in Nigeria, according to the data provided by the Commission, the agency was able to achieve the following:
A total conviction of 2,220 from January –December, 2021, the highest in the history of the Commission
In subsequent year, the total conviction stood at 3,785 that is from January – December, 2022
Recovered One Hundred and Fifty Two Billion, Eighty Eight Million Six Hundred Ninety eight Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty One Naira, Sixty Four Kobo in 2021
Three Hundred and Eighty Six Million, Two Hundred and Twenty Thousand, Two Hundred and Two Dollars in 2021.
Two Hundred and Sixty Billion, Four Hundred Million, Eight Hundred Thousand, One Hundred and Thirty Eight Naira, Ninety three kobo in 2022
Five Hundred and Nine Million, Five Hundred and Thirty Eight Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty Four Dollars.
It is on this note, we feel the imperative need to specially acknowledge the efforts of the current leadership of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) led by a focused, energetic and vibrant Youngman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, the EFCC Chairman, who in his ingenuity has gradually institutionalized a whistleblowing system that has exposed several conduits of financial embezzlement among government officials (civil servants and elected officials) across the country.
We, the members of the Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks, wish to encourage the leadership of EFCC to continue on its current path of chasing the corrupt elements in and within the power irrespective of tribe, religion and region to rid our country of corruption, and to bring them to book. And we equally encourage the Commission to continue to uphold the best practices of professionalism and neutrality, and also to implore the Commission to continue to remain focused and should not allow itself to be distracted by noisemakers and politically motivated sentiments. While EFCC currently focuses keenly on ensuring effective trail and arrest of currency speculators and those who stashed funds for illicit purposes, we call on the attention of EFCC leadership to be alert on the after-currency naira redesigned effects, to avoid hoarding of the new notes and other misgivings by financial institutions and politicians across the country.
We wish to call on President Muhammad Buhari to disregard and completely ignore the calls for the sack of the EFCC chairman by the paid protesters as it is being sponsored by a State Governor that himself and immediate family members are enmeshed in alleged corruption.
We wish to categorically state that, as members of the Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks, from the Nineteen Northern States and FCT, pass a vote of confidence on the leadership of Abdulrasheed Bawa of the EFCC, and shall continue to support the Commission in the discharge of its constitutional mandate.
Thank you for listening and God Bless.
- Amb. Ibrahim A. Waiya, President, Kano Civil Society Forum, Kano State
- Amb. Ibrahim Yusuf, Chairman, Association of NGOs, Gombe State.
- Mrs. Bola Ibiteye, Asst. Secretary Representing the Chairperson, Kogi NGOs Network (KONGONET), Kogi State
- Amb. Peter M. Egwudah, Chairman, Network of Adamawa Non-Governmental Organizations (NANGO), Adamawa State
- Jinjiri J. Garba, Executive Director/State Chairman, Bauchi State Network of Civil Society Organizations (BASNEC)
- Comrade Bulama Abiso, Executive Director, Network of Civil Society Organizations, Borno State
- Muhammad Musbahu Basrika, Chairman, Network of Civil Society Organizations, Jigawa State
- Emmanuel Bonet, Chairman, Concerned Civil Society, Kaduna State
- Abdulrahman Abdullahi, Chairman, Coalition of Civil Society Organizations, Katsina State
- Hon.(Dr) Usman Buhari Ali, Chairman, Coalition of NGOs in Kebbi State (CONKS)
- Pastor Ade Bodunde, Chairman, Kwara State Coalition of NGOs, Kwara State
- Mr. Solomon Yakubu Enjola, Chairman, Nassarawa NGO Network (NANGONET), Nassarawa State
- Habila Muhammad Kudu, Coordinator, NGOs Forum Niger State
- Shehu Bello Gwadabawa, Chairman, Coalition of NGOs in Sokoto State
- Joseph Gimba (PhD), Chairman, Coalition for Civil Society Organizations in Taraba State (COCSOTS)
- Alh. Baba Shehu, Executive Director/Chairman, Network of Yobe Civil Society Organizations
- Ambassador Ibrahim Tudu, Chairman, Zamfara Coalition of NGOs (ZASCONS), Zamfara State
- Aanu’ Rotimi, Chairperson–FCT Accountability Mechanism (FCTAM), Abuja
- Amb. Ahmed Shehu, Chairman, North East Civil Society Forum.
- Mrs. Shimenenge Kyaagba, Coordinator, Benue Network of NGOs (BENGONET), Benue State