21st November, 2011
Move over Boko Haram. You are not the most important nightmare of Nigeria! The cankerworm of corruption takes the gold medal as the country’s major security threat. This verdict was given today by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri at a lecture at the National Defence College, Abuja. She also blamed corruption for being the greatest threat to the Nigerian economy.
Mrs Waziri, a lawyer and an ex-police officer spoke on the theme, : â€œEconomic Crimes and National Security: Challenges for Nigeriaâ€.
The EFCC boss explained that there was a direct nexus between security and the economy and that a poor economy was the anvil on which adverse national interests are forged.
She pointed out that national security is the composite of economic; political; environmental; health ; nutritional , community and personal securities. In all of these, Waziri stressed that economic security was imperative.
â€œIndeed the rallying cry should be that, as a nation, â€˜seek ye the kingdom of economic prosperity and every other thing shall be added unto theeâ€™. In other words, secure your economy first, and the other essential parameters will be easier to handleâ€, she explained.
In tackling the menace of corruption, Waziri identified four essential pillars of integrity as necessary conditions for national security. These are: political will; effective law enforcement; effective and incorruptible judiciary and an independent, virile civil society.
â€œFirst, there must be a political will to fight corruption. When the chips are down, the essence of political leadership is to provide a direction for policies and to provide requisite anti-corruption structures, such as legislation, funding, zero tolerance policies, among othersâ€, she said.
On effective law enforcement. the EFCC boss explained that, â€œwhile political will translates to zero tolerance for corruption as well as the provision of effective anti-corruption structures, it behoves the anti-corruption agencies to implement and run with the structuresâ€.
On effective administration of justice, she said that, â€œwe must understand that all political will and law enforcement in the world ultimately end in a court of law. The best any law enforcement agency can do is to properly investigate cases and file charges, after which the courts take over. The frustrations faced by law enforcement agencies within the tedious common law process of administration of justice must be voidedâ€.
And on the need for an independent and virile civil society, Waziri submitted that the civil society is the conscience of the nation. â€œCivil society cannot afford to pander to select parochial interests but must maintain a clinical sense of objectivityâ€.
The EFCC Chairman made the presentation to Course 20 participants of the National Defence College.
The participants were drawn from the various arms of the nationâ€™s armed forces, law enforcement agencies, including anti-graft organisations.