Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, 40, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), became a household name when he was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as the commission’s Chairman-Designate some weeks ago.
The question on the lips of most Nigerians is what did the president see a youth that would make him to nominate him to lead the war against corruption.
Some critics insinuate that may be the president did that to observe the Not too Young to Run act that seeks to reduce the age limit for running for public office in the country.
Irrespective of the critics’ observations, Bawa’s final screening and approval by the Senate were completed on Feb. 24.
Now that Bawa is at the helm of the activities of EFCC, Nigerians, especially concerned youths have urged him to utilise the opportunity to position the youth for leadership in future.
According them, his appointment if justified by his performance, will serve as a test passed by the youth to get appointment for any public office and excel
For instance, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), called on Bawa to deal with old and young thieves in government offices and to execute plans in line with the constitution.
National coordinator of the association, Emmanuel Onwubiko said Bawa should also ensure that “EFCC respects human rights in the discharge of its duties.
“The decision of President Buhari to appoint a youngster to head EFCC should be looked at from a positive dimension’’.
Similarly, during the screening, some of the senators referred to him as a brilliant young man on whose shoulders now rests the huge responsibility of fighting corruption.
Sharing similar sentiments, Citizens Awareness Against Corruption and Social Vices Initiative and other youth groups, commended Buhari for the appointment.
According to them, the development is a pointer that youths are being reckoned with in the governance of the country.
A statement was signed by Olumuyiwa Onilede on behalf of the youth said they threw their weight behind Bawa because “apart from being a young person, he has been a core detective of the organisation who knows the anti-graft job’’.
In the same vein, some concerned citizens note that Bawa’s appointment is a blessing in disguise to youths.
However, cynics fear that such an opportunity, if not handled with the wisdom will deal a bitter blow to the ambition of the youth in their quest for leadership.
Mr John Owie, a lawyer, in his view praised the courage of Bawa for accepting to serve as EFCC chairman.
He described him as an unassuming young man with a child-like character, saying “I know he knows the terrain and he has experience and age is not going to be a barrier.
`What I fear the most are the politicians and corrupt people who would try to derail him. I hope he can put in place a formidable team and avoid pitfalls’’.
Also, Mr John Abude, a public analyst, says he wants to see a restructured anti-graft agency that is fully independent and not in the winds and caprices of government.
“Bawa’s challenge should be reinvigorating the anti-graft structure and putting in place institutions.
“There is going to be two levels of Nigerians, either you are assisting in fighting crime or we are assisting Bawa and the anti-crime agency to fight you. “The choice is yours,’’ he noted.
But Bawa said during his screening that the EFCC has the legal backing to investigate unexplained wealth.
“I have been the Desk Officer of the anti-crime commission of Unexplained Wealth Order and I have also worked closely with the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom.
“Section 7, Sub-section 1(b) of the EFCC the commission has the powers to cause investigation to be conducted into the property of any person that appears to the commission whose lifestyle does not justify his or her source of income,’’ he said.
He, therefore, promised a total overhaul of the anti- graft agency in line with professionalism and his mandate to restructure.
When Bawa was asked by the Senate if he was going to send back the large number of policemen in the service of the commission, he said: “We shall assess the need and requirements of the commission and carry out the necessary adjustments.
“We are going to have a sweeping overhaul that will reposition the commission.
“I am going to give the young people a very good representation in the governance of this country so that more young people will be given more responsibility in this country.”
According to Bawa, the EFCC will achieve its independent objective by sharing information with its partners.
He noted that the constitution would guide his actions and that at the end of his tenure, the EFCC would be a better place than he met it because his training by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Crime Agency of the United States and the United Kingdom respectively would come in handy.
Bawa is a graduate from the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics (Second Class Upper) in 2001.
He joined the EFCC as an Assistant Detective Superintendent (ADS) in 2004.
He also holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy which he obtained from the same university in 2012.
According to his résumé, the new anti-graft boss has spent about 16 years working with the EFCC as a detective and he is a pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers, Course One, 2005.
Bawa rose through the ranks to become a Deputy Chief Detective Superintendent (DCDS), a position he held since 2016 until his nomination as the anti-graft agency’s substantive chairman.
He has vast investigation experience and has been part of the prosecution of advance fee fraud, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic and financial crimes related offences.
Observers note that Bawa’s track record in EFCC as an investigator is actually intimidating as he learnt the ropes from past leaders of the commission, being a pioneer member of its academy.
They observe further that he has been involved in the investigation and prosecution of many high profile crimes in the country.
As the head of the EFCC’s investigative team handling the case of the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke from 2015 until date, his team has recovered millions of dollars’ worth of property in the country, the UK, U.S, and United Arab Emirate.
With his track record, youths say Bawa has the capacity to show to the world the ability to lead in any capacity.(NANFeatures)