Untold Stories of Buhari’s Anti-corruption Strategists
Here is what Professor Itse Sagay said in a press interview about the people that have led Nigeria since independence: “It was all about service. All about integrity. All about honour. But after the military came in, everything changed…We blame the military, and they deserve to be blamed. It was after the military came in that the whole orientation changed. The orientation of self-enrichment, orientation of diverting resources for very, very dirty and illegal purposes…the military introduced it. But the civilians have magnified and increased it by geometric proportion.”
Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption which President Muhammadu Buhari named this month profiled corruption in Nigeria further, “What we’re seeing now is that progressively, with time, the quality of the human beings ruling Nigeria has fallen. The First Republic (leaders) were the best. And they were as good as any other persons in the whole world. Second Republic is not comparable at all to the First Republic, but they were not bad to the extreme. They still had some restraint. They still had some fear. Fear of God. Fear of consequences. Then, there was the second coming of the military. In the brief Third Republic, nothing much happened. Abacha sacked them before they were able to do much harm. But this Fourth Republic has really brought into power gangsters. Since 1999, this country has been taken over by conscienceless gangsters.”
Those words show the enormity of the work that the famed activist has been asked to do as head of the body of intellectuals that Buhari has constituted to advise him on how to proceed on his fight against corruption.
President Muhammadu Buhari, taking a major step on the 10th of this month in his avowed anti-corruption war, named seven individuals that now constitute his anti-corruption committee with Sagey, a professor of Law, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a famous human rights activist, as chairman.
A Professor of Law at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye is to serve as secretary of the committee. Other members of the committee include an associate professor of Law in University of Jos, Dr. Benedicta Daudu; a professor of Criminology and Sociology from the same university, Etannibi Alamika; a professor of Criminology from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Sadiq Radda; and an activist, Mrs Hadiza Bala Usman.
Professor Sagay, a scholar and author of many classic works in Law, attended Government College, Ughelli, Delta State, from September 1954 to December 1959. After working first as a Customs clerk and later as a programmes operator (now known as studio manager) in the then Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, Ikoyi for nearly three years, he obtained admission as a member of the very first batch of students into the Faculty of Law, University of Ife in September 1962 where he obtained Upper Second Division in 1965. He proceeded to the Nigerian Law School for his professional training and was called to the Bar in July 1966.
Following his appointment in September 1966 as an assistant lecturer, Faculty of Law in the University of Ife, Sagay proceeded to Cambridge University for his post-graduate studies, obtaining the LL.B (a post-graduate degree now called LL.M) in 1967 and then PhD in 1970. He returned to lecture at Ife that year and rose to the position of Professor in 1979. He became acting dean and then substantive dean of the Faculty in the years 1979-80 and 1981-82.
Having set up the Faculty of Law of University of Benin in 1981, he was invited to become its first substantive professor and dean in October 1982, a position which he held until October 1986.
Professor Sagay, currently in private legal practice, is a leading crusader for the rule of law, human rights and social justice.
He is also an author of numerous articles and books. Some of the conference papers he has presented include ‘Controlling Chronic Corruption in Nigeria. An overview of the 1999 Anti-Corruption Bill,’ which he presented in 1999 at a civil society hearing on Controlling Chronic Corruption’; ’The 1999 Constitution and the subversion of Democracy’, an Inaugural Siyan Olawoyin Lecture, Faculty of Law, Olufemi Awolowo University, May 2002; ‘Can Nigerian Democracy Survive the Fight Against Corruption?’ a paper he presented at the 1st anniversary of the passing on of Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams held in Lagos in 2006; ‘Politics, Public Service, Morality and Integrity in Nigeria’, a 6th Annual Adekunle Kukoyi Lecture, delivered in 2011; ‘The Anti-Corruption Agencies and Pervasive Corruption in Nigeria’, a paper delivered at the Ogun State Judges Conference in 2011, among numerous others.
Born as Sagay Itsejuwa Esanjumi on December 20, 1940, Professor Itse Sagay is described as a fiercely outspoken person because of his candour in accessing individuals, powerful as such individuals maybe. And he does such assessment frequently over the roles of such individuals in the extent to which corruption now rage in the country. Nigerians who know him in such mould express the hope that he would carry it to the work of the committee that he has been asked been asked to coordinate.
The news that two dons from University of Jos (Unijos) had been named among the seven members of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption was received with much pride by the university community which describes criminologist and sociologist Professor Etannibi Alemika, and Associate Professor of Law Benedicta Daudu, as epitomes of character with strong commitment to service.
Executive Director of University of Jos Advancement Office, Mr Yakubu Gomos said the appointment of Professor Alemika and Associate Prof. Daudu portrays the university as an institution that produces quality individuals and showcases best practices. “These two appointments constitute one of those giant strides of the University of Jos,” Gomos asserted.
Etannibi Alemika: Fervent Patriot, a fearless Scholar
Professor Atannibi Alemika is described by colleagues and students of the University of Jos as an international scholar and a fearless don. Those who know him closely say he is a sociologist with zero tolerance for corruption. Mr. Gomos said, “He has presented papers locally and internationally, a sociologist who has spoken so much against corruption. In fact, the first University of Jos 40th year’s anniversary lecture was delivered by him and he delved on the need for a good foundation for education and he spoke on the decadence and corruption in the system, and anybody who knows Alemika knows that he is a man of character who will always say it as it is and who wants a better society, so this appointment is in the right direction.”
A past student of Alemika, Aaron Kefas believes that Alemika will bring his wealth of experience to the committee. “Professor Alemika is fervent about this country and how to move it forward. He is a committed person and I am very sure he will bring his valuable experience to the committee,” Kefas said.
Benedicta Daudu: A Perfectionist, No-Nonsense Gender Activist
Associate Professor Benedicta Dauda is the Head of Department, International Law and Jurisprudence in the Faculty of Law, University of Jos and a gender rights advocate. Her colleagues describe her as a hardworking gender advocate and a fearless speaker.
Dr. Daudu has been vibrant on issues of gender and issues of international best practices as well as equity and honesty. Her colleague, Associate Professor Akkarren Samuel Shaakaa who is also the Deputy Dean of Law, University of Jos, said about Mrs Daudu, “They must have looked at performance because Benedicta has been very active in the faculty, she also doubles as deputy director in the centre for gender studies for the university and she is also involved at the highest level of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA). She has just relinquished office as the treasurer of ASUU. We can count her in this faculty as one of the most serious staff members because despite her tight, students have not complained that she has not been up and doing.”
Benedicta Daudu’s students believe that she will contribute immensely to the project on anticorruption. “She is a perfectionist, she expects you to be perfect in whatever you are doing and she takes her work seriously. So the news of her appointment did not come to us as a surprise. Rather we felt it was about time she was recognised at that level,” Oseruvwoja Tohwo, a final year Law student, said.
The expectation over Dr Benedicta is in indeed high. Dr. Shaakaa says of her: “We are hoping that she will project what she has always preached. We know her as a no-nonsense person. She is someone who is impeccable and upright and we will expect nothing less from her now that she has a national platform to showcase all of these virtues.”
Femi Odekunle: Radical Scholar, Selfless Scholar
According to colleagues and students of Professor Femi Odekunle, President Buhari couldn’t have made a better choice than selecting the prominent Professor of Criminology to serve in the Presidential Anti-Corruption Advisory Committee. They told Daily Trust on Sunday that Professor Odekunle had over the years built a reputation of a bold and radical scholar, saying that his legacies as a former head of department and dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria are enough qualification for the professor to serve as adviser on anti-corruption.
Professor Odekunle was among the first few Nigerians to earn a bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1968. Professor Odekunle returned to the Ahmadu Bello University after training as a criminologist at the University of Pennsylvania. At the time he became a professor of criminology, Professor Odekunle was the youngest in Africa. Like most of his mates, Professor Odekunle was also regarded as a Marxist-Sociologist. Perhaps, this posture shaped his career in ABU, Zaria.
According to Professor Ayo Dunmoye, the immediate past dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of ABU and currently one of the senior professors in the Department of Political Science of the university, the “boldness” of Professor Odekunle would certainly add zest to the work of the committee. Dunmoye said, “Professor Odekunle has trained many criminologists in ABU, including Adenika, who is also a member of the committee. He is well known all over Africa and beyond. He was our dean, so we know the type of person he is. His appointment is a well-deserved one, because he is somebody who speaks his mind. Don’t forget he was also special adviser to Oladipo Diya, therefore the job may not be new to him.”
One of Professor Odekunle’s undergraduate students in 1999 and currently a lecturer at the Federal University of Education, Zaria, Idris Aliyu, said he could not forget life under the tutorship of the professor-criminologist. Aiyu said, “He taught me between 1999 and 2004 at the Department of Sociology of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria before he retired. Professor Odekunle was an expert in the field of criminology. He was the first professor of Criminology in Nigeria and was then the youngest in Africa. I believe that Professor Odekunle is hundred percent qualified to be in that committee. He is a man of integrity and principle. He doesn’t compromise his principles for any personal gain. Hundreds of us went through his tutorship, but no one can ever tell you that Professor Odekunle has at any time engaged in corrupt practice. Therefore, for me, President Buhari has made a very good choice.”
Another student of Professor Femi Odekunle and a lecturer in the department of Political Science of the Federal College of Education, Zaria, Oduh Gabriel Obute, went down memory lane, saying, “On mentioning the name Professor Femi Odekunle, one would be forced to remember a lecturer who would come to the class smiling with the head of his belt twisted to the right hand side of his waist instead of the usual position. A lecturer delivering lecture and occasionally throwing in jokes that can make one to laugh out his worries. I can remember some of us who were in Sociology department to take 101 and 102 simply because it was Professor Odekunle that was the lecturer.”
Hadiza Usman: Answering Her Father’s Name In Activism, Anti-Corruption Stance
Hadiza Yusuf Bala Usman was born on January 2, 1976. She is the daughter of Katsina-born scholar in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and social critic, the late Dr Yusuf Bala Usman who died in 2005 at the age of 60.
Her father, Dr Bala Usman, joined the late Malam Aminu Kano’s Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and he became the first physically-challenged person to be Secretary to the State Government under Governor Balarabe Musa in 1979. Hadiza can be said to have inherited the traits of her father who is a consistent critic of impunity.
Hadiza Bala Usman maintains the name of her father despite being married to an economist, the former Chief Economic Adviser to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Dr Taminu Yakubu Kurfi. As the Chief of Staff to Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State upon her appointment into the anti-corruption committee, she is the only activist politician in the committee who has served in various capacities under the All Progressives Congress (APC) before Buhari and el-Rufai won their respective elections.
She was the Administrative Secretary of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Organization; Secretary, APC Elections Planning Committee, and Member, APC Strategy Committee. She was also Director of Finance in the Nasir el-Rufai Campaign Organization, and later the Kaduna State APC Campaign Council.
She started her primary education at ABU Staff School, attended ABU Demonstration Secondary School and earned a BSc in Business Administration from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. She obtained an MA in Development Studies from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, in 2009.
Hadiza worked at the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from 2000 to 2004 when she was hired by the UNDP for the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) from October 2004 to January 2008 as a Special Assistant to the FCT Minister on Project Implementation. Since 2011, she has been Director of Strategy for the Good Governance Group (3G).
In April 2014, she co-founded the global movement BringBackOurGirls.
Hadiza has been internationally recognized for her contributions. Financial Times named her amongst the most influential women of 2014, while CNN chose her as the most inspiring woman of 2014. Ebony Magazine also named her amongst the 100 most influential black women in the world in 2014. In August 2014 she gave a touching speech on Chibok Girls at the United Nations Headquarters in New York during UN DPI conference as a guest speaker.
That was when she contacted her older friend, the renowned barrister Mrs. Maryam Uwais, and together, they started a chain of emails to mobilize others, mainly women, to get on the streets to pressurize the government to bring the Chibok girls back. She says she was shocked about how nothing had been done, weeks after the abduction and about how Abuja residents seemed to carry on with life as usual.
Sadiq Radda: Activist With Revulsion For Corruption
Professor Sadiq Isa Radda is a reputed intellectual and an activist with a deep revulsion for corruption, injustice and criminality, according to those who know him. Born in 1963 in Radda town of Katsina State, Sadiq Isa attended Radda Primary School from 1970 to 1976 and had his secondary education at Rimi College in Kaduna from 976-1981.
Radda then proceeded to the College of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Zaria before acquiring his Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Criminology at Bayero University Kano (BUK) in 1987. Three years later, he obtained his Master of Science (MSc) degree from the same institution and then went ahead with his doctorate degree (PhD) in Sociology at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, which he completed in 2005.
He began his teaching career in 1990 at BUK where he spent several years and steadily rose through the ranks to become a professor of criminology in 2011. A specialist on criminal justice, human rights and corporate crimes and scandals, Radda who is currently the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) at BUK, is also the Chairman of Network for Justice, a two-decade old civil society organization focusing on anti-corruption campaign, conflict resolution and good governance.
While announcing Radda’s new assignment as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, BUK, on its website described him as “an erudite scholar (who) combines scholarship with labour activism and had since carved a niche for himself as the voice of the voiceless and the defender of the defenseless”.
Also speaking on Radda’s antecedents, one of his associates, Dr. Bala Abdullahi Gaduwama who is the executive director of the Network for Justice, Kano office, said the professor is one of the most respected and fearless elites in the country seen even within the academic community as an incorruptible. “He’s a reputed academic, precisely a professor of criminology, a position that gives him the intellectual depth and insight to appreciate the complexities of criminality in the Nigerian society,” Bala Gaduwama said.
Another Kano-born anti-corruption activist, Muhyi Magaji, who is the Chairman of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, told Daily Trust on Sunday that Radda’s membership on the Professor Itse Sagay-led anti-corruption committee means that Buhari’s determination to eradicate corruption in the country is indisputable.
Owasonoye: A Disciplined Professional Who Detests Corruption
The Scribe of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye is a research professor with 25 years’ experience providing technical assistance on continuing legal education research and development.
He is the Director of Research at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) in Lagos. He was formerly a lecturer in Law at the Lagos State University and has been member of faculty on Continuing Legal Education Training Programmes at the NIALS since 1991, implementing training programmes for lawyers and judicial personnel in legislative and commercial drafting.
Owasanoye has published articles on legal aspects of debt management, women and reproductive rights and the rights of the child in Nigeria.
Professor Owasanoye obtained his LL.B. and LL.M from the University of Ife and University of Lagos in 1984 and 1987 respectively. He obtained a Certificate in Managing Development Projects and Programmes, IMA Associates, U.K., 2000; and another Certificate in Legislative Drafting, Royal Institute of Public Administration (U.K.) and Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 1992. He also obtained a certificate in Legal Aspects of Debt and Financial Management UNITAR in 1991.
He is a board member of the Nigerian Bar Association Institute of Continuing Legal Education; and member of faculty, Continuing Legal Education programmes for government Legal Advisers, private legal practitioners and judicial personnel of superior and inferior courts of record on Legal and Legislative Drafting, Negotiation of International Contracts, Legal Aspects of Debt and Financial Management.
From 1992 to date, he has been the Coordinator, Annotation of Federal Laws Project under auspices of the NIALS, Lagos Nigeria. The role involves co-coordinating the collation and annotation of all federal statutes and Supreme Court judicial decisions, and supervising the input of several law teachers and professors selected from around the country.
From January 2007 to date, he has been the Secretary of the National Working Group on the Review of Investment Laws in Nigeria. It is a Federal Ministry of Justice based initiative to review and reform investment laws in the country.
A close associate of Professor Owasanoye describes him as a very disciplined person that detests corruption. He has through his professional and social activities displayed his anti-corruption disposition. The appointment is another opportunity to tackle corruption in the country.