The announcement by the presidency of Abdulrasheed Bawa as the chairman-designate of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) shocked many of his colleagues Tuesday.

The 40-year-old Mr Bawa will have to be screened and confirmed by the Senate before he steps into office as the substantive chairman of the commission.

At the EFCC’s Lagos office, which Mr Bawa currently heads, detectives and other officials of the commission expressed slightly divergent views on the appointment, with some expressing joy that a “workaholic” who pushed staff beyond their limits would now have his attention diverted to other places, while others expressed sadness that a reformer who “transformed” the Lagos office would now have to pay less attention to the Lagos office.

“He’s a workaholic who pushes people to work hard, sometimes too hard,” said a senior detective at the EFCC’s Lagos office, adding that “he hardly approves casual leave and has no regard for COVID-19 protocols. You just must come to the office and work.”

“Spirit (as Mr Bawa is called by his colleagues) really brought professionalism to the Lagos office,” another detective said. “He introduced biometrics to ensure entry and exit of staff can be monitored and has virtually ended the culture of people coming late or not coming to the office. He ensures he gets briefings from team leads, not zonal heads, he tries to know all his staff.”

o understand how Mr Bawa is viewed by his colleagues, PREMIUM TIMES interviewed over 10 EFCC operatives including two senior police officers working at the commission, all of whom have worked directly with Mr Bawa in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan or Port Harcourt — the four EFCC bases that the nominee has worked from. All of them asked not to be named as they are not permitted to talk to the media.

“Actually Bawa is one of the more thoughtful officers in the EFCC, a former senior official of the EFCC said. “He is also very hard working. What I can remember is that he is one of the finest in his course set. I will say that being the first product of the EFCC academy to head the agency makes good of the promise to end the reign of police leadership.”

Our findings reveal that Mr Bawa’s colleagues see him as a young, brilliant, hardworking, and ambitious reformer who would most likely deliver if his backers in government, including Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s attorney-general, do not interfere with his job. Mr Malami engineered the exit of the former acting chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, and is believed to be one of the nominee’s major backers.

Mr Malami is from the same Kebbi State as Mr Bawa, although while the attorney-general is from Birnin-Kebbi local government area of the state, the new EFCC chairman-designate hails from Jega local government. Both men are not known to have any family, business or professional relationship.