Nuhu Ribadu: Between Ideology and Adventurism By Zebulon Agomuo
It has since been established that politicians, all over the world, behave like prostitutes. They dance and sleep with anybody that meets the demand of the hour. They may not even recognise a bed mate minutes later. They sell their wares to the highest bidder and bait no eyelids about that! However, nowadays, some people argue that the degree of political harlotry varies from one country to another.
In his presentation at a public forum in Lagos, Jonah Isawa Elaigwu, a professor emeritus of Political Science, University of Jos, had categorised Nigerian politicians into three.
In his words: “Our politicians see democracy in instrumental terms. They are more concerned with the perquisites of political positions than the delivery of service. This is why we have three groups of politicians- politicians, political contractors and political touts- in the political terrain.”
According to him, “The politician is one who is dedicated to politics and seeks to acquire and use power in the interest of his electorate- for the maintenance of law and order, provision of welfare, and the pursuit of the interest of the state in relation to other state in the international system. There are very few of these available in Nigeria today; even these have become an endangered species.
“The political contractor is a businessman in the political terrain. For him, democracy is tolerable nuisance, which provides greater access to resources. The end of democracy and values are important even though he may be shouting them at public fora. For him, democracy provides opportunity for an investment which must be recouped.”
Nuhu Ribadu, a dedicated and passionate professional law officer, who was catapulted by former president Olusegun Obasanjo to chair the then newly created Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has continued to enjoy elevations in politics.
However, his actions and inactions have continued to be a subject of controversy as admirers and critics are on equal measures cheering and jeering at what was described as his successes while at the EFCC.
His exploits at the EFCC must have encouraged the then leadership of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to draft him as the party’s flag-bearer in the 2011 presidential election.
Explaining the choice for Ribadu, Bisi Akande, who was the national chairman of the party, said: “We in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) decided to migrate from the recycled elders to the club of the youth and we expected that only youths would pick our form. We signaled this sufficiently enough. We wanted the youth of this country that had been denied the forefront in the political life of the country to be pushed forward. It was the military intervention in our life that destroyed the opportunity of the youth across Nigeria. As a result of that and as a political party, we said we were going to insist on the recreation of opportunities for the youths of this country. We made it an ideological position of the party; that is, the promotion of youths and women. Nuhu Ribadu falls within that bracket.”
Attahiru Bafarawa, a two-term governor of Sokoto State and a presidential candidate of the defunct Democratic People’s Party (DPP), who was nursing an ambition to contest the presidential slot again on ACN platform, was not happy that the party leadership favoured Ribadu instead. Although the Adamawa-born former EFCC Czar contested the election, he was roundly trounced by the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Goodluck Jonathan.
After that misadventure, Ribadu fraternised with a merger party that succeeded ACN, until recently when, according to reports, he decided to dump the party back to PDP.
Ribadu is said to be pressured by the powers that be in Abuja to fly PDP flag in a gubernatorial election slated for 0ctober 11, 2014, to fill the vacant space made possible by the recent impeachment of Murtala Nyako. It was gathered that the PDP at the national level may have concluded plans to grant him automatic waiver which would be extended to the state, local and ward levels. Recall that Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, had also enjoyed such treatment when he rejoined the umbrella party from ACN which paved the way for him to take part in the party’s presidential convention/primary won by Goodluck Jonathan.
However, one of the leaders of the party in Adamawa, who spoke with BD SUNDAY said Ribadu’s comeback was inconsequential as he had since lost his charm on the people in the state.
“Ribadu as far as we are concerned is not in the picture of the next governor of Adamawa for now. He has to join the queue. There are already about 14 contenders for the position on PDP platform. You don’t expect the party to just hand the position to Ribadu when there are many party loyalists, who have followership and have built the party both financially and morally. Things don’t work that way. By the way, how would such a decision place us before the Adamawa people? It would mean that anybody can just come in from nowhere and get the ticket. That would not encourage party loyalty. Never! When he was going for the presidential ticket in 2011 under ACN we advised him to moderate his ambition; we told him to stay back in PDP but he wouldn’t listen. He has to join the queue, because there are already many party loyalists eyeing that position,” the source said.
While it has become difficult to say exactly why Ribadu decided to ditch APC, fillers revealed that the former EFCC boss was not happy “about how some prominent APC leaders sold him out in the then ACN.”
Some associates of Ribadu said the politician was unhappy by the APC’s lack of ability to resolve the conflicts within its fold and the lack of internal democracy in the party.
He was also said to be bitter that some leading chieftains of the party are increasingly being sidelined in the race for the presidential ticket of the party.
But a pundit disagreed with such excuses, saying, “to carpet cross from APC to PDP on the promise of an automatic ticket is fraudulent and quite unlike Nuhu Ribadu, and the repercussion will be a lost character and bearing for such a brilliant personality. It would have served better if he had pocketed the dollars in the Ibori case. It also assumes that PDP is the winning party by hook or by crook, and watching what happened in Osun gives me hope that you do not have to be in PDP in order to win”.
“My worry is for Nuhu Ribadu who has held promise to succeed Muhammadu Buhari as a principled patriot, building for himself a clean and unblemished record of never compromising with fraud. It disturbs, to imagine a betrayed Muhammadu Buhari whose name alone guaranteed some governors in office today, the seats that they occupy, and Nuhu certainly, equally stands to benefit from the name,” the analyst said.
Death of ideology?
Since Ribadu joined the opposition, he has always accused the PDP of not having internal democracy. At rallies, he had claimed that APC was the party to belong to and a party that would take Nigeria to the dream land. The question many people are asking now is: what happened to the APC ideology he had so much extolled?
Critics believe that a person who believes in his/her ideology can never be bought over no matter what happens. Sometime ago, Ribadu, at a public lecture organised by the Students Representative Council of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, gave some attributes and definitions of a politician.
According to him, “a politician is a conscious citizen of a country; a politician is a thinker and volunteer; a politician is a humanist and patriot…”
Ribadu had also, at various times and several occasions, said that the late Gani Fawehinmi’s mentorship helped him in shaping his ideological stance.
He said he met the frontline human rights lawyer while serving as a pupil lawyer at the military Special Investigative Panel during the short-lived Buhari/Idiagbon regime.
According to him, Fawehinmi provided him with critical pieces of advice and mentorship lessons that continue to serve as his guiding light to this day. He also said that his tutelage under Fawehinmi sharpened his resolve to continue to fight the cause of the poor and subsequently join the Nigerian Police Force.
In reaction to his claim of following in the steps of Fawehinmi, a pundit doubted the truth of his claim in the light of his alleged latest move and some of his actions in the past.
A commentator recently observed: “Ribadu once said former Lagos State governor and APC chieftain, Bola Tinubu was a corrupt fellow, but later contested on his defunct ACN platform, running away from his initial claim. Fawehinmi legally fought Tinubu, especially for alleged forgery of school certificate by the former governor. Why did Ribadu not contest on Fawehinmi, his mentor’s political party (NCP) instead of ACN?
“Activities of Ribadu lately show he loves the company of others for sympathy which is a departure from what Fawehinmi mentored. ‘Fight for what is right always, even if you have to fight alone’. Indeed, Gani fought alone many times. Fawehinmi was known to be consistent, steadfast and un-distracted; but Ribadu seems to come here and go there (a rolling stone)”.
Ribadu, born November 21, 1960 in Yola, Adamawa State, was appointed chairman of EFCC in 2003 by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. He was reappointed in 2007; was also promoted to the position of assistant inspector general of police. The promotion on April 9, 2007, three weeks before newly elected president Umaru Yar’Adua was sworn-in, was later challenged on the basis that it was “illegal, unconstitutional, null and void, and of no legal effect.” In December 2007, the then inspector-general of police, Mike Okiro ordered that Ribadu be temporarily removed from the position of EFCC chairman and that he should attend the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru, Jos, Plateau State, for a mandatory one-year course.
The decision was heavily criticised by many Nigerians who saw it as politically-motivated and likely to set back the fight against corruption. On December 22, 2008, he was dismissed from the Nigerian Police force by the Nigerian Police Service Commission (PSC). He left Nigeria and in April assumed a fellowship at the Centre for Global Development. He returned to join the ACN as a presidential aspirant in the 2011 general election.
In 2012, he was appointed chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force set up by Dieziani Alison-Madueke, minister of Petroleum Resources.
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