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Who Really Is Nuhu Ribadu?

By Adewale Kupoluyi

The season of defection by politicians is becoming more interesting going by the latest move by a former Presidential aspirant of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, decamping from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Ordinarily, one should not be too worried about the move if not for the dramatis personae in this latest development.

What makes Ribadu’s case more troubling is because the man in question is well respected by both the young and the old. He’s a mentor to many promising youths in Nigeria. Ribadu is not seen as just another politician going by his antecedents in the public service. What readily comes to mind when his name is mentioned are: discipline, forthrightness, courage and frankness. Ribadu, whose self-acclaimed drive for the ‘pursuit of a good cause’, had energised his ambition to fully contest the Adamawa governorship bye-election slated for October 11 while the primary holds on September 6, made possible by the impeachment of the former Governor Murtala Nyako, who was controversially removed from office by the State House of Assembly.

Nuhu Ribadu

Nuhu Ribadu

Observers believe that each contestant has almost equal chance of producing the next governor. So, when and how did Ribadu joined the race? He was rumoured to have been drafted into the governorship race at the last minute by the Presidency on the recommendation of the Principal Private Secretary to the President, Ambassador Hassan Tukur, who is said to be Ribadu’s classmates, having enjoyed many years of mutual relationship together. With this development, the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman’s defection was said to have already polarised the party in Adamawa State as party faithful are against the alleged plot by the national leadership of PDP to foist him as its candidate and the likely consequence ‘a Ribadu candidacy’ could have on the fortunes of the party in this election as well as the 2015 presidential election. No doubt, Ribadu’s remarkable achievements in the public service, as the chairman of EFCC, included the de-listing of Nigeria from the list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories as well as admission into the prestigious Egmont Group, among others.

However, Ribadu’s new ambition may be thwarted for a number of reasons. Firstly, he may not get the ticket for joining the party late because the provision of the PDP’s constitution may be invoked through Section 50 (9) which says that, “there shall be a minimum of two year membership span for a member to be eligible to stand for election into any public office, unless the appropriate executive committee gives a waiver or rules to the contrary”. In addition, those to be considered are required go through their wards, to local councils, to states and finally to the National Executive Committee (NEC), depending on the desired position. This is certainly a Herculean task and hurdle for Ribadu to cross. Secondly, he has to contend with powerful candidates that have so far indicated interest to contest the election under the platform of the PDP. So, what becomes of them if he truly becomes the anointed candidate? What happens to the political fortunes of the former Military Administrator of Lagos State, General Buba Marwa; former Senator representing Adamawa Central, Abubakar Girei; a former Political Adviser to the President, Ahmed Gulak; and former Minister, Idi Hong; Dr. Umar Ardo, former Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission, Dr. Ahmed Modibo; Mr. Markus Gundiri and the son of former PDP national chairman, Mr. Awual Tukur? Thirdly, he may simply lose out on the basis of his radical nature, going by his anti-corruption credentials and the way and manner he had dealt with high profile graft cases in the past. We recall that during Ribadu’s tenure, the EFCC prosecuted prominent bankers, former as well as serving state governors, senate presidents, ministers, high-ranking political party members, commissioners of police, and advance fee fraud suspects.

Despite the pressure and outcry, EFCC still issued thousands of indictments and achieved almost about 300 conviction, which include the celebrated cases of the then Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, who was convicted, jailed and made to return £150 million under a plea bargain; former Governors Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa) and Joshua Dariye (Plateau) that were eventually removed from office. Ribadu’s court evidence also helped to prosecute foreign business men, who allegedly offered bribes while doing business in Nigeria even though, he was variously criticised of double standard and perceived selective insincerity in his fight and war against corruption. Many had observed that Ribadu only went after perceived enemies of his boss and the then President, Chef Olusegun Obasanjo. Ribadu had once admitted taking bribe money, as an evidence to prosecute a former Delta State governor, James Ibori. Ribadu had claimed that he was offered bribes to pervert the course of justice by Ibori, who allegedly offered Ribadu a bribe of $15 million and a house abroad. This claim has, however, been refuted by the ex-governor who maintained that the fact the Ribadu put the money in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was not a proof that he actually gave him the bribe money. Another point that may work to his disadvantage is the gang-up by some serving PDP governors, who were said to have begun moves to stop him because it is strongly being insinuated that fielding Ribadu, as candidate for the election could be dangerous, as they were not sure whether he was even being planted by the opposition party in the ruling party with the aim of spying on the government that had been previously criticised by APC of ineptitude, corruption and lacking clear focus in governance. Also, the powerful members of the party, led by the Acting Governor, Ahmed Fintiri, who fought to ensure Governor Nyako was impeached at all cost, were said to be restrategising on how to stop the possible imposition of Ribadu. Lastly, the strong political influence of a former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, though an APC stalwart, cannot be wished away in the political permutation against Ribadu.

As it were, the decamping of Ribadu to PDP is clearly a pointer to the lack of discipline and political ideology on the part of our politicians. We should not fail to state that it is not a sin for people to associate with like minds. It has shown that venturing into partisan politics in this part of the world is not about rendering of service. It is a means to an end in acquiring political and financial influence because one of the fastest and easiest way to make free and easy money in Nigeria in through politics. That is why it remains a do-or-die affair. To them, defection is simply an opportunity to take control of the machinery of governance. Or, what is Ribadu’s convincing argument of leaving the APC? Afterall, the Electoral Act’s proviso that could make a defection legally justifiable is completely inapplicable since the political party (APC) has not disintegrated or fractionalised. With this kind of kangaroo politicking, who suffers most if not the nation? What this ugly trend suggests is that there is no need for a viable opposition that should keep the ruling party on its toes. What happens if he’s refused the PDP ticket? Will he return to APC? I wonder if our politicians like Ribadu ever ponder on what they say in public. I was wondering why would a man who once vowed ‘never to not join the PDP, even if he was offered the presidential ticket for free’, not a long ago, would now be singing a new tune by describing President Goodluck Jonathan of PDP ‘as a great achiever and an answer to the prayers of Nigerians’. Are we sure we know who Nuhu Ribadu is, really?

Kupoluyi writes from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, vide, adewalekupoluyi@yahoo.co.uk, Twitter, @AdewaleKupoluyi


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