Factors that influenced ACN Ribadu's choice as candidate
Right from day the Action Congress (AC) transformed to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), leaders have never pretended that they want to present a credible northerner as its presidential candidate. The leadership looked for credible leaders from the North that could match the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the general election. Therefore, the leaders attempted, through several alliance talks, to reach an understanding with some of the political parties that have credible northern leaders as their leading lights.
Apart from the attempt to form a mega party, the leadership of the ACN was involved in serious talks on how to reach an understanding with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) led by former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. The talks, despite all assurances that it would work, broke down last week. Each party involved in the talks has named its presidential candidate.
Perhaps, the fact that the leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and chairman of the party, Bisi Akande, are leading politicians from the South West, has made the party to appear as one for the Yoruba. Consequently, ACN leaders are not in any doubt that political opponents would automatically pronounce the ACN as a tribal party. To avoid such name-calling, which would certainly result in electoral failure in five other geographical zones, the party leaders seem to have no alternative but to present somebody from the North as the presidential candidate of the party.
One of the party leaders told Saturday Sun on condition of anonymity that the ACN leaders were, indeed, worried about the need to get a credible candidate from the North. He revealed that the quest to have such credible leaders caused the party to talk to such personalities as Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Also, recently, some members of the party talked former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa into joining the race for the presidential ticket. Bafarawa had formed the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) in 2007, with which he contested that year's presidential election.
One of the party's member told Saturday Sun: 'The truth is that since Nuhu Ribadu and El-Rufai returned from self- exile, party leaders considered drafting one of them into the presidential race. But I should let you know that majority of the leaders preferred Ribadu. The young man was practically drafted into the race by the ACN leaders. Ask Ribadu himself and you will discover that the idea to run for office is not necessarily his.'
When Olatunji Dare, the respected journalist based in the United States launched a book on June 12 last year, the event attracted a large section of the elite, at the MUSON Centre located in the heart of Lagos. At the event, leaders of the party practically pleaded with Ribadu to consider joining the presidential race. Tinubu had remarked when he was invited to speak: 'I read some speculations in the papers. If it is true, I will be ready to support it. I thank you for not making up stories to detain me when you were in charge of EFCC.'
Amid laughter and clippings, Tinubu emphasised the fact that if Ribadu had so wished, he could have made up some stories and detained him. He also pointed out that the same Ribadu had named him as one of the governors being investigated when he was in charge of the EFCC. Ribadu laughed heartily.
But Ayodele Adebowale, the young and ebullient chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos made no pretence to his commitment to back Ribadu. When he was invited to speak, he told the Ribadu that as a student union leader, he supported Abiola without taking money from him. Sounding patronising, the young man pleaded with Ribadu to take up the gauntlet and contest the presidential election.
What seemed to attract Ribadu to the ACN leaders is his credibility and the attention he attracted, both nationally and internationally, as the anti-drug czar. Many party members wanted an incorruptible person. They also wanted someone with no political baggage. They wanted someone with a pedigree. All these informed the choice of the political party's presidential candidate, as decided by delegates to its national convention, which held in Lagos.