PRESIDENTIAL POLL: POSERS FOR RIBADU
Politics, as usual, makes strange bedfellows. The Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), has at least demonstrated its lack of depth by fielding Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as its presidential candidate. Few people would have imagined they would ever see the day when Ribadu and Czar of ACN would ever walk the same side of the political divide. But desperate and drowning individuals always need company.
Just four years ago, it was not always so. To the proprietor of the ACN and his associates, Ribadu was once regarded as public enemy number one. In due course, it will become apparent why and how the AC and Ribadu are trying desperately, attempting to rewrite history. For now, the most urgent task is to present the unwritten stories of Ribadu's summersaults and deliberate concealments of extremely important matters involving public interest.
Because most Nigerians are very forgetful and because the Jonathan/Sambo administration has been magnanimous, Ribadu is walking about Nigeria today declaiming about corruption even when he still has the problem of accountability and transparency hanging on his neck at the EFCC which he left without being courteous enough to summit a hand over note till today, in a flagrant disregarded for the ethos of public service everywhere in the world. Nigeria will recollect the valiant, but futile effort of the incumbent EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, to get Ribadu to come and render the account of his stewardship. He left some unresolved riddles which started to unfold in 2007 and remain with us till today.
Perhaps in his bid for re-appointment to a second term, the government of Olusegun Obasanjo led us to believe that the EFCC under Ribadu recovere $5 billion. The People's Democratic Party (PDP), was so delighted with the 'achievement', it made that achievement part of its campaign in 2007. But, soon after the sleight of hand, Ribadu went on record, after the elections, to announce that only N53 billion was recovered.
Given an exchange rate of N130/$1 in 2007, $5 billion would have meant N650 billion. The discrepancy between N650 billion and N57billion remains N579billion. Till today, Ribadu had never thought it fit to tell Nigerians how much was actually collected. That was bad enough.
Worse still was what the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), told Nigerians. Fortunately, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo is still alive. He was then the Governor of the CBN, he revealed a truth which should have stunned Nigerians, if we were not totally immune to shocks, that the apex bank had not received a kobo of either $5billion or N53billion. That should have prompted the National Assembly to institute an inquiry into where the loot was/is kept. The law prescribes that all monies collected on behalf of the Federal Government must be paid to the CBN.
The most important questions then and now remain the same. Where was/ is the money kept? If in banks, other than CBN, on what terms? Lack of accountability and transparency is itself the beginning and the end of corruption. Any man with real as opposed to 'media', integrity, should have answered in 2007 the question raised, but then, Ribadu was an untouchable in 2007 and the frenzy of election allowed him to get away with what was probably a major dereliction of duty - if not an indictable offence.
Everybody should also recollect Ribadu's roles in the Chief Bode George saga. First, Ribadu announced, with the usual fanfare that the EFCC had filed multiple charges against George. Later, Ribadu, with less publicity, quietly withdrew the charges. When challenged by the media, the former EFCC chairman asked anyone who had any evidence against George to come forward with it. What then did he take to court in the first instance? The story developed another twist when the new EFCC chairperson re-opened the case and obtained a conviction. Ribadu, from far away United States, sent a statement to news media in Nigeria claiming credit for the result. Haba! Can anyone tell us where the integrity in this is?
On March 26, 2009, Ribadu, in a hand-written witness statement submitted to the London Metropolitan Police accused Bola Tinubu of diverting the proceeds of the sale of V-Mobile shares belonging to Lagos State Government. Tinubu was forced to take out advertorials in several newspapers to defend himself. Clearly, somebody was lying. Did Tinubu fiddle with Lagos money by diverting funds from shares sales or did Ribadu submit a false deposition? Either way, something stinks. Again, can anyone point to anything honourable in all these?
Yet, these are not exceptions to the rule. On the contrary, they represent a fair rendition of what the Ribadu years at the EFCC were all about. The real Ribadu and media Ribadu was a mirage foisted on the public. These are irrefutable facts which demonstrate that 'Mr. Integrity Ribadu' is probably the greatest myth ever created in this country. But, let us end by reminding our people of one incident forgotten so soon. The Federal Government in 2007 allowed appointed officials occupying government houses to buy them. The former EFCC chairman, like others, applied to buy his own official residence.
•Adeola, Media Consultant and Public Affairs analyst, sent this piece from Abuja.