A WORD FOR RIBADU
Presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has generated much furore during this brief period of his presidential campaign, demonising and lambasting President Goodluck Jonathan at the slightest opportunity.
Ribadu himself is a bundle of internal contradictions, twirled around conflicting idiosyncrasies and unresolved dramatic sequences. He is also a master of discriminative and selective justice, and, of course, of double-speak.
Let us commence with the case of Chief Bode George. In May 2007, Mallam Ribadu exonerated the Peoples Democratic Party chieftain of any wrongdoing as the 'ceremonial' chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority. He said there was no concrete evidence to prosecute George over the NPA corruption case. He therefore challenged any Nigerian who had proof to the contrary to come forward with such evidence.
A news magazine published incriminating evidence against George, but the EFCC boss looked the other way. Immediately after George was jailed, Ribadu rushed an email to a newspaper jubilating over the verdict and claiming credit for his (Ribadu's) investigative ingenuity. He said the verdict was a 'reference point in investigation and trial of corruption in Nigeria.' This is one of the greatest manifestations of double-speak in recent history.
Today Ribadu dines and wines with the same politicians he condemned in very damning terms when he was the anti-corruption czar at the EFCC. In fact, in a macabre and ironic twist of fate, Ribadu and his strange bedfellows are now politically united and integrated even more than the human mind can comprehend.
In September 2006, Ribadu, with quantum evidence on the floor of the Senate, condemned 31 then serving governors. Among them were Bola Tinubu (Lagos), Chris Ngige (Anambra), Saminu Turaki (Jigawa), Achike Udenwa (Imo), George Akume (Benue), Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto). But today, Tinubu and the aforementioned ex-governors are not merely members of the ACN, of which Ribadu is the presidential candidate, but they are the pillars and strength of Ribadu's presidential campaign organization.
Ribadu condemned all of them these immortal words: 'The former governor of Lagos State and others should consider themselves as very lucky.
They ought to have been where Joshua Dariye, Ayo) Fayose, Diepreye Alamieyesiegha are today (prison). They cannot escape. It is a matter of time. They have the protection of the law. They have immunity. The Constitution is against indicted people. After their tenure they will be prosecuted. They remain indicted and are not fit to hold public positions.'
Turaki was accused of 'diversion of funds and using state funds to sponsor pilgrims' to Saudi Arabia; Bafarawa was accused of 'financial misappropriation'; Udenwa of 'diverting N56 million from each of the 24 local governments for an abandoned road project'; Ngige of 'inflating contracts.' It is a shameless travesty that today Ribadu is the presidential candidate of a party bankrolled and sustained by these politicians.
Ribadu's characteristic ribaldry has forced Nigerians to take a second and hard look at the man who everyone thought was like Caesar's wife – above board. Nigerians need to look through the holier-than-thou faÃ§ade of Ribadu to see the inconsistency, the controversy, the confusion and internal contradictions raging in the mental network of the ACN presidential candidate.
For instance, it will take some hundreds of years for a Deputy Commissioner of Police to save billions of naira for such a capital-intensive political venture in Nigeria. Is Ribadu telling Nigerians that he has not invested in the ACN? Where did he get the money? Or was the salary of a Deputy Commissioner of Police enough for Ribadu to junket round the whole world immediately after he was dismissed from the Nigeria Police? Nigerians did not take James Ibori's accusations of corruption against Ribadu seriously but Nigerians are beginning to see clearly now.
It is good to be ambitious but to be boisterously over-ambitious is an over-estimation of one's inherent values and characterization. So what are Ribadu's presidential qualities? Actually none that is decipherable. Ribadu was for 25 years a policeman, but is now a politician. My advice to Ribadu is to really cleanse himself of the police mentality before queuing for political experience and maturity.
It is true ACN needs a northerner to bolster and strengthen its regional and parochial inferiority complex. Ribadu is like a masquerade who in his haste forgot to dress in his hideout only to dance naked in public. ACN does not lack former northern governors skilled in the art of political brinksmanship. Ribadu lacks the political experience and maturity that makes a president in a complex and sophisticated society like Nigeria.
For instance, President Goodluck Jonathan started as an ordinary PDP member. He became Deputy Governor, Acting Governor, Governor, Vice President, Acting President and finally President. Even in America, you do not just become president from the blues. You must have been a state or federal legislator, or a governor for several years. Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush were both governors while Barack Obama was both a state and federal legislator for several years before becoming America's president. Ribadu's only qualification is that he is Fulani from Adamawa State in northern Nigeria. And ACN believes in the wabozian philosophy of a permanent Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba hegemony in Nigeria, oblivious of Nigeria's changing political climate.
The ACN is without doubt a South West-based regional party with every other position apart from the presidential slot coming from the South West. For instance, the chairman and leader of the party are from the South West. The Board that controls the party has a vibrant South West character and, of course, the vice president is from the South West. Do we need any more proof to show that the ACN is not only an unserious party but is an exercise in political immaturity and futility?
Unfortunately too, Ribadu does not have political clairvoyance. If not Alhaji Atiku Abubakar's experience in the old Action Congress, which metamorphosed into the ACN, was enough to warn Ribadu of the thorny path ahead. Nigeria is a highly complex nation to govern. We are not talking about the Gambia with just a population of about 1.5 million. We are talking of a nation of over 150 million people with an intricate network of complexities and political give-and-take.
It will be too late for Ribadu to realize that even his state, Adamawa, will not vote for him. But it is not too late for Ribadu to retrace his steps and save his political future so as not to be like Atiku who found out too late. A word is enough for the wise.