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Why I Miss Ribadu - By Dolapo Abimbola

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The first time I heard of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was when he was appointed Chairman of the EFCC. Like many Nigerians, I didn't care much. To me, he was just another appointee who wouldn't deliver.

During his term as the chairman of the anti-corruption agency, I read news reports on how he prosecuted corrupt politicians and businessmen. Then, the fear of Ribadu and the EFCC was the beginning of wisdom. People would make jokes such as 'I'll report you to EFCC' 'Ribadu is coming after you', etc. Gradually, Ribadu's story aroused my interest; it was refreshing to know that someone was at least making an effort to fight corruption in Nigeria.

I quickly formed an impression of Nuhu Ribadu; a good impression. A few months after that, fresh stories of how he was being used by President Obasanjo evolved. Naturally, these stories gave me mixed feelings. A part of me thought 'Well, all the public officers in Nigeria are the same, what did I expect; the other part thought 'But all the people Ribadu goes after are corrupt and guilty in some way.

I made up my mind; I chose to believe that if anyone is as much as exposing thieving politicians in Nigeria, that person is an honourable man. I liked the idea that our so called ' Big Men ' could be brought to book. I decided to turn a deaf ear to the negative stories. For me, a person who takes on the difficult task of fighting corruption is courageous knowing full well that 'when you fight corruption, corruption fights back'.

Amid the rumours and news reports, I took it upon myself to read up on Nuhu Ribadu. I found that he's a lawyer who decided to become a policeman because he wanted to serve his nation. That strengthened my already positive opinion of him.

Last year, I attended Professor Wole Soyinka's 76 th birthday lecture organised by the National Association Seadogs (NAS) at the Muson Centre in Lagos. Ribadu was the keynote speaker. I listened to him speak with passion about how great our country should be. He wasn't the greatest orator but I felt his message. I listened with rapt attention and thought to myself 'This man truly loves Nigeria. He spoke about his years as a policeman and how seeing an officer stop to carry an abandoned corpse off the road prompted him to join the force. I whispered to the person sitting next me 'this kind of person should be President, you know?' The man smiled and nodded in agreement.

After his speech, my guardian and big daddy, Mr Felix Adenaike, a veteran journalist, introduced me to Ribadu; a totally unassuming gentle man. I had previously heard that he's arrogant and quite stuck up, so I was a bit hesitant. Meeting him, I observed nothing of the sort. He spoke softly and allowed some of the guests take pictures with him. I left the event with a better impression of Nuhu Ribadu.

As the 2011 elections neared, I read that Nuhu Ribadu had declared his intention to run for president. I was elated, first because the idea had crossed my mind at Professor Soyinka's birthday where he was the keynote speaker. There was no question, Ribadu was my candidate. I was thrilled by the fact that a young courageous man was stepping out to become Nigeria's president. A friend of mine said to me 'I like him too, but what are his chances? You know they won't let him win'. That didn't matter to me; I was ready to queue up behind an honourable man and lose than join the bandwagon.

So, the race began and my mind was made. Soon after, I joined Team Ribadu , a group of young intellectuals across Nigeria who believed in Ribadu's ability to lead Nigeria. We gathered at a camp in Abuja and assigned ourselves roles. I enjoyed the brainstorming session with my peers. The camp was motivating; agents of change from all over Nigeria shared ideas on how to galvanize more youth to support the Ribadu campaign. While I was there, I met Ribadu again and he immediately recognized me. I thought it was quite intelligent of him given the number of people he meets every day. He spoke to us about his plans for Nigeria and how he would implement them. Tears came to my eyes as I listened; his concern for Nigeria was genuine.

I left the Team Ribadu camp all fired up. I engaged everyone who cared to listen -- family, friends, strangers, especially co-workers. I got into constructive debates with many. Some were of the opinion that he had no experience, some didn't have a tangible reason, they just didn't like him; which was expected and acceptable. I convinced as many as I could and my message was simple: vote for a proven track record. I didn't declare that Ribadu is perfect as no-one is, but I preached that of all the contenders for the presidency, Ribadu was the one with the courage to break Nigeria away from the bondage of corruption without caring whose ox is gored.

The elections got closer and the campaigns went into full swing, Team Ribadu didn't have sufficient funding, but we carried on. The the more I engaged Nigerians, the more I realized that many Nigerians were not ready for change. I asked a few young people why they wanted to vote for GEJ, they had no specific reason; they just wanted Goodluck and fresh air, simple. One of my peers asked me why I didn't want to vote for GEJ. I said to him, 'I like Goodluck Jonathan; he strikes me as one with good intentions, but I don't think he can deliver the goods'. That was and still is my opinion.

Election day came. Naturally, I cast my vote for Ribadu. GEJ won hands down and by popular demand. The election was free and fair. The polls didn't favour my candidate at all; I wasn't happy, but I was fulfilled. I congratulated all my friends from the winning party and I prayed that God would give GEJ the grace to restore sanity to Nigeria.

Nuhu Ribadu on the other hand moved on, he was appointed by the United Nations to fight corruption in Afghanistan. The irony of a man being called to help fix the same crisis his own nation is plagued with. Regardless, I'm certain he'll do an excellent job.

I miss Ribadu. I miss him especially because of the recent bombings and unending crisis in Nigeria: Boko Haram, kidnappings, etc. I cannot say that he would have performed a miracle but I imagine that we would have progress reports on matters affecting our security. I miss him mostly because I don't see any passion and hunger for change around. It is so discouraging, I doubt that all the singers of Fresh Air are still as enthusiastic as they were pre-election.

Everyday I worry about the state of our nation and it breaks my heart. Nigerians are quick to say 'it is well, let us continue to pray' (I wonder what else God is expected to do after blessing us with many natural resources; resources many developed countries don't enjoy). We'll keep praying. I pray for our President. Sir, you need to move with precision or you'll come and go like the rest of them. Please do something, so help you God.

NR, you are sorely missed.
Ms Dolapo Abimbola can be reached at