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Published On: Wed, Aug 13th, 2014

Calm down, Ribadu won’t defect

Nuhu-RibaduBy Ali M. Ali

All admirers of Nuhu Ribadu should calm down. He will not defect. Unless he is what they thought he wasn’t. I don’t see him pitching his tent in the PDP. History and current reality make crossing to PDP at this juncture, for him, a political hara-kiri. In Adamawa, it is even more suicidal. Presently, the PDP in that state is like being thrown into a container load of rattlesnakes. Anyone that strikes means certain political death.

Unless Ribadu is disconnected from history and reality, I don’t see him making that pricey political error. People can forgive a moral gaffe but a political one? I am sceptical. Nigerians are a forgiving lot. We don’t keep grudges for too long. For instance, most Nigerians have forgiven Ribadu for his sundry infringements as EFCC boss. We have rationalized it as genuine mistakes of a patriot and not that of a willing puppet of a megalomaniac President.

His integrity has been his most sparkling credential. We think he is incorruptible. We see him as the younger version of Buhari-lean, upright and principled. These were the virtues we thought could even make him president some day. But crossing over to another party just to run for office? It will be like being isolated in a room with a bleeding and sweating Patrick Sawyer.

Unless Ribadu is over rated, I am certain he will see the dangers here. The picture to join PDP is uninviting for someone with his reputation. We should calm down therefore, he won’t defect.

Still I don’t understand this. The erstwhile anti corruption czar is about to exercise his constitutional right of ‘freedom of association’ and some people are bellyaching. The media has been awash with the speculation of his defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC).The defection, according to reports, is preparatory to running for his state, Adamawa, political plum-executive governorship.

To that effect, the ground is being ‘cleared’. An automatic ticket awaits him. “Automatic ticket” is another word for breaking house rules for an anointed should he ponder the offer. PDP is not known to provide a level playing field.

Nearly eight years ago, impeached governor, Murtala Nyako enjoyed “automatic ticket”. The former naval chief was, literally, dragged kicking and screaming, from his Sobore Farms, to run for governor. Those in the know say he didn’t invest a penny to be governor.

Note that the powers that hoisted him on nine other protesting aspirants, who had toiled and navigated the Adamawa political terrain longer than the sailor, did that not for selfless reasons.

First among a cocktail of motives was to ‘checkmate’ Vice president Atiku Abubakar, undoubtedly the major political force at the time. Recall, if you may, that there was no love lost between Obasanjo and his estranged second in command. The idea to completely obliterate Atiku politically in his backyard crystallized in the choice of Nyako at the eleventh hour. The chief ‘recruiter’ and promoter of ‘Project Nyako’ was Professor Jibril Aminu who singly and with the iron fisted support of Obasanjo rubbished the other aspirants.

Among the crestfallen were Jonathan Zwingina, Dahiru Bobbo, Awwal Tukur, Abubakar Girei, and Koiranga Jada. All these men were, curiously, disqualified to pave way for Nyako.

Secondly the exiled farmer connected with both Abuja (read: Obasanjo) and Adamawa (read: Prof Aminu). Because he was a soldier, Obasanjo was comfortable with him. Because he presented the image of a clown, Professor Aminu was comfortable with him. Both seemed like weaknesses his promoters thought they could exploit at will. They were wrong.

Truthfully, Nyako was clownish. In action and in speech, the man had a way of making voters guffaw effortlessly. He connected with ordinary folks unconcerned with the politics of resource allocation by his theatrics. The vote, after all, is for someone who knows something about clowning.

That, in a nutshell, is the story of Nyako. It tells us three important things. All of them character defining. One Nyako was a member of the PDP. Two, he was an opportunist. Three, on a level playing political field, he was an upstart. From the looks of things, Ribadu is set to tread that path.

But why the hoopla? Is it because it is Ribadu?

Every day, politicians in this part of the globe switch allegiance. They do it with the ease a certain Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian, our president describes as a ‘madman’, brought the Ebola virus into our shores.

Guilty as charged in the defection audacity is Atiku Abubakar. I am yet to come across a politician with his staying power. The Turakin Adamawa has amazing tenacity. I have seen him snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. I am yet to come across a politician outside power as organized.

When he was forced out of PDP, his ship berthed at the ACN dockyard. In fact, he ran for president on its platform. Despite an evident harvest of electoral doom at the polls, Atiku ran for president on the ACN platform in 2007.The act was one of defiance and personal triumph. This was because a year earlier, in 2006, INEC had disqualified him and therefore, declared him unfit to run for president. He promptly went to court. He won.

By 2010, the ex VP had retraced his steps back to PDP, a substantial percentage of his associates however, stayed put in the ACN. Among them were Musa Gwadabe, Usman Bugaje who was his Political Adviser as no2, Boss Mustapha and several others.

Last year, Atiku again, defected to newly cobbled APC and reunited with some of his associates from ACN. While quitting PDP for the second time, Atiku vowed never to return. From the onset, he made it clear that he was joining the APC not because he wanted to run for President. It was an intelligent move. The perception was that he is obsessed with becoming president.

Though not in Atiku’s class by any stretch of the imagination, Femi Fani-Kayode has defected so frequently to other parties, I have lost track. He had defected from the PDP to APC and back to PDP in a manner that suggests he lacks a political or moral compass. Today nobody bats an eyelid if Fani-Kayode defects to another party.

So why then the hoopla? The question begs for an answer. Yes it is because it is Ribadu. His public persona is such that his admirers find it difficult to fit it into the treacherous politics of PDP in general and Adamawa in particular. It will mean he is guilty of all three vices that defined the character of Nyako. It will mean that he, all along, is no different from all the political charlatans masquerading as patriots. I truly don’t see Ribadu in PDP. We should calm down; he dares not defect just because he wants to be governor.


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