“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.”
That was me last week. So Nuhu Ribadu, the anti corruption czar has a price? I, like a lot of his admirers, used to think, the man was priceless. We thought wrongly. Having been a super cop, we thought he would be a super politician. We, again, thought incorrectly. We thought, albeit erroneously, that he will bring to bear, on his politics, the same work ethics that made him a star and earned him global respect as the nation’s foremost anti corruption fighter.
Even the uncharitable acknowledged Ribadu’s sterling virtues-fearlessness, incorruptibility, integrity and telling truth to power. In one fell swoop, these earned him a place in the nation’s desolate hall of fame. He became a hero overnight to us, ordinary folks, mired into the ground under the iron heel of thieving elites. We dismissed the loud protests of those he injured in the course of his onerous cause, as the whimper of the guilty, making excuses for those infringements.
The uncharitable insisted that even at the time, he was a mere puppet in the hands of a master puppeteer who knew his price well ahead of us, the besotted tribe of fawning admirers.
Ribadu’s passion in fighting corruption rekindled hope in a generation primed to tread the ignoble path of a wasted generation. His sojourn in fighting the nation’s biggest scourge created records.
According to Wikipedia “the EFCC charged prominent bankers, former as well as serving State governors, ministers, Senate presidents, high-ranking political party members, commissioners of Police, and advance fee fraud (“419”) gang operators. The EFCC issued thousands of indictments and achieved about 270 convictions. One notable case was that of his boss, the then Inspector-General of the Nigerian Police Force, Mr.Tafa Balogun, who was convicted, jailed and made to return £150 million under a plea bargain.
Ribadu’s achievements in the EFCC included the de-listing of Nigeria from the FATF List of Non-Cooperative Countries & Territories, admission into the prestigious Egmont Group and the withdrawal of the US Treasury FINCEN Advisory on Nigeria. They helped make the EFCC the foremost Anti-Corruption Enforcement Agency on the continent, cementing Ribadu’s reputation in the world as a respected anti-corruption crusader.”
When he took charged as pioneer chair of EFCC in 2003,he was 43,the same age as Nasir El-Rufai when he became FCT minister. By PDP standards, where a 60 year old was once the ‘youth leader’ and a 80 year old, party chair, the duo would be considered ‘teenagers’ to run the affairs of their charge.
His credentials as a fearless and incorruptible cop in a sea of pervasive sleaze belonged to the realm of make-belief. My generation turned him into a hero. His persona loomed even larger after he was shabbily treated and eventually booted out of the EFCC ending on almost a tragic note his wayfaring by forces not unconnected to corruption.
Inquisition into his tenure found him taintless. At no point was Ribadu found culpable of material gratification. There was the case of $15 million bribe offered by the now convicted James Ibori, which Ribadu collected and tendered as exhibit to nail the former governor. Accounts of this epic bribe vary but one fact was constant-the money was offered and somebody collected.
So what is Ribadu’s price? Having considered all the variables, I have come to the sobering conclusion; the man is driven by quest for power.
Some are hooked on drugs, some on money and some on glory. Ribadu’s poison is power.
Minus any sugar coating his defection was squarely and expressly for one thing –government house Yola. His cross carpeting was induced by the sweet smelling aroma of executive authority, which beckons. That is why he could swing 360 degrees and swim in the murky waters of those he once cut down to size. In PDP are such elements.
For sure his volte-face didn’t start last weekend. It didn’t even start in 2010 when he joined the ACN, a party whose most visible investor was Bola Tinubu, a politician, Ribadu indicted for graft. His power mongering manifested in grabbing the presidential ticket offered by a man who, only four years earlier, would have handcuffed him.
With the benefit of hindsight, we missed the tell tale signs that Ribadu has all along been a politician-opportunistic, lacking in principle, prepared to cut corners at the drop of the heart. We over rated him. As EFCC boss, he was truly selective. He punished his boss’s enemies and spoke tongue-in-cheek about his friends. Examples abound. One such was the case of former governor of Kano state Ibrahim Shekarau in the case of some fertilizer contract gone awry.
I, like all his admirers, was heartbroken by his defection. But having thought about it hard, I have come to the sobering conclusion that all along the man is just a politician-foxy, flexible and lacking in principle. All these talk about ‘rescuing’ Adamawa state by some sympathizers is bunkum. So is the talk about no clear difference between APC and PDP. Another boloney. My initial angst was that I took Ribadu seriously, rated him very highly forgetting that he is a politician. A politician, according to Tony Wilson, is a man of many words. Ribadu just proved that. He has defected, deal with it.