By Abubakar Galadima
Ever since former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, indicated an interest in moving to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), disquiet has reigned in the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). As efforts by the party hierarchy to discourage his defection failed, disquiet gradually gave way to disdain and Ribadu became the butt of virulent attacks from his former party men. The hypocrites now take pot shots at his shining service records: while some said he was power-hungry, others labelled him an ungrateful politician. Like eating sour grapes, bitterness within the APC has never been more profound.
The whining in the APC over Ribadu is understandable. Not only does it portray the APC in the worst possible light, it defined the rot in the major opposition camp like never before. Kano governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, tried to make their burden lighter by adding a spin, that it (defection) would turn out Ribadu’s loss more than that of his party. It was a bad way to spin. However one looks at it, the situation in a party must be of the worst kind to make the presidential torch-bearer in one of the legacy parties-ACN-in as recent as the 2011 elections to jump ship.
As the APC sulks over Ribadu, the atmosphere is cheery in the PDP which sees it as the arrival of a brother who has been on an endless sojourn in the wilderness. Even as Ribadu was flying the ACN presidential flag in the 2011 elections, many pundits said he was like a stranger in the party. His sojourn in the opposition camp didn’t just add up because he had PDP blood running in his veins, literally. To buttress the fact that the ruling party connected so well with his principles, the former EFCC boss was in February 2012 appointed to chair the 20-member Petroleum Revenue Special Taskforce. It was the first appointment to be accepted by the former EFCC boss whose tenure at the anti-graft agency drew accolades during the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, and as he enthused, it was an opportunity to be part of the Jonathan administration’s efforts to sanitise the petroleum industry.
The question is: was he really a committed opposition politician? The answer, of course, is no; Ribadu has always been a sojourner in the APC. His sojourn, first in the ACN, which later teamed up with others to become APC, was for him an eye opener: the renowned anti-corruption Czar was forced to dine with strange bedfellows who had no respect for either political due process or party internal democracy. In spite of their ‘progressive’ tag, he must have found out to his dismay that the APC does not practise the ideals it preaches.
While he lasted in the opposition enclave, it was easy for Ribadu to emerge as its moral compass, working hard to ensure the party walks its talk. Whether it earned him the 2011 presidential ticket of the ACN on merit, or he was simply one of the political guinea-pigs in Bola Tinubu’s political laboratory is not the issue here. What was most irritating was the treacherous manner in which Tinubu, the ACN godfather purportedly traded away his support base for a mess of financial pottage, and turned Ribadu into a political orphan.
As far as the 2011 presidential election was concerned, Ribadu who only won in Osun State, was for the most part, on his own. The much support he garnered across the country was largely on the force of his moral persona, and in spite of Tinubu and his band of renegades. It is still that moral force that is at play in Adamawa, where he has explained that his decision to quit the APC for the PDP was taken in the state’s overriding interest. Any honest man who seeks to serve requires a platform devoid of deceit and unnecessary baggage. Few weeks ago, shortly after the impeachment of Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako as governor, the same Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande had committed another faux pax. The APC leaders had asked their former presidential candidate whom they knew was preparing for another shot at the presidency, to forget the idea and go for the governorship of Adamawa state instead. It was perfidy of the worst kind.
Abubakar Atiku whom he had indicted for corruption charges as EFCC chairman in 2006, was no less treacherous. Though he learnt long ago that Atiku’s politics is defined by his interest and not the collective good, he must have wondered how he co-habited with the man for that long. The last straw, of course, was the man’s cat-and-mouse game during the battle to save Governor Nyako from imminent impeachment. Unlike Ribadu who had fought doggedly for Nyako’s survival, Atiku clearly worked against the interest of the party in which he was supposed to be one of its leaders. To be saddled with such a character going into the Adamawa poll was to make his aspiration to serve his people, dead on arrival. When you add the insincerity and large baggage of corruption by other known leaders of the APC, Ribadu knew it was time to go.
Ribadu may have returned to where he really belongs but for the APC, the consequences are dire indeed. By joining the PDP which flag he is expected to fly in the Adamawa governorship election in October, if he wins the party primary, Ribadu’s defection can rightly be interpreted that the APC has no fighting chance in a state it only recently lost. Or could Ribadu have abandoned the party if his chances were brighter there? The second, and perhaps the most fatal, is that Ribadu’s bold move has likely opened the exit door to several other dispirited politicians who are increasingly becoming uncomfortable with the arbitrariness in the APC.
Abubakar Galadima wrote in from Abuja.