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Mustapha Abdullahi: Adamawa Guber, Can Nuhu Ribadu Be Trusted?

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The biggest news of the Nigerian politics in the past one week is unarguably the movement of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). For those who might have forgotten, the former EFCC czar, was also the presidential candidate of the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2011 general elections. Needless to point out that Ribadu followed ACN in its metamorphosis into All Progressives Congress (APC). But in what is now the familiar pattern of political nomadism by Nigerian politicians, Ribadu has jumped out of APC and into the PDP. He did that with his formal declaration in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State over the weekend. “I would like to appreciate those members of the PDP, who privately and publicly prodded me to join this party. My appreciation also to the leadership of our party (PDP) for the warm reception accorded me deserving of any full-fledged party stalwart…This kind (of) reception did not start today; it began from the day I signified the intention of joining this great party. Today, I come to you as a full blown party member, who defines himself in the spirit of community service and party development…” the former APC stalwart enthused.

The defection of Ribadu to the PDP may be ruffling a few feathers here and there. For the APC, the loss of Ribadu signifies yet another deadly blow from its eternal rival, the ruling party, in recent times. Much as the leadership of APC would want to wish away the loss of Ribadu as insignificant, the truth remains that with the loss of Ribadu, APC has not lost a vote mobilizer; it has certainly lost about forty percent of its supposed integrity quotient, with the remaining sixty per cent domiciled in General Muhammadu Buhari. And because ours is a zero-sum game, the loss of APC is therefore PDP’s gain. So with the capture of Ribadu, PDP can now brag also about its integrity bank – that is if Ribadu still carries the aura of integrity for which he was wittingly or unwittingly known during his EFCC days.

Even then, the PDP that ought to be celebrating the big catch, which Ribadu exemplifies, is not much at ease with this very important sojourner. There are many within the ruling party who fear that APC has just sold them a pig in a poke. For this group, the real electoral value of the former EFCC boss in his home state of Adamawa is yet to be known and therefore wonder why the PDP must invest time, resources and energy in receiving him into the party. That Ribadu has made it absolutely clear from the outset that he has his eyes on the forthcoming Adamawa gubernatorial election even makes his case worse. What it means, therefore, is that much as Ribadu would talk glowingly and altruistically about service to community as the leitmotif for his defection to the PDP, it does appear that selfish ambition is at the root of his new political peregrination. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu wants to be the governor of Adamawa State and he thinks that PDP presents the surer pathway to the government house in Yola.

Much as a certain section of the Adamawa PDP whines about the seeming and alleged support of the presidency for Ribadu in the Adamawa governorship race, the national leadership of the PDP must approach the Ribadu project with greater circumspection. The Adamawa PDP crisis has raged far too long for even a casual observer to understand that a veiled support or bias for one of the gubernatorial aspirants either by the presidency or the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP can only exacerbate a crisis that has already claimed the scalps of a former national chairman and the immediate past governor, to boot. It would rather be naïve for anybody to think that anointing Ribadu as the PDP candidate in Adamawa gubernatorial election would translate into a makeover for the many chinks that have developed in the party structure in the state. Apart from the bad blood it will certainly generate among the political gladiators in the state, it carries a more worrying danger of a negative outcome at the polls for the party. Once again, the “Ribadu Project” in Adamawa – if there is anything like that – must be handled with great caution before the little intra-party harmony, which came with the ouster of Murtala Nyako, is recklessly dissipated with the PDP going to the polls as a house divided against itself. The worst thing that can happen to the PDP in Adamawa is to hand victory over to the APC as a result of an unpopular decision to foist a candidate without any proven electoral value on party members and the people of Adamawa who suffered so much in the hands of a confused and megalomaniac sailor.

Beyond the issue of the electoral value of Ribadu and the high potential of adversarial politics that an official support for his candidature would breed in the Adamawa PDP, there is a more serious concern. Can Nuhu Ribadu be trusted by the PDP? What guarantees have those putting Ribadu forward as the PDP gubernatorial candidate secured from the former police officer? How sure are those celebrating the capture of Ribadu that he is not a Trojan horse tactically placed by the APC to decimate PDP from within? No doubt, Ribadu has a lot of guts and zeal, characteristics that easily made him the poster boy for Nigeria’s war against corruption in the eyes of many, especially the western countries. But he also bubbles with an over dose of arrogance, single-mindedness and an inclination to sidestepping due process. This persona, he could not conceal in his defection speech when he stated inter alia that; “I am not here on anyone’s errand. I want to stress the point also that I am here on my own….” The Ribadu the public know is the one who can become governor with the help of the PDP and re-join the like of Atiku Abubakar in APC the morning after his inauguration if rubbed on the wrong side. One only hopes that the Presidency is not about to make another mistake in Adamawa by installing another Nyako as governor; that is if the rumours doing the round that his movement to the PDP had the imprimatur of the Presidency are credible!

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Written by Mustapha Abdullahi.

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