That former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu formally decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is no longer news. Mixed reactions have trailed his defection with most of them being condemnations.
The practice of defection to favorable political climates is a normal and acceptable political culture amongst Nigerian politicians. Political parties in Nigeria, especially in this era are mere platforms to stand for election rather than organizations governed by definite ideologies geared towards the creation, articulation, adoption and execution of policies and programmes for the benefit and welfare of citizens.
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was thrown into the spotlight in 2003 when he was seconded from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) by then President, General Olusegun Obasanjo to be the pioneer Executive Chairman of the newly formed Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), an agency set up to fight the scourge of political and economic corruption, fraud, money laundering and related crimes. During his hey days, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu carried out his duties in an overzealous manner abusing human rights in the process. While his actions in prosecuting and disgracing corrupt officials were noble, many still suspected his motives and intentions; especially since he was perceived to be focused only on actual and perceived enemies of Obasanjo. His activities generated worldwide media attention such that he became the poster boy of the fight against corruption; part of Obasanjo’s grand plan to reintegrate Nigeria into the international community; a deliberate and calculated attempt to prove to the western world that Nigeria was indeed serious about the fight against corruption – rightly adjudged as the principal problem of Nigeria, a country Transparency International still ranks as one of the most corrupt in the world.
Corruption is immoral and the ferocity of Ribadu’s fight against corruption at the time created a moral and principled deity out of him in the eyes and perception of observers.
Post EFCC era, many still believed Ribadu had much to offer the Nigerian nation in terms of positive change. I am not one of those. Inter-party defection only serves to portray the defector as a political opportunist seeking greener political pastures; Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is not an exception. I believe that today, as always, Ribadu is not different from any other typical Nigerian politician seeking to improve their political and financial fortunes and relevance. I am definitely not surprised that Ribadu decamped to the PDP. Evidently, the PDP represents a platform to actualize his gubernatorial ambition. Ribadu comes across to me as an opportunist riding on the waves of the acclaim and popularity his stint at the EFCC conferred on him.
For all those who had deified Ribadu and are consequently disappointed in him, he was just an ordinary police officer who by a stroke of fate was appointed by circus master – President Obasanjo who pulled his puppet strings to hound enemies. Ribadu has overtly stepped down from his moral high-horse – one he rode with reckless abandon to trample on actual and perceived anti-OBJ elements during his EFCC days.
Our country, Nigeria deserves men and women who will not only be seen as serving the interests of Nigerians but actually be doing that. A population marching on 200 million can certainly afford men and women whose character and competence have not been tainted by suspicion and mistrust; whose motives are not being called to question.
While some may argue that our democracy is still evolving, I say present political players are making the evolution of ours painfully slow. The problems that plague Nigeria at this stage of our evolution can easily be solved by a sincere and honest leader with integrity, courage and strength of character than a “competent” one. We know the popular quotation of universities when awarding degrees to graduands saying that they have been found worthy in “learning and character”. Our rulers are not necessarily lacking in learning; neither do they lack the requisite knowledge and experience to perform. What they lack is the character and intent to perform. Their focus is more on acquiring dizzying heights of wealth than on governance.
Societies naturally regulate both individual and collective conduct. I find it a step in the right direction that many Nigerians condemned Ribadu’s defection. It is an indication there are many who still place a high premium on strict adherence to principles, ethics and morality. As much as I wish him success in the actualization of his ambitions and future endeavors, Ribadu risks further demystification if he fails in the PDP.
Toks Ero blogs at www.toksero.org/ @tokser
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