Oh people and residents of the South West, the presidential election is two weeks away and the campaign is reaching its final stretch. Opportunity is at our reach to use this democratic opening in effecting a desirable change, therefore, the choice is ours to make.
Three major candidates are seeking our votes and these are Dr. Ebele Jonathan, the incumbent president, General Muhammad Buhari, and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. Since we are familiar with Jonathan’s record of inconsistency and profligacy, my attention will be on the last two.
I have chosen to address this article to the people of the South West because besides being the bastion of Nigerian intellectuals and where our nation’s economic nerve centre is located, it has the 2nd largest voting bloc in the nation. Also, this region contains the largest number of swing-votes in this election. It is therefore imperative that we vote our conscience and cast our votes based on the antecedents of these leading candidates. Since achieving this might require acquaintance with the personalities of these candidates, it is only desirable that we examine the political antecedents of the candidates.
To start with, Mallam Mallam Nuhu Ribadu antecedents will be firstly examined. I have seen Ribadu talk in forums in the UK and could not but admire him for his courage and passion for change in Nigeria. Ribadu is that man who, during Obasanjo’s reign, fought corruption with rare vigour, although many are of the opinion that he was selective in his approach. Regardless of one’s take on his approach, he made efforts which should be commended. However, I have become increasingly disillusioned and confused by his actions in recent times. One of this recent developments which made me grow disenchanted with Ribadu was a speech which he delivered in Abuja at the launch of a book, entitled: ‘Nigeria: Half a Century of Progress and Challenges’ by Constance Ikokwu, a Deputy Editor with Thisday Newspapers.
Ribadu said, “this is a rich country, 12 years, how much do you think we earn in this country. We earn over $400billion. That money is enough to change Nigeria. That money is wasted. “That money is with few people. That money is with PDP. They messed up. This is a country 12 years they have been in government, they brought bombs and kidnapping to us. We didn’t know all those things before. We cannot say 12 years is too small to make meaningful impacts in people’s lives. That is totally unfair. “This is a country that is so rich in human and natural resources, those who are in charge mess and destroy our chance and possibility to gain a country that all of us will be proud of .Twelve years is big enough for you to make a change in the life of people”- The Nation, 23 March 2011.
Although these are statements of fact, is it not hypocritical of Ribadu to make such comments? Why? we may want to know. Nuhu was part and parcel of the PDP government for 4 of those 12 years and he prides himself as being part of OBJ’s economic team. Based on his role as a prominent member of this economic team, Ribadu has, on a number of occasions, stated that he has garnered the experience needed to rule the country.
If a Ribadu will laud his experience with one side of his mouth and then castigate PDP with the other side of his mouth, one may find that hypocritical. PDP made Ribadu what he is today and at the twilight of his days at the EFCC, he was full of praise for OBJ’s administration, an administration whose party’s “ 12 years [...] in government, […] brought bombs and kidnapping to us. We didn’t know all those things before. We cannot say 12 years is too small to make meaningful impacts in people’s lives. That is totally unfair.” It seems Ribadu is guilty of speaking with both sides of his mouth. One may also contend that such unguided outburst smacks of opportunism than patriotism and further still, portrays him as a desperate politician who is trying to pull others down for him to rise up. El Rufai was able to articulate to Nigerians the reasons why he made a u turn, he accepted some mistakes were made and one cannot remember him castigating 12 years of PDP the way Ribadu has done. This tendency also reminds one of Ribadu´s corruption list of 2007 that included Lanre Tejuosho, somone who never held any government position but whose crime was that he dared contesting against Iyabo Obasanjo.
It appears that Ribadu also showed such tendecious traits in Bode George’s saga. This issue was examined by one Mr Abudugana. As cited in his piercing article, Feb 2007, Nuhu Ribadu as EFCC chairman granted an interview to the The News magazine during which he stated that, “Olabode George was never an executive officer of NPA. He was a part-time Chairman. It is the Executive Managing Director who runs the place; it was the MD’s name that appeared in all the contract papers of NPA. Olabode George was a part-time Chairman whose name was never on any contract paper”.
I marvel, upon the the pronouncement by Justice Olubumi Oyewole which sentenced Olabode George to a deserved two years imprisonment without an option of fine, Nuhu stated that the ruling “is a measure of the shamelessness of our elite and the institutions that fuel their values. That Chief George could be awarded a national honour in our country and that he could later sue some newspapers for libel on account of the damming indictment report I prepared against him.
The foregoing makes Ribadu guilty of capricious speaking; therefore, we have to wonder what could have changed in Ribadu within the last three years. Is the change due to the fact that Ribadu was only playing to the gallery of OBJ when he exonerated Bode George? Only Ribadu can answer this question.
Ribadu’s inconsistency is also shown on his romance with Bola Tinubu. The GEJ team accused Ribadu of lacking integrity by forming bonds with Tinubu while he talked of his corruption being of international dimension. Ribadu was asked a direct question by Kadira Ahmed in the debate on NN24, if Ribadu was able to exonerate Tinubu of corruption of any kind. Ribadu answered by saying he had enormous regards for Bola Tinubu and praised the latter without clearly saying “I can exonerate Bola Tinubu of any kind of corruption” which should have been the reply to Kadira´s direct question.
The issue of Dame Jonathan it is of public knowledge and I will also like to paraphrase from the article. Our attention was brought to a case with suit number FHC/ABJ/M/340/06, filed on August 21, 2007 at the Federal High Court, Abuja. As indicated in this file, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC named Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of Goodluck Jonathan, as an accomplice in the N104million-money laundering case involving one Mrs. Nancy Ebere Nwosu. The amount in question was stated in this file to be laundered on the order of Mrs Patience Goodluck into a First Bank of Nigeria account number 3292010060711 held in the name of Nansolyvan Public Relations Limited by one Hanner Offor.
Another interesting document is the EFFC’s affidavit used in supporting the above mentioned suit’s originating summons. In this document, Ofem Uket, the then EFCC prosecuting officer declared, “Our investigations revealed that Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of the Governor of Bayelsa State, was the person who instructed one Hanner Offor to launder the said sum of N104, 000, 000 into the account of Nansolyvan Public Relations Limited with First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FBN), Niger House, Marina, Lagos”.
Fast forwarding to 2010 and Ribadu said “I never handled a case against Patience Jonathan, never; it’s a lie. You know it is so sad because in our country this is how we go about maligning people. But today thank God I am not in his government. So, I can open up and talk. If I were to say it earlier people would have thought that I was looking for job from President Goodluck Jonathan. I am not looking for anything. But the truth must be told.” (The Nation, September 16, 2010). Clearly, someone is being economical with the truth regarding this issue. We can establish Patience was not the directly accused person but was an accomplice as stated in the suit. It is very strange for Ribadu to insist he had never handled any case involving the president’s wife.
The final straw for me was the widely reported visit of Ribadu accompanied by Bisi Akande to the hilltop mansion of IBB to seek his endorsement for the 2011 election. He received IBB’s generous endorsement for a generational change. Something is clearly not right as Ribadu spent close to two years in Europe and the US campaigning against corruption in Nigeria, speaking about how former leaders squandered billions, how everything was wrong with Nigeria and how Nigeria was in the hands of a selfish cabal. That the same Ribadu now chose to seek the support of a person he had previously castigated is hypocritical in the least.
The generational change being talked about is not a new phenomenon as in the last 12 years. Lots of young people have been governors, ministers and held other plum positions, but allegations of corruption have been thrown at most of them. Saminu Turaki was governor at the age of 36, Orji Kalu was governor at 39, Dimeji Bankole was speaker at 37, Fani Kayode was a minister in his 40s. As the list could go on, so is the case with allegations of corruption and bad administration hanging on their necks. Corruption knows no age and the political will to effect change is not a age thing; a good administrator will be good at 30 and still, be good at 70. I belong to the young generation but at this delicate time in Nigeria’s history, a competent and capable man is what is required.
Since Ribadu´s campaigns has been focused on change and the belief that that the common people could make a change, I wonder why he could not stick to the common people of Niger state instead of seeking the support of a man widely regarded as the one who legalised corruption in Nigeria. More strange was the absence of Tinubu at the visit which depicts his smartness and political sagacity as such appearance might be a political suicide for him in the South West.
Here again, something comes to mind and this is the well-known knowledge on how Tinubu and his boys reportedly fled from Edo state about six months ago on hearing that they were to share a podium with IBB. Is it not contradictory and inconsistent for the same ACN to go visit the same IBB? The same IBB they refused to share a podium with and more strangely this visit was in his home of which he hosted them to lunch.
Nigeria at this juncture requires a consistent leader we know exactly what he stands for. A leader whose words could be taken to the bank and a leader whose support base is not in the hands of a few politicians. Buhari and Bakare appear to be two honest men who posses these qualities and have shown consistency of purpose, sincerity of actions and integrity of character.
The people of the southwest, can we please vote for Buhari and Bakare, whom, we can all confidently say their godfather is the Igbo woman who gave the BB-campaign cars because during the PTF days, she was awarded contracts without ever bribing anyone or seeing Buhari. The BB2011 godfathers are the almajiri and talakwas in the north who identify with the man that has stood by them while others have abandoned them. Buhari´s godfather is the manager of today who benefited from PTF activities while at the university in the mid 90s; his godfather is the common man in the south east village where PTF´s built hospital is still the only hospital in the village. In fact Buharis godfather is you and me and his allegiance will also be to you and me and not the selfish power drunk godfathers.
We should be wary of wolfs who come to us in sheep’s clothing, people who pretend to be what they are not and in El Rufais words “Ribadu is my friend and I know his limitations . .” El Rufai who is Ribadu´s close friend chose to support the Buhari Bakare ticket for a reason of which he has stated. I urge the good people of the south west to vote en masse for Buhari Bakare for a genuine change to come to Nigeria. The BB2011 ticket needs our support for victory; they need our swing-vote in this election, therefore, my appeal is that the good people of the South West should vote for the general who has done it before and can do it again.