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On Nuhu Ribadu’s Controversial Second Coming By Philips Akpoviri

February 9, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan has at different points encountered a floodgate of scathing denigrations over a few of his actions as president of the federal republic of Nigeria. At some other times, some perceived inactions have exposed him to ridicule and mean vitriol from several Nigerian commentators and bloggers.

President Goodluck Jonathan has at different points encountered a floodgate of scathing denigrations over a few of his actions as president of the federal republic of Nigeria. At some other times, some perceived inactions have exposed him to ridicule and mean vitriol from several Nigerian commentators and bloggers.

One of such areas when the president has laid supine vulnerable to vicious attacks is in the erection of panels and committees which more often than not generate recommendations that are almost never remembered let alone used after their frenzied presentations. Critics rightly argue that these are but otiose splurges which only serve as canals for thieving and lavishing our depleted limited state funds.

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Earlier in the week, the federal government of Nigeria created yet another committee. This new one has been specially christened the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force. According to the release, the body would be chaired by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the erstwhile anti-corruption czar and former opposition presidential aspirant on the stable of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria.

Moments following the pronouncement, I had an engaging discourse with two friends. While I found myself on the same boat with one, the other argued fervently and vehemently against the appointment, opining that the most honourable response from Nuhu Ribadu would be an outright rejection of the offer to lead the committee or any other President Jonathan-propelled initiative for that matter.

I have since seen the barrage of criticisms and cynicism his kinds have frothed across the place.

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But, how would a people so rightly desperate to battle corruption to a standstill view with definitive sinister suspicion the appointment of someone with an enviable track record in such discipline? How would a disconsolate set of people who yearned, prayed and fought to unearth the stinking can of worms in the petroleum industry seriously call to question the constitution of a committee to right the wrongs and enforce due process in the nation’s darling money spinning sector? I wondered and still do.

Not so long ago, Nuhu Ribadu writing from his new base in Afghanistan responded in the affirmative to the appointment as I expected. The former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission boss cheerfully accepted the appointment and unequivocally volunteered his expertise to help our waning nation reduce her burdensome corruption deficits.

As one would ordinarily expect, the buzz and fuss associated with the controversial Nuhu Ribadu brand have started emanating on the blogosphere. Just like my other friend, quite a number of Nigerians see him as a shady character in an evolving script yet to be screened. By some rather indecipherable logic, and somewhat paranormal permutations, this new appointment has been promptly linked – both constructively and destructively – with several other names vis-à-vis the 2015 Aso Rock anticipated vacancy.

I am not a fan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party neither am I an aficionado of President Goodluck Jonathan’s leadership philosophy, but my unlikableness is unmistakeably based on principles following my interpretations of their government’s actions and inactions and their impacts on me both as a patriotic tax-paying citizen and as an objective budding social commentator who civilly demands what he truly deserves from his government.

Suffice to say that every of our crucial national transaction must not compulsorily be tabled on the altar of political differences. There is absolutely nothing wrong in exploiting the recondite competences in a quality leading member of the leading opposition for the greater good of the entire nation, provided the individual in question would remain true to his conscience, patriotic towards the country, and loyal to his political party – but more loyal to the Nigerian masses.

In that light, I view this hypocritically contrived parochial anti-Ribadu consideration as at best utterly pedestrian and embarrassingly jejune. It is absolutely unfair on the ex-EFCC boss to bear the tag of a “betrayer”, or a “disappointment” or a “sell-out” solely on account of his affirmative response to this urgent national call. 

So, like me, other disenchanted Nigerians must base their disagreeableness on credible variable parameters, and keep as constant their love, patriotism, and progressiveness towards Nigeria. It is only fittingly right and balanced to have a great gesture commended in the same vein as a dishonourable one is condemned.

Only a negligible few would argue against the fact that Nuhu Ribadu is a household name in Nigeria especially in the anti-corruption circus. Frankly though, one must admit that his fairy-tale sojourn into the murky waters of Nigeria’s mainstream politics quite noticeably sullied his hitherto immaculate reputation. As a presidential aspirant, he spoke banally like a stereotypical Nigerian politician and acted regrettably as one. Talking rather crassly and coarsely he discredited actions for which he had claimed high capital credits only few years prior.

But, Mallam Ribadu could be rightly considered a stack political neophyte in 2011 when he shocked the nation with his hefty lofty political ambition. With the grace of a big heart, it is not quite a big deal for me to pretend not to have noticed his missteps and mistakes during those turbo-charged electioneering periods.
His perceived sins notwithstanding, I mince no words as I say Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is in my books the most successful anti-corruption crusader of Nigerian descent alive today home or abroad. He beats every other Nigerian anti-corruption enforcement officer in every agency including his successors at the EFCC – and including every Inspector General of Police the nation has ever produced since Philips Akpoviri attained the age of reason.

Sadly, some items do not come so cheap to purchase. Forgiveness is one. Today, Ribadu bears the burden of convincing a sizeable portion of the Nigerian populace whom he has inadvertently constrained to dispute his trustworthiness, incorruptibility and straightforwardness. 

Be that as it may, Mallam Ribadu – his failings notwithstanding – is a great choice for any appointment connected with transparency and due process. Even if he bears within some latent elements of treachery, his resilience and boldness coupled with the palpable components of self-pride I have come to associate with him would propel the Adamawa state born retired police officer to do something new.
Mallam Ribadu enjoys being in the main bowl of the media; he revels in extravagant self-centred media exposure. And like the Hollywood stars, Nuhu does certainly know how to attract this.

I am convinced that Nuhu would perform creditably well in this new posting, because if his doggedness and unbreakable spirit do not lead him to success, then his arrogance, media-craze and failure-shy attitude would drive him to grind out some great results someway somehow – even if it necessitates sacrificing some old good friends of his. That’s the Ribadu I have come to know!

If Nuhu Ribadu – in association with his team members – could serve us a guarantee to plug the leaky holes in the petroleum industry, who cares if he, in the process emerges as the Time Man of the Year? What else is it we demand so urgently of President Jonathan if not to tackle the few big (wo)men congregating somewhere to milk the most of Nigerians dry?

However, as do most human actions, they almost never come 360 degree perfectly cyclic. I have a problem with the reporting line of the committee. I do honestly think that we the browbeaten people of Nigeria stand to achieve more if the taskforce has at least an optional functional reporting line to the presidency as against being totally under the petroleum ministry.

There is no gainsaying that Nuhu achieved tremendously in his days as the EFCC supremo because he reported directly – without any impedance – to a President Olusegun Obasanjo that had implicit confidence in him and supported him every day and every night to combat corruption though the culprits be arguably suspiciously selective.

Chief Obasanjo surely had the option of structuring Ribadu’s  EFCC to report to either the minister of finance, or the Inspector General of Police but he wisely did neither of both. Recall, Ribadu would later become a notable character in the disrobing of the nation’s number one policeman at that time. You are at liberty to expound my thoughts here!

Finally, I, like every other true, patriotic and progressive Nigerian commend the government for establishing this task force, as well as for moving beyond the borders of parties, of regions and of religions in the nonpareil choice of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to pilot its affairs.

But like Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, it would gladden my heart a bit more and perhaps more quickly wake up my sleepy faith in the Nigeria of my dream if Dr Jonathan scrubs off my tiny matter of fear by influencing the slight structural modification I talked about.

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and the entire Task Force our prayers are with you and our eyes on you. We hope you will not let us down.

Philips Akpoviri
February 9, 2012.

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