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Youths are set to take over, I’m the man – Ribadu

Between the young and old generation

•We should do away with corrupt past leaders
•I have not spoken  with OBJ for two years

By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of Economic and financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is one of those being expected to contest  the 2011 presidential election.

Although he has not formally declared and is being expected to declare on September 30, Nuhu Ribadu would fly the presidential flag of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and already, young people from different parts of the country are known to be campaigning in advance.The youths who are currently meeting at Abuja  would round up tomorrow and their commitment  is to brainstorm on how to sell the personality of the former anti corruption czar and ensure that come 2011, Nuhu Ribadu becomes Nigeria’s president.

In this interview with Saturday Vanguard, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu shares his political aspirations, his plans and the difference he will make in the polity.

Nuhu Ribadu: The young people should have a chance

The former EFCC boss believes in the dream of a new Nigeria where there will be no more corruption, assassinations,kidnappings, unemployment, power outage, insecurity, religious bigotry, ethnic jingoism but a brand new country and he believes in  the new generation  coming together to ensure that those who destroyed Nigeria in the past should not have the opportunity to return to power.

And does he believe he is the right man for the job? Nuhu Ribadu says he has all it takes. He has no fears and is not worried about anything and anybody; challenging those who have allegations against him to come out so he would expose them and their place in history.

He  blames the current situation in the country on bad leadership, saying that if leadership is good, follower ship will be good as it is leadership that determines the level of follower ship. Reminded that past leaders have made similar promises and failed, Ribadu said he has never made any promise and failed and that Nigeria should try him and see the difference.

Excerpts.
There are speculations that you are going to contest 2011 presidential elections. How true is this speculation?

So far, I have not made any public declaration to run for any elective office. Like you said, there are speculations and for now, I have not made any declaration.

But people have been campaigning, promising that you are being wooed to contest.
I think that is the word. Being wooed to contest and that is where we are for now. The future will tell.

Some people are expecting that when you returned from exile, you would work hand-in-hand with Jonathan who also wants to contest.

Well, I don’t understand what you mean. President Jonathan and I are friends. Our relationship is cordial. I have not declared my presidential aspirations and he has not declared his. But I am a public servant and I am still committed to serving God and the people. Only God knows what tomorrow will be.

In the event of you declaring to run for presidency, what would you do differently for Nigeria . What have past leaders not done that you are promising Nigerians?

I believe in the dream of a new Nigeria. I believe in re-making Nigeria and bringing it to the level where the future will be bright. I see Nigeria of greater tomorrow. I see peace and justice.

I see harmony. I see togetherness. I believe in the need for change and I want to be part of that change. Everywhere you look, people are clamouring for change because the present situation in the country is very undesirable. There is still massive corruption, people are still killing people, people are still kidnapping people. There is need to stop all that.

There is still power outage; unemployment. Graduates are everywhere and there are no jobs. A lot of young people are frustrated, disenchanted and they roam the streets hopeless and helpless. I want to turn things around for good. I want to bring a change.

I want to remake Nigeria and give hope to the new generation. Many have tried and failed and I am committed to making a difference. I have done it in the past and I will do it again.

I am committed to service; service to the country, service to the ordinary people, the common people and above all, service to God. I want to work with all Nigerians to bring this dream of a new Nigeria to becoming a reality. It is happening everywhere all over the world; in the United States, in Russia, in France.

The new generation are taking over and are bringing about positive change. We cannot leave this country in the hands of those who ruined it. We have to remake Nigeria and that is what I am clamouring for. It is not something I will do alone. It is what all Nigerians who desire change for the better should come together and work for.

Come October 1, Nigeria will be 50. How would you assess 50 years of our nationhood?

Nigeria is developing. There is no doubt about that. But a lot of work still needs to be done. And this is the moment for us to open a new chapter. Those who led us in the past have done their own and this is our time. We should move ahead. We still need to do much more than what has been done already.

It is to the glory of God that we have remained together. We are grateful to God for that but we should fast-forward from where we are to greatness. Nigerians should be able to feel safe anywhere.

An Igbo man should feel safe in Sokoto and an Hausa man should feel safe in Ogun State and vice-versa. We should do away with ethnicism, religious bias. Every part of Nigeria should be home for every Nigerian. We should not feel unsafe when we are in any part of Nigeria. We should be Nigerians everywhere we are and that is why I said that change is imminent.

What would you say is the problem with Nigeria?

The problem with Nigeria is bad leadership. It is the form of leadership we have at a time that determines follower ship but over the years, bad leadership has held Nigeria to ransom. Nigerians should say no to bad leadership.

Now, when you said the problem of Nigeria is bad leadership, that means the past leaders were not good enough. Now, some of these leaders we had in the past are trying to stage a come-back in 2011. What is your opinion of that?

Well, as it is, you cannot stop them from contesting the elections. But it is up to Nigerians to decide if these people should come back, and that can only be achieved through the votes of  Nigerians. It is their constitutional right to aspire but Nigerians should decide who they want to rule them using the past records of  these people.

Nigeria is for everybody. It is not for one. It is up to the people to decide if they want one person to dominate the polity at all times.

We should make sure that our votes count and the only way to get rid of the people  we don’t want is through our votes. It is up to Nigerians to decide whether they want to vote for those who ruined the country or not.

For sometime, the argument on zoning of the presidency has dominated the polity.

It’s been the North vs the South. Where do you stand on this?

The zoning argument is something that does not really concern me. It’s an internal party affair. It is a PDP affair and I am not in  PDP. I belong to Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and we don’t have such an issue in our  party. Political parties make decisions that favour them and the zoning debate is not an ACN affair.

But the debate has gone beyond being a PDP affair to being a national affair. The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, which I’m sure you belong to even came out with a communique that urged all the parties to adopt Northern presidential candidates.

No matter what was said by ACF, it is still the priority of political parties to decide who flies their presidential flag because ACF is not the deciding factor. It is the political parties and in some parties, there is no zoning arrangement. They let the best emerge.

So, you don’t believe in zoning?

It is not part of our party arrangement.

Now, in anticipation of your deciding to run, who is your God father?

God the Father is my Godfather.

Many will think you need the anointing former President Obasanjo.

God the Father is my God father. Obasanjo is not my god father. I have not spoken with Obasanjo for over two years. I don’t understand this thing about Obasanjo. I was a public servant and served Nigeria to the best of my ability.

I did not serve Obasanjo, I served Nigeria and Nigerians but I have regard and respect for Obasanjo as an elder  statesman and as President whom I served under.

Why are  people talking about Obasanjo whenever I am mentioned? Why do people think there is something between Obasanjo and I. I wasn’t the only person amongst the lot who served under the regime of Obasanjo.

IBB served under him. He was a member of  the Supreme Military Council under the military regime of Obasanjo. Buhari also worked under Obasanjo. He was a Minister and governor under his military  regime.

I was the EFCC boss under the civilian  regime of OBJ. Why is my own different.? Why am I being singled out? I wasn’t the only one. Even Atiku Abubakar was his Vice.

Why are people not talking about these others working under Obasanjo. Why are they talking about me? Most of these people also served under him.

Many people think EFCC was a weapon the former President used against his political enemies and with you at the helm of that organisation, many see you as a tool he used.

Nobody used me against anybody. I joined the Police Force to serve Nigeria and Nigerians and I did so to  the best of my ability. I was not an agent of  destruction. I was a public servant who served his fatherland and I  did it very well.

And many think  you were used and  later dumped.

I was not used. I was not dumped either. I did not join the Police to serve a particular individual. I worked for Nigeria. My allegiance was for Nigeria and the common people.

I am still committed to serving Nigeria and the ordinary people: the masses, the low people, the wretched people who are under the bondage of bad leadership. I pledged to be different and I will be different and  I have been different.

Those who led us in the past spoke the same way and still failed Nigerians. The suffering of the people did not cease despite their promises .

I will deliver what I promised. I did in the past. I promised to deliver and I did. I don’t make promises that I cannot keep. My past record speaks volumes. I will deliver.

I have delivered in the past. People should judge all those who have come out to make promises; people should be judged on the basis of  who they are and what they were.

We should have our dreams for Nigeria. We should have Nigeria of our dreams, visualise what we want Nigeria to be in future, the Nigeria we want to see in years to come and work towards that.

So, looking back at the conception  of EFCC,  won’t you say it was a weapon used by the past administration to witch-hunt political enemies?

It was not. It is not. I rendered service to Nigerians to the best of my ability. I achieved results and I am glad with the results I achieved.

Was justice not selective in those days as some people were alleging?

I did not kill or harm anybody physically. We operated under the rule of law of this country. We did a great job. There are people who have killed people and they are still out asking to be voted for.

I have no worries. I am satisfied with my performance. So many Nigerians are proud of  my output. I have nothing to worry about should I decide to contest. If those who have killed in the past can come out to face Nigerians and ask them to vote for them, then, they are the ones to worry, not me who did my  job judiciously as a police man and never harmed or killed anybody.

In other words, those that accused EFCC of selective justice then were making mere allegations?

Let them come out and speak about selective justice. Who are these people any way? If they think their records are correct and they want to talk about justice, we will tell the world what they have done. I have nothing to worry about.

What do you think  about Jonathan contesting presidential elections despite the PDP zoning arrangement?

I think he is qualified to contest. He is a Nigerian and under our constitution, he is qualified to contest. He should contest.

It’s only some months to the elections and things are gradually taking shape but Nigerians are still haunted by the past conduct of elections. What would you tell Nigerians?

We should all wake up to rebuild Nigeria which  everybody should be proud of. A new Nigeria is possible and achievable. We can do that.

In the past 50 years, it’s been all promises and no action, all motion and no action so to say.

When the  shoe doesn’t fit, you change the shoe and not the leg that wears the shoe. We should give chance to others and see if there will be a difference. I think the time has come for others to be given chance to lead the country. Nigerians should not give up.

God is just and we should believe that He will give us what is good for us. We should not give up because of  past disappointments. Some of the people aspiring for presidency have been tested and they disappointed. I have not been tested on any elective office or given a chance to lead Nigeria in the highest  echelon.

The time has come for people of our generation to take a plunge and liberate Nigeria from the woods. Those who ruled us in the past and disappointed us should not be given a chance to come back because they had their chance and failed. Our generation should be given the chance to lead Nigeria and this is the change that we desire and we believe we can. Together we can.

Now, a group of young people have decided  to work with you. How did you come about them?

These are the people who want change. They are part of the dream of a new Nigeria which all should be proud of.  These are the engine room of change. These young people are tired of  the problem of  the past, they are tired of a divided Nigeria.

They want a Nigeria that will give them jobs, education, light, security and sense of  belonging. They want a Nigeria where everything is working and they believe that a new young person will make a better leader. They have confidence that I will do the job and do it well.

They are saying no to being used by corrupt politicians as thugs. They want to remake Nigeria and they believe based on my past record that I can do it. They have seen changes everywhere around the world.

They have seen changes in the United States, France, Russia and they have seen that the leaders of those countries are young people. They are young presidents and they want something similar, something youthful and all these young people are working for themselves.

They are not ‘rent a crowd group’. Nobody pays them for rendering their support. They are no more available for corrupt politicians to buy and misuse. They are now the ones looking for leadership, not leadership looking for them. They are saying yes, we can and I am promising them that collectively, we can .

The election time-table is already out and many have doubts about having a credible election on the basis of the time-table.

I believe we can have a credible election if the people are honest even with the time-table as it is. What matters is the will of  the umpire, that is INEC to conduct a credible election in 2011.

If there is will, if there is commitment, I believe that within the period we have at hand, we can have a credible election where the votes of the people will count and no amount of manipulation can change things. It is in our hands. It is in the hands of the organisers. It is possible. Yes, we can do it.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.