AN African proverb says that when a woman is exceptionally beautiful, she attracts the eyes of several suitors, and it is that suitor who possesses the most panache and material disposition that might win her heart. There comes a time in the life of a man when his ability and pedigree present scintillating attributes too good to resist by all and sundry.
This appears to be presently true of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, who is currently being eyed by the two dominant political parties in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC, both trying to draft him to their sides as the race to occupy Government House in Yola, Adamawa State, becomes more intense.
Ribadu, the former presidential candidate on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, would certainly be the man to beat if he enters into the race under whatever platform to clinch the Adamawa governor’s seat vacated by the sacked governor, Murtala Nyako, for obvious reasons.
Among the deluge of attributes that make Ribadu the most sought after politician in the state at the moment, are his courage and drive. It is also the misfortune of Adamawa of not being lucky with good administration that makes the yearning for Ribadu even more deepening. To most people, he represents the needed new lease of life the state needs at this time.
He gained prominence during his heydays as the anti-corruption czar during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The fear of Ribadu then was palpable as he bestrode the length and breadth of the nation hounding corrupt politicians, businessmen, internet scammers, advance fee fraudsters and a wide range of financial fraudsters and sending them to face prosecution.
During Ribadu’s time at the EFCC, the enclave of fraudsters was methodically dismantled, the politicians who stuck their filthy fingers on the treasury, were hammered into submission. He was effective as he was consistent.
Despite the calculated attempt to slant his war against corruption as a witch-hunt by some disgraced elements in the country, the distinguished lawyer proved that the war was logical and anchored on transparency, with enormous empirical validity.
His ability helped to launder the image of Nigeria then heavily trapped in the opprobrium of corruption among the comity of nations. The international community recognised his unprecedented efforts in fighting corruption in Nigeria such that he became a household name. He also bagged several domestic and international awards.
Even though his efforts were fraught with risks as most of the thieves in the country are known to be very dangerous elements who could easily connive to take him out, he yet continued the dogged fight. The amount of money he saved for the country ran into billions of naira and Ribadu, despite having an opportunity to enrich himself, chose transparency and left office without any taint of corruption till this day.
It is not surprising that Ribadu had to enjoy these impressive credentials because if he had enriched himself with illicit funds, those who he brought down during his reign as the anti-corruption chief would have used their strength and financial power to hunt him. But he left no one in doubt with his honesty, integrity and a shining example of excellence.
It is these startling qualities of the man that are now his greatest assets as he joins the bid for Adamawa governorship. For a state that suffered corruption hemorrhage for a very long time, the people are no longer trapped in the blind following of political parties, but rather their concern now is on individuals who can clean the malfeasance of yester-years and re-direct the country unto a fresh path of progress. This is what the people see in Nuhu Ribadu.
For the APC, the ultimate choice, if they were to provide a credible person that can give the dominant PDP a run for its money, it would have to be Ribadu. The APC is on the verge of being silenced in the state and they recognise the strategic political asset Ribadu would be for the APC in their quest to bounce back from the brink.
The ousted governor, Nyako, tried to transfer the political fortunes of the state to the APC, yet lacked the tact and prudence to pursue such initiative. His shortsightedness and some proportion of arrogance cost the party what may have been an opportunity. Now they are desperate to snatch power back from the PDP hawks who have taken over.
The top rank of the APC hierarchy led by its chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, are said to be working to convince Ribadu, who was presidential candidate of the ACN, one of the components that formed the APC.
For the PDP, they are struggling to have Ribadu as their flagbearer in the forthcoming governorship election in Adamawa State because of the aforementioned qualities. For the PDP, Ribadu’s popularity, integrity and his influence will be a big asset to the party. He therefore stands a great chance of picking the PDP ticket once he makes up his mind to run under the party’s platform.
Apart from his high moral disposition, Ribadu is also a powerful force in terms of articulation of ideas; he is equally gifted in recruiting the best brains to drive such ideas. As a politician, Ribadu is a smooth operator who is not disposed to the flamboyance and unnecessary aimless public statements.
At the moment, the sad situation which led to the impeachment and removal from office of Nyako, caused some ripples in the political equation of the state. But it presents yet immense opportunities to restore the requisite values to the state and move it forward.
Ribadu’s emergence in the state as the PDP candidate will further strengthen the hands of the party as they strategise for the 2015 elections. Already the PDP enjoys the majority in the state assembly as well as other facets.
It is only Ribadu that can give the PDP the edge they are looking for to neutralise the threat of the APC, which now has possible sympathy votes from Adamawa voters. It is not surprising therefore, that the Presidency is reportedly in the forefront of those clamouring for him to pick the PDP ticket with some lofty promises of support in all ramifications.
Although this situation of two platforms cajoling him presents Ribadu with some awkward scenario; the challenges notwithstanding, Ribadu is a man who knows how to pick the best in any given situation. The astute politician can distinguish the pretenders from real politicians adept at transformation, which indigenes of the state desperately need.
He is passionate about his quest to reorder the state, reprioritize and refocus the state on the path of peace and development.
Ibrahim Umar, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Yola, Adamawa State.