Ribadu, Obasanjo, and The War Against Corruption

To say that Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is passionate about fighting corruption in Nigeria is an understatement. What baffles many observers is the selective manner his commission goes about the job of crime-busting to date. It is a fact that out of the 31 indicted former governors the commission pronounced corrupt, only a handful has so far been arrested and prosecuted.

It is against this backdrop that one is compelled to query the rationale behind the purported claim by Ribadu in New York on Monday, as reported by Empowered Newswire, that he is ready to die for Nigeria in his quest to fight corruption to a standstill. The occasion was at Thisday Newspaper Global Conference where Ribadu and the chairman of ICPC spoke at the session on Fighting Corruption in Nigeria. Nigerians are waiting to see when the corruption ‘czar’ will summon enough courage to arrest and prosecute former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar given his admission that “there are worse criminals than Obasanjo and Anenih.”

His outburst at every forum where corruption in Nigeria is the topic of discussion is not enough. He is expected to follow up with action, and show Nigerians and indeed the whole world that he is a man of his words. Empty threats and showmanship are not synonymous with fighting corruption. To die for a course you believe in, you should at least put up outstanding performance towards achieving your goal and objective. This is not the case with Ribadu at the moment. He has the potential to do better, but his foot-dragging on the call for getting at the big ones is not helping his reputation as an incorruptible police officer, and probably an impartial operator.

To go to a global forum and claim credits for a job well done should be accompanied by clear-cut and detailed measures, coupled with action taken towards making corrupt government officials face the law, no matter how highly placed. That is more honorable, as opposed to mere publicity with little or nothing to show. The EFCC should be prepared to defend any action taken against corrupt officials as they are ready to fight for their innocence in the court of proper jurisdiction.

It is therefore important that the commission is seen to be acting within the law in its efforts to prosecute the indicted public officers. Some people are claiming that Ribadu is an ally of former President Obasanjo, based on the alleged corrupt practices of the ex-leader which the commission has not openly declared an intention to investigate. This and other claims about some untouchable former governors are creating doubts in people’s mind as to the sincerity of the commission’s chairman in fighting corruption.

Corruption in Nigerian public offices is not meant to be eradicated overnight, but steps taken in the right direction will be appreciated by Nigerians. It is the job of EFCC and ICPC to ensure that corrupt practices are not tolerated, and where identified, are investigated and perpetrators arrested and prosecuted without any bias. Nothing will be lost if the EFCC can go all the way to the top as expected especially with the allegations flying around about the corrupt enrichments leveled against Nigeria’s immediate past leaders. It is absurd and quite disturbing that the country is in its present state due largely to the insensitivity of its leaders to the welfare of the people. Given the nature of Nigerians as hardworking and enterprising people, it is a shame that the so called leaders ensure perpetual backwardness for the country within the global community.

Until the likes of Obasanjo, Atiku, and all the alleged corrupt officials are brought to face the law, any emotions displayed by Ribadu about his preparedness to die for the country would be rightly considered insincere, and of no effect. For Ribadu to say that “If Nuhu is not doing it – going after them – another person can” speaks volume of a man charged with the responsibility of bursting economic and financial crime in Nigeria.

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