Speaking Truth to Power: Mr President and Ribadu’s Disgrace, Who and What Next?

I’m so sad to tell you that the corrupt wicked elements in Nigeria have connived to prevent Ribadu from getting the NIPSS mni.”

This was the content of the text that shattered the sedate calm surroundings in the local library where I was armed with my lap top computer and the assorted books of religious variety at my side as I was preparing and researching for a talk I was billed to deliver.

My initial reaction, bothered on the emotional, it was that of lamentation for Nigeria, but the more consideration I gave, the more reflection and pause upon the words that:

“The reality is that we as Christians need to “speak the truth to power” no matter which side of the liberal-conservative line God’s truth may fall on a particular topic in today’s culture and no matter which earthly power we are addressing: the power of government, the power of cultural elites, or the power of the masses.

We need to be prudent, of course, and speak with as much care and skill as we can muster, praying always for the help of God’s grace, so that our words may have maximum effect.”

The late Martin Luther King Jnr, in one of his many speeches both as a preacher and Civil-rights leader in the United States of America once observed that, ‘Injustice any where is a treat to justice everywhere.’ Silence on Ribadu’s case related to his NIPSS – Police Authorities ordeal does not excuse the silence of the Presidency at this critical juncture of Ribadu’s graduation. What a befitting ironic message being dished out to Nigerians about the cost of patriotism in ‘serving’ this country to the best of one’s ability. The political sage of blessed political memory Bola Ige, once coined a strange political phraseology during the Abacha military misadventure: Siddon Look. In Ribadu’s case, one may be tempted to do a siddon look posture. To wait out events as they unfold themselves. But in a democratic Nigeria no matter the pretensions, siddon look is not an option now. It was countless others yesterday, it is Mallam Nuhu Ribadu today and tomorrow, it would be all of us, consumed one by one. Most the hypocrites always have their last laugh? Let’s wait and see.

This latest Ribadu’s NIPSS graduation incidence has provided me the basis and resolve, supported with facts and application of common sense to address the scourge of the Yar’Adua ‘presidency’, his handlers and their purported adherence to the ‘rule of law’.

To grasp the extent and the gravity of my point I suggest this article should be taken within the context of the Punch Newspaper report of 20th November 2008:

The uncertainty over the fate of the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, ………., at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru in Plateau State, ended on Wednesday with the NIPSS authorities saying they had been cleared to graduate on Saturday. It said since the two men had completed the Senior Executive Course 30, there was nothing left for the institute to do than to abide by its Act in graduating them.”

So the question is why was the Mallam prevented from graduating? Could it be an intervention from the powers that be, bent on humiliating him into the ground?

The unsophisticated observer may respond to this event in some isolation and venture as far as saying Ribadu has received his just ‘political deserts.’ Some may articulate that he deserves no empathy and is merely being paid in his own coins. I will, however, beg to vigorously disagree and I hope my reasoning becomes more obvious as the article unfolds. Have we thought through the long-term implication of this to Nigeria and young up-coming gifted Nigerians as they contemplate whatever sacrifices they wish to make for motherland-Nigeria?

A visit to the NIPSS website reveals that on the Senior Executive Course No. 30, 2008 is participant no 51 as AIG Nuhu Ribadu of the Nigerian Police, however, as indicated above the said Ribadu was prevented from graduating with his colleagues on 22nd November 2008. It would seem this revolves around his refusal to adorn the uniform of a Deputy Commissioner of Police, the rank to which he has been demoted.

Another story which raises some questions is that of Yakubu Sankey, Ph.D., the acting Director-General who appeared to stand up to the Presidency in the Ribadu saga. He was suspended and replaced for alleged insubordination on Friday, 17 October 2008 over certain newspaper comments which government later described as “disrespectful censure of the Office of the Vice President”.

Some cynics may suggest this was setting the scene for the complete and utter disgrace of Ribadu. However, to separate facts from fiction it would be useful to revisit Ribadu’s saga, the circumstances of his posting to NIPSS Kuru and his eventual humiliation by the powers that be.

The Nigerian Tribune Newspapers of 25th December 2007 reported that:

IG orders Ribadu to proceed on 1-yr course. The battle to sack the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, may have been shifted to his immediate constituency where fresh plot to ease him out of office is allegedly coming from the top hierarchy of the Nigeria Police Force.”
It continued that:

“While politicians who are not comfortable with his activities are said to have been pressurising President Umaru Yar’Adua to sack the anti-corruption chief, the leadership of the police force, which is reportedly uncomfortable with his profile, is said to be spear-heading the new angle of the war against Ribadu” project.”

In the Nation Newspaper of 28th December 2007 the Inspector General reeled out the criteria upon which Ribadu was deployed out of his position to Kuru:

For the avoidance of doubt, it should be noted that the criteria for sending officers on course as contained in NIPSS guidelines, which the Police are following religiously, are as follows.”

“The officer must not be less than 40 years of age; he must be a graduate from a recognized university; he must have more than five years to retire from the service and the officer must not be less than a permanent secretary in the State Service Civil or a director in the Federal Civil Service or a colonel in the military or commissioner of police or its equivalent in the para-military service.”

The Leadership Newspaper of 28 December 2007 also quoted:

The IGP revealed that seven participants from the police have been slated to attend the forthcoming course at NIPSS and AIG Nuhu Ribadu is the second on the list based on seniority and the above guidelines, adding that Ribadu was nominated to attend the course. He stressed that he was not being sent on course for any ulterior motive other than the reasons given.”

It is interesting that the Yar’Adua administration accepted Ribadu as AIG when it religiously sent him to the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru for a course that would qualify him for his new rank and then using the Osayande review about the lack of due process as coverage to commit a policy somersault leading to his demotion. It is now apparent that our government to varying degrees is falling foul of the truth and forgetting that:

A lie cannot use truth to sustain itself.’

The argument that the timing and manner of Ribadu’s humiliation fits into a larger pattern is now gaining greater credence. A government that should have made a straight forward case for Ribadu has used gestaporian and covet tactics best suited to the military era. In the past, using tools of the sort, such as blistering personal attacks on Ribadu and wagging a war of bragging rights. It has been suggested that that such personal animus should inflect public policy, says a lot about the President’s approach to statecraft.

In this ritual humiliation and disgrace of the Mallam, is a fundamental question of the authenticity of the President’s calm, reassuring veneer. Does his seemingly composed and unflappable demeanour mask a harsher mien, a man who would not brook opposition of any sort? It also raises the question of who and what next will suffer the next disgrace at the behest of powers that be? If the Police authorities is unable to get their act together in dealing with the Ribadu case with the fairness it deserves, then the Presidency to whom we owe our allegiance as far as piloting the affairs of State is concern ought to show a brighter approach in what should be. For all those who would rather remain silent including those in the corridors of power, I wish to end this piece with a timely war time poem which speaks so clearly to present hour of moral hesitant confusion:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.”

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