Nigeria Matters

They Will Kill Nuhu Ribadu

When (for it is no longer a question of ‘if’) they finally kill Nuhu Ribadu, the embattled pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), heaven will not fall. Of course, several hues and cries will emanate from eclectic quarters: the NLC, ASUU, TI (Transparency International), the UN, AU (African Union), AREWA, Ndigbo, Afenifere, Market Women Associations, Market Men Associations, Old People’s Union, Young People’s Union, Nigerians in Diaspora – a limitless number of crocodile tear shedders will fill gallons upon gallons of drums with their crocodile tears in mournful memory of Nuhu Ribadu.

Pen pushers like me, especially those of us enjoying the faux anonymity of the Internet and the relative remoteness of our physical locations, will bombard the Internet with rage-laced articles condemning the killing of the man that was the face of the first ever constructive fight against corruption in Nigeria, and the scion of bravery in the face of unmitigated danger. Those residing in Nigeria, especially those employed by news organizations whose owners enjoy the patronage and largess of the ruling class will tamp down their anguish and temper their criticisms with a large dose of realism. They will caveat their condemnation of Ribadu’s killers with the excuse that “the man went too far.” (In fact, they have already started to say so!) In due course…in a very short time, the hues and cries will die a natural death.

It has happened before in Nigeria. We cried Bloody Murder when Dele Giwa was murdered. Students demonstrated in higher institutions; workers called for justice; lawyers threatened action; journalists…oooh… journalists were aghast. For at least a whole year, Newswatch magazine ran the banner question: “Who Killed Dele Giwa?” Everybody thought he/she knew who did it. This was in 1986. Twenty-two years later, heaven did not fall and his killer(s) have not been found. We cried when M.K.O Abiola was murdered…murdered while in the custody of President Abacha. The whole world was astounded. Nigerians all over Nigeria demonstrated. Nigerians in the UK demonstrated. Those in the US marched on the State Department, Nigerian Embassy and the White House. The whole world had a good idea who killed Abiola. This was in 1993. It has been fifteen years now and no one has been clearly identified as his killer(s). We all think we know who did it, but justice has yet to be done.

They killed Ken Saro-Wiwa…openly, with utter disregard for the massive local and international intercession, and without any compunction. They tied a noose around his neck and executed him after trying him in a kangaroo court which provided no recourse to an appeal. Then, for good measure, they poured acid on his remains. This was government-sponsored open execution! They killed him and got away with it. The list is endless here…the list of high-powered, high-ranking, public and private persons murdered at night or in the day; murdered by poisoning or by execution; murdered by hired, private assassins or by state-sponsored assassins. The list is endless, but I will name a few: Bola Ige (a whole serving attorney-general of the Federation (!), Kudirat Abiola, Pa Alfred Rewane, Harry Marshall (ANPP National Chairman), Funsho Williams (PDP candidate in Lagos State), and Ayo Daramola (PDP aspirant in Ekiti State).

They killed all those people and nothing happened. And none…none of those people stepped on as many a toe as Ribadu stepped on feet! Not even Abiola, who threatened to take Abacha’s job, built for himself such a wide array of enemies as Ribadu has done in his pursuit of “Vagabonds in Power” – apologies to Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It is even a miracle that the man is still alive. Here was a relatively junior police officer that had the audacity to investigate Tafa Balogun, an Inspector-General of Police, for corruption, pursued the man until he confessed to his crimes, and was found guilty by the courts, sent to jail, and made to regurgitate most of his stolen wealth. Here was the man who exposed the grand larcenies perpetrated by kleptomaniacs like former governors Alamieyeseigha, Fayose, Dariye and Ibori. Here was a man that gave former vice-president Atiku cause for worries because the man is (or was) believed to have stolen from Nigeria. Here was the man that went to Ibadan and expressed regrets at the fact that in spite of their political sophistication, the people of Oyo State allowed their state to be ruled (not governed) by a cabal of thieves led by the duo of the late Adedibu and governor Alao-Akala.

Here was the man that began the burnishing of Nigeria’s and Nigerians’ long-tainted image abroad. Because of the forthrightness and purposefulness of his anti-corruption crusade, Nigeria and Nigerians began to be respected in the comity of Nations. No country is devoid of corrupt entities. No one is saying that Nigerians (and Nigerians only) enjoy the monopoly of ingrained corrupt tendencies. In fact, just a couple of days ago (09 Dec 2008), the governor of the state of Illinois in the US, Rod Blagojevich, was visited at 6 a.m. by members of the FBI who carted him off to jail to face corruption charges. The Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, is resigning from office because of the widening of the corruption charges leveled at him. These are sitting Chief Executives of a State and a country respectively. They did not cry persecution. They did not claim executive immunity. In jails across the US, there are members of Congress, both state and Federal levels, serving time for corruption.

So, again, Nigeria is not the only country that has plain thieves in the garb of public servants. But Nigeria and Nigerians are unique in the sense that like the ostrich, we bury our heads in the sand and pretend that nothing wrong is going on around us. We celebrate and eulogize people we know quite well are nothing but thieves. We then join the bandwagon in vilifying and crucifying those we know quite well are nothing but hard-working, sincere people who have placed the love of their country before their personal safety and those that eschew self-aggrandizement in the discharge of their duties. When we don’t openly join in the public lynching of those, like Ribadu, that are our beacons of hope and our pathfinders and compass to civilized behaviors, we let our strident silence symbolize our criminal acquiescence to their humiliation and destruction. Cowards, us all, we sit idly and watch the stultification of our hopes and dreams by ne’er –do-wells that will do anything to protect their loot.

When Ribadu started his war against corruption, many of us egged him on. In that volatile country where lives mean nothing to evil-doers, Ribadu put his life on the line daily. He drove around in his mid-size, non-bullet resistant BMW, most of the time without any security. We were so very proud of him. Many in my circle of friends were even dreaming of him as a possible replacement for Obasanjo as president. His choice, they reasoned, would have been universally received without question. At the very least, I thought an Inspector-General of Police Nuhu Ribadu would have done a lot of good for Nigeria as a whole, and the Nigeria Police Force in particular.

But ours is a country where progress is forever progressively stunted and excellence is routinely sacrificed at the altar of mediocrity. We will never know how much better our lives would have been today if we had allowed Obafemi Awolowo to govern Nigeria. We will never know how much we lost by never hiring Nnamdi Azikiwe as President. We will never have the benefit of the “progressive” inclination of Aminu Kano. Instead of electing one of these gentlemen as president, we sold our souls to the pedestrian, clueless Shehu Shagari who catapulted us back to the Stone Age. Gani Fawehinmi is now in his 70s. If anything, his stint as attorney-general of the Federation would have been nothing like that of Michael Aondoakaa, the current pro-criminal, conspiratorial, and pseudo rule-of-law progenitor. Instead, Fawehinmi has seen the inside of many of Nigeria’s worst prisons, not because he was convicted by any court of law, but because he dared to speak truth to power. Where would Nigeria be today had we allowed Murtala Muhammed to continue the cleansing of Nigeria of the dregs in our society that seem to truncate our desires at every turn? What about a President Wole Soyinka, or at least a Minister of Education, Wole Soyinka? Why did we ever have morons like Jubril Aminu as Education minister? And now, the big question: why do we have Yar’Adua as president? Of all the able-bodied and able-minded people that litter our political landscape, how come Yar’Adua is the one in charge? Why have we meandered from one calamitous ruler to another? Is it our destiny, or is it because we are cowards, unable to choose our own leaders? Are we cursed?

The forces arrayed against Ribadu are strong and varied. They are well-oiled, well-funded and determined. They are as calculating as they are ruthless. They mounted a huge media onslaught against the man in a bid to first assassinate his character before assassinating his person. And it appears they are succeeding. All you have to do is read our newspapers. Our fickle-minded journalists, those whose keyboards type in consonance with brown envelopes, have started to question Ribadu’s tenure as EFCC chairman. They are accusing him of having used the EFCC to target Obasanjo’s perceived and real enemies. None of them – indolent saboteurs all – has the strength of character to dig up any exculpatory evidence on any of the thieves that Ribadu either put away or put on the run. None of these jeun-jeun journalists has explained how James Ibori, for example, came into such blind wealth. Even if, for the sake of argument, Ribadu was knowingly used by Obasanjo to harass his enemies, the fact still remains that those “enemies” were guilty of corruption of extreme proportions. We are not talking about thousands of naira. We are talking about billions of naira that belong to communities with no electricity, no gainful sources of employment; where the populace is ravaged by disease and abject poverty; where pipe-borne water is a pipe dream and simple medical care is a mirage. Our journalists, the so-called Fourth Estate of the Realm, are again abdicating their responsibilities by not calling a spade what it really is. Just look at the tepid criticism, by the media, of the lethargic and rudderless ship of government that Yar’Adua is captaining, and compare that to the virulent criticism that Obasanjo, whose government, at least, provided us with some hope and excitement, received. I don’t know why we continue to arrogate to Nigerian media practitioners the appellation that their peers in other countries deserve, but they have not earned.

Of course, sane minds like Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka have spoken up in Ribadu’s defense. And so have people like Gani Fawehinmi. But these are mostly tired titans who are fully grayed and should no longer be fighting our battles for us. How much longer will they continue to fight for us? When will they see the fruits of their labors? Will they ever see the fruits of their labors?

Ribadu was not supposed to be perfect. If he was, he would be God. He was supposed to be human. He was supposed to provide a template for his successor to use in furthering the fight against corruption. Ribadu was not (and should not have been) expected to catch all the thieves in the corridors of power. Yes, at times he was loquacious and at times he was garrulous. But on balance, he was what we needed. His efforts at the EFCC should have been complimented by that of the Nigeria Police Force, which, the last time I checked, still had the responsibility, among others, to investigate and prosecute all suspected criminals, financial or otherwise. How many high-profile or even low-profile corruption cases has the Nigeria Police Force prosecuted since 1989? Zilch.

When they murder Nuhu Ribadu – and they will – as I wrote above (because these are conscience-less, super-entrenched sadists), the newspapers and Internet pages will be filled with dirges and cries of another hero lost. Being a Moslem, Ribadu will have been buried within hours of his death, his reputation forever tarnished, his family forever decimated, and the cause for which he lost his life forever lost. And for Nigeria, the vicious cycle will continue – the vicious cycle of brutalizing and dehumanizing our heroes; the vicious cycle of endemic corruption that subjects our nationals to international ridicule.

5 Comments

  1. A job well done. Also a food for taught for all Nigerians. Nuhu Ribadu,with this article, is like the bone tie around the neck of those dogs. Yet, we should not fold our arms until he got killed. More greese to your elbow.

    Reply
  2. True Indeed. The day Nigerians stop running away and decide to stand as one people to fight the destruction of whatever remains of the future of our Kids yet unborn, that is the day our country takes a turn for the better.

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  3. Correction! Abiola was killed while in the custody of President Abubakar, and not Abacha. Of course, Abacha died before Abiola and so would not have been the one that masterminded Abiola’s death.

    My apologies.

    Reply

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