Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ribadu’s Demotion – Yar’Adua’s Betrayal

The demotion exercise supposedly carried out by the Police Service Commission which affected the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu is clearly a vindictive assault on the fine officer, Ribadu whose stellar performance at the EFCC not only gained international respect for Nigeria in its fight against corruption, but gave hope to the millions of Nigerians who have been betrayed by their leadership, if only for the brief period of time.

This goes to prove that Yar’Adua is a lame duck of a President whose strings are being pulled by the various corrupt elements that helped to bring him to power and continue to influence the way things are run in Nigeria. Under Ribadu's leadership, the EFCC was able to investigate, prosecute and secure conviction of the perpetrators of one of the biggest fraud cases the world has ever seen (the Banco Noroeste case involving Emmanuel Nwude, Nzeribe Okoli and Amaka Anajemba). Also, for the first time, a sitting Inspector General of Police was indicted and convicted for corruption.

Indeed, so effective was the EFCC that the saying in Nigerian public offices was "The fear of Ribadu is the beginning of Wisdom." What made Ribadu so effective was the independence granted the agency by the Obasanjo administration. Even though Ribadu was an Assistant Commissioner of Police when he assumed office, his EFCC activities were reported directly to the presidency and not the Inspector General of Police. Removing this bureaucratic layer made the EFCC a highly effective organization, especially as it did not have to get approvals or orders from higher ranking police officers who are renowned for their high degree of corruption and sometimes were in complicity with the criminals under investigation.

This independence and attendant power bestowed on Ribadu officer bred in the higher ranked police officers jealousy, cavil and disdain. Snide remarks, accusations of selective justice and misconduct were rife. When the Yar’Adua government came into power, these police officers along with the criminal elements the EFCC was investigating (amongst whom were several state governors known to be instrumental to the Yar’Adua election to the presidency) increased their pressure on Yar’Adua, complaining about gross abuse of power by the EFCC. Yar’Adua bucked and Ribadu was pushed out of the commission under the guise of being sent on an advanced management course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). Eventually, Ribadu was removed as EFCC Chairman.

Yar’Adua makes a big mistake by allowing the demotion. If anything, for the fact that Ribadu performed excellently at the EFCC, he should be exempt from the demotion, assuming there is any truth to the rationale being given for the exercise. The symbolism of this is that Yar’Adua is in cahoots with the various criminal elements that continue to bog down the Nigerian political landscape. Also, it confirms the lack of vision and ineptitude of Yar’Adua as a president.

Yar’Adua has nothing to show for the two-years plus he has been in power. The militancy in the Niger-Delta has escalated several folds, diminishing Nigeria’s oil production by up to 25% as the president’s brother heads the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Electric power generation is at its worst in 45 years, inflation is rife, crime rate has escalated, and there are food shortages and long lines at the petrol stations. The only difference between the Yar’Adua government and the Abacha junta is that Sergeant Rogers and other Al Mustafa goons are not on the prowl killing perceived enemies of the state, but with the growing army of political assassins, Niger-Delta militants and other criminal gangs, Yar’Adua does not need Al Mustafa’s goons to achieve an even higher degree of mayhem than the evil Abacha. At least during the Abacha regime, the Niger-Delta was not as dangerous as it is now. The evil General knew how to curb criminal militancy and had an independent mind, something Yar’Adua seems to be lacking amongst other leadership traits.