Malam Nuhu Ribadu

Corruption presents huge dangers for Nigeria. Some in the US, in the Pentagon and the Department of Defense, already view Nigeria as a failed state. And they are also talking about redrawing boundaries in Africa. This is imperialism at its most aggressive. AFRICOM is designed to accomplish these plans, mostly by indoctrinating and enlisting African militaries to do the work for the US. China is using economic techniques, but both China and the US are after Nigerian oil and resources. The most effective way for Nigeria to consolidate its power, and resist the latest colonial aggression, would be to actively and sincerely fight corruption at home. Such a battle won’t be won overnight, but it must at least be engaged, so that the Nigerian people have some control over their government. Malam Nuhu Ribadu appears to have been engaged in this battle.

Wole Soyinka has written a passionate lament on the removal of Ribadu as head of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the EFCC. He writes of political power in Nigeria:

. . . power derives from corruption which in turn fuels and guarantees power . . . The tree of democracy cannot thrive on the compost of corruption.
. . .
. . . it is the ruling party itself, the PDP, that continues to suffocate the nation in its folds of corruption . . . (it is) the very quagmire of corruption, nurtured on corruption, sustained by corruption and dependent on corruption for its very survival.

Let all sophistry be abandoned – the removal of Nuhu Ribadu is not about the removal of one individual. . . . The timing, when viewed with the recent call to re-open the case-files of unsolved political murders, will be regarded as a coincidence only by starry-eyed innocents from space – good luck to them. Those of us who have the slightest knowledge of behind-the-scenes manipulations since the trail of detection moved ever closer to the very apex of governance under the past regime, know that the nation was being brought closer and closer to the dismantling of one of the most sinister and corrupt governance machines that this nation has ever confronted – including even the incontinent reign of Sanni Abacha.

Ribadu’s removal is therefore not an individual predicament . . . The issue is that an effective agency has been tampered with, unnecessarily, but with transparent motivations that constitute an assault on the corporate integrity of the nation.

There is more, but I think these lines capture the heart of his message.

Imnakoya at Grandiose Parlor writes:

I’m speechless! This must be a joke!

Despite the EFCC lapses, Ribadu is one of the best officers (if not the best) in the Nigerian Police Force. Despite overwhelming influences from the powerful political community, he has done what can best imagined in Nigeria – fighting corruption.

If this ill-timed study leave indeed marks Ribadu’s exit, I can only hope that his replacement finds the courage to continue the fight.

Soyinka is absolutely correct when he writes the tree of democracy cannot thrive on the compost of corruption. Here in the United States we are beginning to see the destruction of democracy by an interwoven web of corruption. At a minimum, democracy means a majority of the people have a say in how they are governed, and how the monies of government are spent. Corruption turns those decisions over to a few people and corporate interests trading power and money.

But these views of Ribadu are somewhat different from the views in the story I quoted previously by Tony Eluemunor:

Nigerians may not know it but the man Obasanjo used to ram in support for his failed third term bid and in getting the last April polls to go his way, Nuhu Ribadu, has become active again in advancing pro-Obasanjo plans.
. . .
Ribadu’s used his anti-corruption agency to discredit Obasanjo’s political enemies ahead of the April 2007 elections but his sins are now forgotten. He had produced reports indicting dozens of politicians, who were opposed to Obasanjo’s Third Term bid, and which INEC acted upon to bar such persons from contesting the elections.

Courts have been reversing such decisions in ruling after ruling. To show that INEC was insincere, scarcely any of those so barred from the polls have been prosecuted six months after.

There is more there, and it is worth a look. These things said, there are numerous possible explanations. As to the failed prosecutions, at first it looks like the actions of the Gonzales Dept. of Justice in the US, who forced US Attorneys around the country to prosecute Democrats running for office before the 2004 elections. Most of those prosecutions were later dropped or abandoned as without merit or evidence. They were a tool to discredit opposition candidates.

However, prosecutions may be dropped for corrupt reasons, rather than lack of evidence, because of threats or bribes to judges and prosecutors, as Soyinka says has occurred. The state governors are often the nexus of corruption in Nigeria.

So is Ribadu an anti-corruption hero? Is he a fixer for Obasanjo? He is certainly a hero in the eyes of many citizens of Nigeria, and to some, the last best hope against corruption. It is very difficult to advance in a corrupt system without participating in corruption. It is still possible to want to change things and to try to clean them up. He made enemies in the police force as well, both with prosecutions, and because his successes made the police look incompetent or corrupt.

The Daily Trust has a long article discussing the removal of Ribadu, Nigeria: The Coup Against Nuhu Ribadu, and discusses the story from a number of different angles. It concludes:

Hate him or like him, no one can deny the fact Ribadu brought in a commitment that has been unsurpassed in the history of the country in the fight against sleaze and combating the evils of financial and economic crimes in Nigeria. There may be truth in fears expressed in some quarters that the sacking of Ribadu may serve as the epilogue to anti-corruption crusade but the government should move in to assuage frayed nerves by appointing a committed person that is capable of continuing where Ribadu stopped.

As General Buhari once declared, the fight against corruption is not a tea party. Ribadu himself has said that his agency’s commitment to prosecute powerful men and women engaged in sleaze has led to the killings of some of his officers. The dusk is closing in for a man who gave all to cleanse the country of rot. The bigger challenge is finding a man who will take over in this crucial period in the anti-graft fight that has led to the killing of some EFCC operatives. And anyone coming to take over from Ribadu must be ready to take up this challenge.