Friday, December 28, 2007

Nuhu Ribadu - A Blogger's Views

This news sadden me today so much that I cant stop thinking where this country is going. First, the IG confirm that the Chairman of EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu is proceeding on a year course at NIPSS at Kuru near Jos. It is not even an overseas course to broaden his fight on corruption, but a mere strategic course here in Nigeria. The truth is the moment he proceeds on that course, two things are bounds to happen - the EFCC would be merged with other corruption fighting bodies or better still, he may be re-assign by the time he completed the course.
What is quite clear that the government does not want the public to believe is that, Nuhu Ribadu had been removed as EFCC chairman. Much as there had been no different in the leadership of the current FCT Minister as against what his predecessor in office in El-Rufai did in office, so shall it be if Nuhu ribadu is replaced by a seeming stooge who is ready to dance to the tune of the politicians.
I continue to ask myself whether the course he is to attend is more important than the job he is currently doing. If the training is important, I dont see the reason where he cannot be allow to do on-the-job training. The government should stop playing on our psyche, they should simply tell the world that he was simply sacked.
By the way, what will happen if Ribadu simply resigned from the force, whereby he wont have to proceed on any Police organized course? Would he still retain his portfolio as EFCC Chairman? The answer is Yes, but it wont take long before he will also be force to resign or remove unceremoniously. In my own view, I still find it deem fit for him to resign from the Police Force, I am sure he wont lose at the end of the day, as there will be a lot of International appointment waiting for him. The guy has create a niche for himself. In any case, we await further development on the matter, especially the reactions of our Law makers on this scenarios, since it was them the EFCC Chairman was reporting to.


ababoypart2 said...

Obviously this 'course' must be more important. The message being sent out by this rudderless government is pretty clear. This nation is not willing to shed its past!

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing that only the president can remove the EFCC head. I really hope this is true, and politics will not rob Nigeria of a genuine hero.

Anonymous said...

Removing Ribadu
By Reuben Abati

I am surprised that many of the commentators on the removal of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have been sounding as if something strange and unexpected has just happened. Ribadu's removal was foreseeable.

The signals as I had argued in this column in "Yar'Adua, The Attorney General and the EFCC", were evident early enough in the desperation with which the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation was being used to harass the EFCC and its Chairman, and to obstruct the work of the Commission. First. the office of the Attorney General, specifically Michael Aondoakaa, the Attorney General himself, had sought to take over the functions of the EFCC waving Section 174 of the Constitution. Second, the same Attorney General of the Federation played an insidious role in the trial of James Ibori by a London Court when he chose to upstage the EFCC and provided such information that freed Ibori at the time from the strictures of the British judiciary.

Third, Michael Aodoaaka has been flying the kite of the possible merger of the various anti-corruption agencies, the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and the Code of Conduct Bureau following a so-called petition by Ebonyi state about a duplication of functions. But it is obvious enough that Aondoakaa is not just acting his own script. He is an agent of the President and of a clique within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, which under the Yar'Adua administration is playing a familiar game of deception.

Corruption is a way of life for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), and its associates, including their children and other family members, in and out of office. Although Ribadu is an appointee of the PDP, he was beginning to behave like a man who could turn against his own sponsors. By May 29, Ribadu had become larger than life, larger than the political party that put him in power. In his statements and in the protestations of his supporters, he was beginning to sound like a special creation that is superior to government. Such expression of independence, no matter how patriotic the intent may be, is unacceptable to the usual cabal that is in power in African states. African politicians like to send only one message: "I am in charge!".

It is these same forces that stopped Soludo's Naira redenomination policy and his reference to a certain law that grants the Central Bank of Nigeria autonomy, that have now moved in to stop Ribadu. Soludo had argued that the CBN Act empowers him to act on monetary and fiscal policies without reference to any superior authority. He had to be stopped, if only to remind him that the President is the superior and final authority. Ribadu and his supporters insist that his removal is illegal. They rely on sections of the EFCC Act dealing with his tenure of office and grounds for his removal and appointment. They argue that he has a renewed four year tenure, which has not yet expired and that the EFCC Act does not talk about a study leave such as has been imposed on him. They argue further that although the EFCC Chairman is a police officer, he is not under the control of the Inspector General of Police.

What the Yar'Adua government has done is to explode all of this by asking the Inspector General of Police to send the EFCC Chairman on a year study leave at the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). What President Yar'Adua has done is to put Ribadu in his place. This is yet another decision that has been taking purely for egoistic reasons. We may not believe this, but we are dealing with a President who cannot tolerate prima donnas. The politics of Ribadu's removal is obviously more important than its legality. We are dealing with an expression of power in an elemental form.

I stretch this argument again to cover my submissions last week here, in "Obasanjo's nemesis." The assault on the CBN, the EFCC, the harassment of Nasir El-Rufai over his tenure as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, and other reversals of the planks of the Obasanjo administration and legacy amount in the end to an attack on former President Obasanjo. To be his own man, President Yar'Adua has to dismantle the old order and its agents within the system. Those who are have been sounding as if they are bereaved with Ribadu's exit should simply realise that we are confronted with a power contest within the PDP, a political party where individual egos are more important than issues.

But the danger is that this kind of politics shortens the length of our democracy and subverts in this instance, the initial gains of the anti-corruption war. I had argued that President Yar'Adua is not in a position to fight the war against corruption. His hands are tied. He has too many political IOUs to pay. His government is itself the product of a grand scale act of political corruption.

What I do not like, though, is his cowardice. President Yar'Adua must learn to act decisively. If he wanted Ribadu out of the way, he could have done so the moment he came to power. Nobody doubts the fact that the law grants him the powers to sack the EFCC Chairman. He can if he also wishes, dismantle the EFCC. Going about the same task in a deceptive manner is sloppy and time-wasting. The clear message is that the Yar'Adua administration is not serious about the anti-corruption campaign. The President should be ready to stand by his convictions and stop playing games.

The EFCC under Ribadu may have had its excesses, and these have been well noted (the charge of selectivity, the politicization of the work of the Commission, Ribadu's windbaggery, the use of the Commission by Obasanjo to target perceived enemies etc). But the same EFCC helped to raise the level of international confidence in Nigeria. Its work in the area of financial crimes helped to effectively criminalize the theft of state funds by public officials.

It further drove financial scammers, the notorious 419 underground. The Financial Action Task Force which had blacklisted Nigeria as at 1999 found cause to lift its embargo on Nigeria as a destination for investment capital. We also got better ratings on the Transparency International Index. Stolen wealth began to flow back into the Nigerian economy, it accounts largely for the boom in the Nigerian stock market in the past three years.

In the long run, it is the Yar'Adua administration that is in the dock. Ribadu is out, so what next? No man is indispensable, and nobody has said that Ribadu's name is written into the EFCC Act as Chairman for life, but how strong is the EFCC as an institution? Can it continue to function after the exit of its high profile Chairman? Is the EFCC bigger than one man or is it a one-man show?

And more importantly, how willing is the Yar'Adua government to sustain the war against corruption? Ribadu's exit surely provides an opportunity to test the strength of the EFCC as an institution and the commitment of the Yar'Adua government to the anti-corruption war. The easiest way to circumvent this charge is to bury the EFCC along with its Chairman and create as they have been proposing, a new anti-corruption body under a new leadership. Even if they do so, both civil society and the international community will remain interested in how the Yar'Adua government deals with the challenge of corruption and therefore subject its every move on this score to close scrutiny.

The second danger that I see is that the repeated policy somersaults now defining the Yar'Adua government and the seeming wholesale reversal of the work of the previous administration, without coherent explanations, sends a dangerous signal to investors in the Nigerian economy. It deepens the level of uncertainties in the system. It is a sign of instability. Who knows what the Yar'Adua government will dismantle next? Investors in the economy need to be reassured that this government will not continue to act in a manner that turns uncertainty into a veritable mechanism.

President Yar'Adua must realize that he will be judged on his own records. He has been quite active reforming the past. But when will be begin to focus on the present? Nigerians have lost seven months already, "turning and turning in the wildering gyre" under this Presidency. Effectively, there is just about 18 months left, before President Yar'Adua and his colleagues begin to ask for a second term in office, and when that campaign begins, governance will more or less grind to a halt. Nigerians would have been short-changed again.

As for Ribadu, he is exiting from the EFCC, with glory and mixed fortunes, but not disgrace. He has done a great job of drawing attention to the depth and spread of corruption in the land and the need to sanitise the polity. At great personal risk, he pursued his assignment with gusto The moment has now come for him to learn a few lessons about power politics. But if he wishes to force the issue, he can call their bluff and resign from the Nigeria Police Force right now, and thus make it impossible for the Inspector General of Police to send him on any study leave.

Since the EFCC Act allows the Chairman of the Commission to be a retired Police Officer, the Presidency will then be required to make up its mind and act courageously if it so wishes. There is a second option of course: Ribadu can eat the humble pie, act like an obedient servant and go off to the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, where his bosses think he will receive the further training that he needs!. He definitely has a choice in this matter.