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February 10, 2012

Ribadu Joins PDP government: Carpet Crossing, Politics without Principles

English: Nuhu Ribadu (Nigerian Politician in D...

I will not bug you with a history of carpet crossing in Nigeria. That history is too detailed to discuss here. I will borrow a cue from @delemomodu and allow historians to dust their books and seek out of them the shifting sands we call politicians. He (Dele Momodu) has pointed out some �principled� politicians who during the Abiola crisis crossed the carpet with �national interest� as justification. They include Abiola�s VP Babagana Kingibe, Alex Ibru (late), Olu Onagoruwa, Rimi, Lateef Jakande, Babatope and so on. He pointed out that only Ralph Obioha and Afikuyomi (@ToksAfikuyomi) spoke against this in those days.

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Famous �principled� statesmen and politicians can be counted among the number who joined less fancied ruling administrations and junta. Some came out with some credibility left but all have always ended up squandering their political capital and good name. I could recall Wole Soyinka, at FRSC, appointed by the embattled IBB. Wole was not really a politician and did not publicly endorse any party. But as a critic and an activist it was expected that he should remain beyond political reproach. Remember Tai Solarin? He too was an outstanding opinion leader of the people and a staunch opposition to military rule. He famously predicted that military rule was the beginning of corruption and the end of Nigeria as a democracy in his book �the beginning of the end� published and distributed in opposition to Gowon even before we realised that military rule was a bad thing. Then he too sold out and joined the Babangida administration as chairman of Peoples Bank. I could go on and on. Our politicians are all serial flip floppers. To many of them the goal post is money and power under whatever pretence it is procured and at what cost is immaterial.

That is the position that Ribadu has betrayed in accepting an appointment into the government of PDP. To President Jonathan�s credit appointing Ribadu is effectively taking out one probable challenger to PDP for 2015. Ribadu has staked his political capital on the table of this appointment to a brutal fuel subsidy probe. Like it is said �this is the devils option, whatever action he takes people must die�. If he successfully recovers fuel subsidy fraud the credit would at best be shared with President Jonathan. Remember it was President Jonathan that brought him back from exile, allowed him to contest freely the election, recruited him into his government and finally gave him a job when he was about to go broke after losing an election. If he fails to recover the fuel subsidy fraud; Ribadu will have no more credibility to bank on. His performance at EFCC will be a one time wonder. Forget his international involvement it will not count. Critics will quickly point out that Nigeria is a completely different kettle of fish. In between success or failure is a misty pool. Ribadu is without doubt the loser in any case.

Ultimately, Nigerian opposition is the loser. There has never been a consistent opposition to PDP since 1999. There has been no ideological or visionary alternative ever since. What we get is election year gangsters. Soon after they lose the election they also drop the plot, disband and most of them re-join the winning party, PDP. For once let us give some credit to IBB for developing a unique concept in founding the NRC and the SDP along the lines of slightly different ideological alternatives. He called it �a little to the left and a little to the right� Had he successfully handed over to Abiola may be IBB would have been regarded as the father of modern democratic Nigerian. It is about time for Nigeria to grow a sustained opposition ideology once again. Let someone make us a solid counter offer to what PDP is offering. Nigeria is effectively a one party state. There is no real difference between the ideologies of all the political parties. Even PDP is not firmly committed to a particular course of action. They are running the government policy by policy, budget by budget or program by program. The policies are good but before they are effectively implemented newer and �better� policies emerge. The effect is neither policy is successfully completed. Ribadu ran against PDP on the ticket of ACN and on the back of anti-corruption as his principal message. On the back of the fuel subsidy debacle he would have strengthened his case against the ruling party and pushed for an advantage for his courses. May be ACN would have won more of the on-going gubernatorial elections on the back of that. But what did he do? He flips over to a PDP government. That is the stupidest political move. Why would I abandon my advantage to join a troubled ship? That is not national interest it is selfishness and greed for immediate gratification. He has justified those that did not vote for him. It is that simple. If he cannot hold a position now how can you believe he will be different if elected? To all intent he would just as easily have justified a cross over from his anti-corruption stance to a pro-corruption stance if he won the last election. Ribadu is not deserving of our trust. This attitude is the reason why PDP has remained in power in spite of its failures. You know what they say � the devil you know is better than the angel you do not know�. People will again vote for Jonathan and PDP not because they are the best but because there is no guarantee that even Ribadu, if elected, will be different.

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