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NUHU RIBADU: THE TRIUMPHAL RETURN OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION FIGHTERBy Gozie Irogboli

Jun 28, 2023 #News


When electing people into political offices, the electorates have some expectations based on needs, peculiarities and challenges. When Nigerians elected Mohammadu Buhari in 2015, they expected him to fight corruption as he had promised during the electioneering campaign period prelude to his election and usher in an era of economic prosperity but he failed woefully in that direction.

Nigerians also expected him to strengthen national security given his background as a retired army general but unfortunately, he played politics with it and in the most bizarre and unpatriotic manner compromised our national security. Thus, one of the things Nigerians desired most desperately in this post-Buhari era apart from economic emancipation is security.

And it is against this background that the appointment of Nuhu Ribadu, a retired police AIG, the award-winning, internationally-acclaimed anti-corruption fighter as the national security adviser (NSA) the penultimate week by Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) is attracting a lot of interests and has been interpreted by observers in different ways.


Some of the critics of Ribadu’s appointment are some military officers who believed that the appointment is an aberration of a sort in that it has been the norm in Nigeria to appoint the NSAs usually from retired military generals. But some scholars are of the view that national security is beyond military strategy and operations which are relevant mostly in combating external aggression but involve more complex processes of diplomacy, communal and civil engagement that a civilian in the mould of Ribadu can effectively handle given his pedigree and track record.


Again, the appointment is seen as an attempt to copy the western countries whose security challenges are diametrically and fundamentally different from that of Nigeria. But clearly, there is nothing wrong in copying global best practice if that is what is required to solve our seemingly intractable problem of insecurity.

More so, as our former NSAs cannot be said to have done very well otherwise we would not be in this current state of namby-pamby security situation. Indeed, fighting insecurity can be done through proactive measures involving intelligence, technology, collaborative efforts and civil engagement—dialogue, arbitration, negotiation, and subtle empowerment of the people etcetera—and not necessarily through force or ill-advised military maneuvers like: Operation Python Dance as heretofore that exacerbated the security situation in the country.


Similar to the above is the believe by some critics that the appointment is as a move by BAT to ingratiate himself to the international community by giving the impression that he wants to run a transparent government because of the Ribadu’s reputation as a man of integrity. Yet, some see it as a move to cover his tracks or to be reunited with a former political ally.
In contrast, however, some concerned Nigerians see Ribadu’s appointment as a step in the right direction. Many Nigerians seem to have confidence in the ability of Nuhu Ribadu to deliver despite the insinuations that the EFCC which he was the pioneer chairman was never given a firm footing as it functions as a mere tool in the hand of the president to persecute perceived political enemies and opponents. Many believed that his appointment is strategic.

Coming from the part of the country that is ravaged by insurgency and terrorism Ribadu who has the reputation of a dogged fighter is believed to be the right man to fight to end terrorism in the country. And they cannot be wrong. He is tested and trusted.
Undoubtedly, the arguments about the appointment may appear misleading for it seems to downplay Ribadu’s pedigree, qualification and experience.

Mr. Nuhu Ribadu had a master’s degree in Law and was called to Nigerian Bar before enlisting into the Nigerian Police Force in 1986 where he excelled and distinguished himself as one of the finest officers of the force, rising meteorically to the rank of AIG before he retired following the controversial manner in which he was relieved of his position from the EFCC where he was the pioneer chairman and was reappointed for a second tenure because of his performance, the only person to have been so honored.

In the course of his career, he attended many courses and institutions at home and abroad including the prestigious Nigerian Institute of strategic studies in Jos. He had many award to show for his performance. His training and vast experience in law, crime fighting, anti-corruption war, politics, civil engagement, strategic studies and international assignment will be useful in his new role as the NSA.


Nevertheless, the concerns about the appointment of Nuhu Ribadu as our National Security Adviser are germane and expected. Just as I hinted earlier, apart from a good economic team, Nigerians expect a good team for national security too that has been bastardized by Buhari’s incompetence, negligence, nepotism and insensitivity.
Analysts and concerned citizens are usually interested in the quality of political appointments made by the government for it is a measure of the preparedness or the desire of the government to implement its policies or design programs that will engender development and meet the aspirations of the people.

Most times appointments are made not based on competence as we witnessed in the immediate past regime of Buhari but for political compensation and primordial consideration that is why we have many instances of mismatch and putting square peg in a round hole and vice versa in the immediate past regime.
But, no matter how the appointment is viewed, the greater majority of Nigerians are of the opinion that it is well deserved for the former anti-corruption czar. His appointment is viewed as a round peg in a round hole. In truth, I have never been a fan of Nuhu Ribadu because of the high-handedness that characterized the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo era that gave rise to the multiplicity of security challenges confronting the nation at present but I think that Nuhu Ribadu was one of the very few individuals that distinguished themselves creditably in that regime.

He drew the world attention to the endemic corruption prevalent in the country and became a reference point and a global go-to person in anti-corruption war.
You may not like Nuhu Ribadu because of his characteristic austere, no-nonsense posturing but one thing is clear; you can’t fault his unalloyed commitment to the fight against corruption and his commitment to peace and security of the nation. And on a personal note, I see his appointment as the NSA as a step in the right direction. Love him or hate him, one thing you cannot take away from him is his ruthless efficiency in the discharge of his duty.

His commitment and dedication to duty as attested to by his track record is clearly nonpareil. Added to this, are his courage, boldness and patriotic fervor that have made him an officer with a difference. His colleagues and those close to him know him as a man of principles and of high ethical standard. This is the kind of personality Nigeria needs to tidy up things in our security sector at present.

Gozie Irogboli
An economist, a novelist and public policy analyst
(goziei@yahoo.com)

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