It is somehow laughable that quite a sizable number of people were shocked at the defection of former police officer, Nuhu Ribadu, from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). One still wonders how Nigerians expected him to be different from other politicians in the land, his former position as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman notwithstanding. I think there is something in the way our politicians play the game that should have given us a strong shock absorber. A Nigerian politician can do anything.
We are quick in throwing up heroes even when such people have not done anything extraordinary in their lives. But because we are a country in perpetual search of people to put garlands on their necks, we gloss over the imperfections and contradictions in the lives of those in public service. Just cast a glance across our political landscape and you’ll be amazed at a Segun Oni and a Kayode Fayemi dining at the same political table while an Isiaka Adeleke and a Rauf Aregbesola share the same podium to canvass votes. Rewind and play the tapes of how these ones were once mortal political enemies few years back. So, why must Ribadu’s case be different, he’s a politician after all.
Even when properly dissected, his tenure as EFCC chairman was not devoid of political moves. His media handlers in EFCC presented him as the best thing that ever happened in the land. We should, however, not forget in a hurry how former Governors Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Joshua Dariye were removed from office and the ever-constant accusation then of selective prosecution. Ever since Ribadu joined the Action Congress of Nigeria emerging as its presidential candidate in the 2011 elections, he lost his innocence and veneer of objectivity some of us have covered him with in the course of his assignments.
But I do not wish to be counted among the army of Ribadu bashers that dot the media landscape just as I’ve never been one of his aficionados. We need to situate his action in the socio-political milieu of our country presently. His spokesperson told Punch newspaper last week, “In Nigeria, especially in politics, you can’t say that this is an exclusive party for the people who are thieves or this is for good people.” Anybody who disagrees with this statement must definitely be living in planet mars. Good and bad people exist in all the political parties in the land today; no party can claim an exclusive preserve of good people. Look at the gale of defection across party lines and one would discover that the mantra of an average politician is power at all cost. No principles, no scruples, not even a concerted plan of action as long electoral victories are secured, party affiliation does not matter.
A friend of mine who was a close aide of a former governor always tell me not to trust any politician as they always hold all their cards to their chests. Over a year ago, he predicted a gale of defections as 2015 draw nearer. He has never failed to give me the I-told-you-so look whenever we discuss politics. When you hear the argument of “it’s what my people want” or “that party is more popular” in my area, just know that’s another desperado talking with eyes fixed on the next cycle of elections. Ribadu is just the face of this phenomenon; we don’t know the next person to defect. Our brand of democracy is such an exotic species that political parties are not viewed as great instruments of developing an ideology that can last long.
It is those who saw or still see Ribadu as a mentor that I feel for in this saga. I realised some really believed in him as a pathfinder after reading the lamentations and seeing the cyber ululations on social media platforms after his defection. Did they think he is different from an average Nigerian politician? Whenever I see Nigerians waxing lyrical about the supposed wonderful qualities of a political party, I wonder if they are speaking of another society. Our parties merely exist in name; they are far from real political parties at least not in the realm of Action Group with clear manifesto and cardinal programmes.
I wish Ribadu well in its latest adventure, after all politics is local and so his people’s welfare should be paramount. I just hope he has another plan if he did not emerge as the next governor of Adamawa State, because nothing is certain in politics.