Let me say right away that my intervention last week on this column was not really about Ribadu as a person. And here’s why its not.
have received many personal e-mails, for and against my Ribadu intervention. Please keep the comments coming.
I would like to say that my intervention is not really about Ribadu as such.
It is rather about a certain brash tendency that many bright young people in Nigeria bring to the task when they are appointed to high public office. They end up making a mess of it all, and we turn all emotional when they get hit by their mistakes, or their misdeeds. After the emotions, we all forget, and another bright fellow comes to the stage and repeats the exact same mistakes.
If I must link it to the Ribadu case, we need to stress the point that the ex-EFCC boss failed to focus on the big political picture as he went about the little details of his job. I stressed this point in the article: “if the man who appoints you pays lip service to anti-corruption and you chose to go out on a limb, you end up in the cold as well.”
The second mistake he made was not accepting the position of Deputy Commissioner, which would have placed him above most of his course mates in the Police anyway. By rejecting it, he certainly would have played into the hands of the same people that everybody wants me to believe were instrumental to his sack. It was a tactical blunder.
My position has always been that our anti-corruption war is not likely to be prosecuted by our current politicians – even if they deploy 1000 Ribadu’s to the battle. Why? Because it is basically a war against themselves and no one wants to fight a war of attrition!
Therefore, until better strategies and tactics are marshaled out and executed by the people who elect politicians, we would all be wasting our time, and weeping endlessly when someone who looks like a “messiah” comes to the stage and is rubbished. Think back to Kalu Idika Kalu. It was so with late Tai Solarin in Peoples Bank. It was so with Kongi in Road Safety. It will continue thus, as long as we have the present crop of politicians with their “C” mindset.
This intervention is actually for those who, tomorrow, may find themselves appointed to sensitive positions in government. They need to learn the politics of doing their jobs, and retaining those jobs. They need to learn how to watch their backs and not leave their flanks open. They need to understand their bosses and march in tandem with their political steps, as far as their jobs are concerned. We have witnessed many recent examples of people who marched out of step. More recently, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had her baptism of fire, but was saved because she had people like Paul Nwabuikwu, and a reputation management strategy behind her. Nasiru El Rufa’i will certainly get his, sooner or later; so would Oby Ezekwesili, if she ever decides to come home to “meddle”.
For emphasis, what this means is NOT that you sit on the job. What it means is that you do the job with common sense and decency, and maintain a certain dignity and affableness that the people need to shower you with good wishes and prayers. For instance, is it not common knowledge that religious congregations (Christian and Muslim alike) were praying against Nasiru el-Rufa’i? It was not because his objective was not noble; it was because his methods were unconscionable – shocking and sometimes morally unacceptable.
Every first class brain in the Obasanjo regime was not like this. We can point to the example of the one person who, in my view, has been exceptional (and very, very effective) in his approach: Charles Chukwuma Soludo.
Public office should not be turned into a rabblerousing exercise that plays to the emotions of the not very perceptive minds.
So that I will not become a mere armchair critic, I shall focus next on how we can effectively wage the anti-corruption battle in Nigeria and win.