It was President Goodluck Jonathan who, in that infamous jibe on February 8, 2011 while flagging-off his campaign in the South-West geo-political zone, in Ibadan, declared (in reference to the states led by non-PDP governors) that the South-West is too sophisticated to be left in the hands of rascals come April 2011.

Well, inspired by that unfortunate un-presidential slang, the PDP’s Gross National Failure (GNF) in 12 years as well as by a careful observation of some recent developments in the polity, I think it is time we establish that Nigeria is too complex to be left in the hands of weaklings!

My hypothesis about Jonathan and by extension, Sambo being weaklings is hinged on Jonathan’s own personal admittance about his limited administrative capacity in a meeting with the former US Ambassador to Nigeria revealed by the WikiLeaks cables. How do we reconcile Jonathan’s administrative incapacity in the midst of the ravaging PDP political wolves that will go to any extent to influence Jonathan for their personal interests? It is now known that the governors have always taken advantage of Jonathan’s widely believed naivety and always tried to arm-twist him. Indeed, one governor even admitted that most PDP governors rallied around Jonathan at the primaries not because he was the better candidate but simply because Jonathan’s naivety meant they could manipulate him into meeting their demands!

Ribadu, meanwhile, was sacked by late President Yar’Adua because his abrasive outspokenness clashed with the ex-President’s more discreet but slow and unconvincing anti-corruption crusade – a thing which has continued under his former Vice-President and now President, Goodluck Jonathan. Indeed, in 2009, Ribadu was a keynote speaker at an anti-corruption conference for Africa organised by the United Nations Development Programme in which he shared his strong convictions and experiences taking on grand corruption. You only need to read A Paradise for Maggots: The Story of a Nigerian Anti-graft Czar by Wale Adebanwi or The Problem of Corruption in Africa: The Nigerian Experience by Ribadu himself to be able to appreciate how Ribadu, whom Chinua Achebe describes as an “important crusader for justice”, bestrode the anti-corruption drive like a colossus!

The main trust of Nigeria’s problems is not a lack of creative ideas as to the way forward but a systemic dearth of the capacity and bold political will required to drive those ideas into fruition and the integrity needed to bring all defaulters to book. While Jonathan’s campaign is giddy with excitement on the soap box and shying away from pinpointing with precision how it intends to overhaul a system that has failed woefully, Ribadu has challenged the signature symbol of the PDP’s GNF wherein 80% of Nigeria’s total spending is used to sustain government (recurrent capital) and only 20% is used for capital expenditure and has promised to do a much-needed swap (20% for recurrent capital and 80% for capital expenditure). Such a swap, for instance, will mean that the outrageously high earnings of Nigeria’s legislators take a serious downward review. At N182m and N127m respectively, the annual pay for senators and House of Representatives members is stupendously high. We must evolve an economy where value is what determines income. Only Ribadu has demonstrated the resolve to reverse such trends.

On the other hand, as if to worsen matters and compromise the financial integrity of future generations, Jonathan’s 2011 budget, premised on borrowing, is unfortunately set to continue to drain our sovereign wealth.

As EFCC Chairman, Ribadu had the boldness and courage to take on top guns in the political establishment including his boss, the then Inspector-General of Nigeria, Tafa Balogun. Ribadu’s extensive groundbreaking work against corruption boosted our country’s profile abroad and attracted huge foreign investments in ways not seen since he was dropped. Jonathan, as President is naïve and clearly lacks the stamina to tackle corruption head on. Ribadu’s running mate, Fola Adeola is a man of character who founded the Guaranty Trust Bank in 1990 and served as its CEO for 12 years after which he was offered the cabinet position of finance minister in the Obasanjo administration in 2003 but turned it down. Given the complex financial mess the PDP has put Nigeria in, it will require the intelligent input of a career professional like Adeola to steer the ship of state to safety.

On the contrary, Jonathan chose Namadi Sambo, a governor for three years as his Vice-President and running mate because he wasn’t known to have any strategic national political credentials that could compromise Jonathan’s ambition (against the suspicions of some in the North). Very cowardly, Sambo, on October 22, 2010 in the UK said it was right to make Nigeria a G-20 member. Sambo submitted that the G-20 consists of the most industrialised economies of the world but fell short of admitting that Nigeria is clearly not so industrialised.

Recently, a UK-based Nigerian said he was part of a Diaspora organisation that supported Jonathan on the grounds that they who are out there (in the West) know who Western leaders want to do business with. This sounded like a revelation that the West is willing to do business with Jonathan because he has not shown the capacity to challenge them.

Nigeria needs a strong leader who can stand up to the West so that recent unscrupulous deals by Western companies such as Shell, Siemens and Halliburton on the back of government infiltration could be prevented.

Nigeria needs a strong leader who can confront corruption head on and take on the “untouchables” who are draining our beloved country of amazing chunks of wealth; a leader who is not naive or weak. Until we can significantly reduce corruption, developmental projects will continue to suffer huge losses. If you can’t confront corruption, you surely can’t deliver adequate power or provide security or jobs for youths. Corruption is our biggest problem in Nigeria. It is the root cause of all our other problems.

Whereas President Jonathan hasn’t demonstrated the capacity to confront corruption or to systematically manage our country’s wealth, Ribadu has. It would therefore be wise to vote Ribadu rather than Jonathan for President in the April elections. We need a proven Nuhu Ribadu and not a weak Goodluck Jonathan as President of Nigeria in May 2011!


Posted September 28, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

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