Nigerians' Travails, Endless Hunt for Change and the Gathering Storm: Where Lies the Hope?

10 April 2011

By Adebiyi Jelili Abudugana

A spectre is haunting our fatherland. What a spectre!, that is occasioned by the palpable atmosphere of discontent, feelings of dispossession, sense of abandonment and ignominy of existence writ large in our land. Horror-struck and appallingly exasperated that in a land flowing with milk and honey, 3-daily square meal and decent living are luxuries which only few can afford, the economically dispossessed and pauperized people of the land felt decimated by the powerful few who have made the common resources of the land their exclusive reserve.

Realizing that they have been blatantly socio-politically manipulated and short-changed by the powerful few who steal their resources and votes, who use ethnicity and religion to divide their ranks and yet still their voices; people of the land are increasingly incensed and alarmed that their destinies have been annihilated and pride, wickedly encroached.

Sickened that qualitative education is now outside their means and that what is left for them as a means of intellectual empowerment is a miserable educational system which produces wretched pundits and spineless literates who are considered and pronounced by the few privileged class and employers of labour as unemployable, the people of the land are more than ever, psychologically dispirited.

Upon further recognizing that the few who have maliciously cornered their destinies have improvised alternative well-funded educational system that serve their needs and that the collective resources of the land are being used in providing first-class foreign education for the children of the privileged class, the people of the land feel dolorously humanly violated and exterminatedly condescended to agonizing generational vicious cycle of a repressed class whose fate and those of their children will be perpetually exploited.

Appalled by the absolute collapse of their public health sector, traumatized that their roads are easy access to death, dismayed that lawlessness and the culture of impunity are the order of the day, and disconcerted that all economic resources of the land have been sold into the private imperious domain of the few privileged class, people of the land are exasperatingly bored and mystified with the worthlessness of their daily lives.

Albeit all these, people of the land still unwaveringly nurse a hope of a better tomorrow. Alas, this hope of a better tomorrow fades with every passing seconds and dissolves into the fogginess of uncertainty. Hence, people of the land, both in the North and in the South, East and the West are now wallowing in mounting and interminable anguish of sorrow, a debilitating dilemma which has exacerbated the menacing spectre of hopelessness and the ominous clouds of haplessness and tribulations in the land. The decimating consequences of which have necessitated the expedient hunt for change- a reversal of the tide.

What do we do?, where do we go?, and from who do we seek change, the  tithedly repressed  people of the land are asking themselves? In search for clues, the repressed people of the land increasingly became religious, only to realize that the more religiously disposed they become, the more hapless their plights deepen. Are we abandoned by God?, or Could it be that God will help only those who help themselves?, the people of the land are wondering. Why struggling to find the apposite answers to these vexing questions, the browbeaten people of the land realized that on the front row in their places of devotions are the imperious few who have ostracized their destinies. They are also realized these questionable individuals are hands in gloves with their imams and pastors. With mosques and churches in the land becoming component of the cruel machinery of the ruling class, the people of the land have now realized that since God abhors oppression and injustice, then, God will not accept and aid a supposedly religious people whose religiousity have not thought then that keeping silence in the face of oppression and injustice belies the essence of religion and what God stands for.

Realizing that they are ones who have abandoned the ways of God and disregarded the essence of religion, people of the land have now shifted attention to the second question, " Could it be that God will only help those who help themselves" by finding out what could they do so as to help themselves? Since the writer of this piece of is a member of this drifting Nigerian community, permit me to suggest a lead in what we need to do to help ourselves. In doing this, could I seek your indulgence to laconically X-ray what landed us in this miserable obdurate situation?

To a large extent, you may want to agree with me that gross leadership irresponsibility is the root of our sticky situation. Continuous disregard for our common good and wanton abuse of our resources for aggrandizing purposes by those leading us resulted into the crisis of mismanagement of our collective resources. In turn, resources mismanagement created the atmosphere of economic incapacitation, hence, the problem of poverty that has been decimating our lives. Since poverty made survival and decent living practically impossible, our people became increasingly desperate and resorted to corrupt and anti-developmental ways of making ends meet. Thus, Corruption became a societal thing which assumed various forms in different aspects of our lives. As the problem of poverty in our land increased, our parental institution started to experience alarming decadence, consequently, the corruption which has nearly ruined it. Accordingly, our land became dominated by deviants and uncultured ones, therefore, the prevailing spate of lawlessness. In effect, the place of peace in our society became substituted by restiveness and insecurity of lives and properties. The cumulative effects of all these, is the spectre of hopelessness that is abound in our land today.

Given that the leadership irresponsibility is the root of our dilemma and that the lack of discipline is the cause of leadership irresponsibility, therefore, one may argue that indiscipline is the root of our predicament. Here seems to lie the beginning of the solution to our problems, therefore, indicating that discipline is that which pinpoints what we need to do, where do we go and from whom do we seek change.

Since we all desire change, a change whose bedrock is discipline, it is only incumbent that while seeking replacement for the moribund status quo, we must first exhibit traces of discipline by jettisoning all elements of parochialism that might hamper the use of our votes to change our destinies. Little wonder, Jim Rohn sagely stated, "discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments." By ignoring this-discipline, we might as stated in the book of Proverbs, 15:32, be despising ourselves because, "He who ignores discipline despises himself." Since the status quo is what we desire to change, therefore, the incumbent leadership of the country is by implication a choice out of consideration. This has left us with a number of options among which two of them who are leading contestants for the number one seat in the land.

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the standard flag bearer of Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) will be firstly examined. Nuhu is a man whose philosophy of life is what he described as follows, "I have always believed in fighting for what is right. To stand for what is right. To abhor, to detest, to dislike dishonesty. To hate bad people. To disagree with them. And they are so many. I see them all over. I will never agree with such people. This is my own nature. It is your choice to be an armed robber if you like. It's your choice to be a responsible citizen".

During his reign as the paramount EFCC Czar, Nuhu Ribadu truly lived this dream by doing his possible best to make the country unbearable for the looters of our destinies. Although he was accused of being selective, the fact is that nobody can deny the fact that those who were victims of his anti-corruption crusade never stole or abuse public trust. Ribadu, a determined young man, fought corruption the same way corruption and corrupt ones fought him back.

While those in the PDP accused Ribadu of being used by Obasanjo to cow his enemies within, those in the opposition projected Ribadu as instrument deployed by Obasanjo to make Nigeria a one party state. Tinubu who is now Ribadu's godfather and financial once dropped this hint sometimes on 28 March, 2010 when he stated that, "I'm not interested in what they are saying, but you cannot perpetually hang the hammer of investigation over my head. It's not fair. It all started from (Nuhu) Ribadu era, from the year 2002 when they attempted to stop me from re-contesting for a second term. 'They didn't succeed. Then, in the following years, they have been talking of Bola Tinubu being under investigation. Each time I aggressively pursue a goal that is anti-establishment position, you find an act of investigation by EFCC or the authority hanging over my head. That continued from 2002 up to year 2007." Below are some of the ways the victims of Ribadu portrayed and projected the Czar of our time.

While reacting to Ribadu's allegation of 27 September 2006 on the corruption profile of Tinubu, Dele Alake, Tinubu's Commissioner of Information declared, "There is no price too high to pay for the advancement of democracy and the expansion of the political stage. This is not the first time that the governor will be hounded, and it is because he is a member of the opposition. He is being pilloried for taking a principled and critical position on crucial national affairs."- Quoted in Punch Newspaper,  9/28/2006.

Mr. Gboyega Oguntuase, Fayose's Commissioner for Information, Sports, Culture and Social Development, also accused Ribadu-led EFCC by stating that, "There is no iota of truth in the charges. The EFCC is only representing the interest of opponents of the government."It is highly shameful. The EFCC is certainly on the side of the political enemies of the government. He who alleges must prove (the allegation). We are waiting for the allegations to be proven." Quoted in Punch Newspaper,  9/28/2006

Not left out of this deriding reaction to Ribadu's claim was Orji Uzor Kalu who through his Special Adviser, Media, Mr. Iyke Ekeoma, pronounced, "We think that this is a total distraction by Nuhu Ribadu and the EFCC because the ongoing allegations of corruption in the Presidency have not been addressed by the EFCC. "Nonetheless, Nuhu Ribadu is not a law court. If there is a clear case, he should go to court. Ours is a rehash of old accusations, and they are bringing it up because our governor has raised a fundamental issue that they have failed to address." Quoted in Punch Newspaper,  9/28/2006.

The foregoing remarks authenticate our claim on how Ribadu was viewed and projected by members of the looting class within the PDP and inside the "opposition parties." One may say for doing the right thing, Ribadu was vilified by both members of the ruling PDP and those in the opposition.

For daring to challenge and expose the looters of our destiny, the iron-willed Nuhu escaped the bullets of assassins who obviously were sponsored by the former. He suffered humiliation and was disgraced out of service. Nuhu had no choice but to banish himself to exile in order to secure his life and stage a comeback for another battle of rebuilding the Nigerian image.

While explaining who and what inspired him to be a dogged fighter for a transparent and accountable society, Ribadu posited, "I think the turning point in my life was when I had the experience to do my NYSC with the Special Investigative Panel that Gen. Buhari established in 1984 to try corrupt government officials. That gave me satisfaction. It impacted positively on my life. When I finished my NYSC, I got several job opportunities. But I abandoned all to go for the police, because I felt that would give me the opportunity to do this kind of work I am doing. And it gave me satisfaction. I felt this was where my happiness would be. Do what will give you satisfaction. Ever since I have been happy doing what I am doing."

What a revelation on how a disciplined leadership could inspire and motivate its followership. Were it not for a Buhari-Idiagbon era, Ribadu might have possibly joined one of the multinationals which then were seeking his service and Nigeria could have missed his great service direly. This reminds me of a write up that I read a read long time ago, whose author, one Santos, wrote that, "the word discipline comes from the word 'disciple'. A disciple is one who learns and is constantly aware of his learning. For example, A trainee to a carpenter, learns from a master carpenter how to keep tools clean, how to use tools correctly. If he puts this learning into application, in this particular aspect he is disciplined. If a person is disciplined in a particular aspect, it is very easy to spread the essence of this discipline to the other areas of his life. The importance of discipline is well recognized in every aspect of life."

One may infer from these words of wisdom that it requires a disciplined man to inspire a disciplined order and inculcate such values in people. To have alluded that he drew his inspiration from the Buhari-Idiagbon's commitment to eradicating corruption and that it was this that impacted positively on his life and made him what he was as an anti-corruption Czar, one may conclude that Ribadu inherited from these two leaders, virtues of integrity and flashes of discipline. He may be said to be schooled in the school of Buhari-Idiagbonism, a school whereby national agenda was based on the fight against indiscipline.

Proverbially, Ribadu returned to the country after from self-imposed cum situation-compelled exile after a controversial pardon was offered him by Jonathan Goodluck leadership. With his return, Ribadu joined mainstream politic to seek elective post as the Nation's President under a party financed by Tinubu whom he, Ribadu, had once alleged to be corrupt. Ribadu dreams of changing Nigeria by bringing succor to we, the depressed people of the land, but, at what price? Like most of our people who once desired to change our wretched country and who got trapped in the same mess they were trying to address, our adored Ribadu seems to have be changed by the situation he hopes to change.

Our much-loved Ribadu whose philosophy of life is to " fighting for what is right. To stand for what is right. To abhor, to detest, to dislike dishonesty. To hate bad people. To disagree with them" and who have declared that "I will never agree with such people," seems to be violating his avowed principles of life by relying on funds from corrupt politicians to finance his campaign. To our utter chagrin, Ribadu, who vowed never to agree with dishonest people publicly declared, "I will take corrupt politicians money for my campaign as far as the money is not put in my pocket." If corrupt politician money means money obtained from dishonest means, then, the Ribadu we now know, one may contend, is different from the Ribadu who abhorred dishonesty and who will never see eye-eye with dishonest persons. This raises the crisis of integrity and furthers pinpoints that Ribadu is aware of the source of the fund for his campaign.

At this juncture, the statement which Ribadu issued on 18 February 2007 during an interview with airport correspondents is worth quoting. Ribadu publicly stated on this fateful day,  "Tinubu and the rest should consider themselves as very lucky. They ought to have been where Dariye, Fayose, Alamieyeseigha are today. They cannot escape. It is a matter of time. They have the protection of the law. They enjoy immunity. We are after them because they will want to rule us again. The constitution is against indicted people. After their tenure, they will be prosecuted. They remain indicted and are not fit to hold public positions" These people have to answer for their misdeeds instead of giving the impression that they cannot be dealt with" [See Vanguard Newspaper, 02/19/2007 pp. 1 & 15, Punch Newspaper, Mon. Feb. 19, 2007 pages 1&15.]

Ribadu further added, "We know the antics of bad people in this country. They do 419 and commit other forms of fraud and then use democracy as a vehicle to continue with their fraudulent activities. "These people have to answer for their misdeeds instead of giving the impression that they cannot be dealt with.''

Is it not ironical to note that, during an interview with Eric Osagie of The Sun Newspaper  Ribadu declared that "Well, let me tell you, in fact, what is going on in my country today. You know, it is Bola Tinubu they are trying to get at. Whoever is doing that, I just want to look at it as a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) propaganda. This is an individual who fought PDP and refused to allow PDP to take over Nigeria completely. He stopped them at Lagos gate and he gave chance for the opposition to re-organise themselves and they are coming back to free Nigeria from this unbelievable strangulation of the PDP. He is their number one enemy and they are fighting him tooth and nail, everything. And when I joined the ACN on the basis of a party with so many people, like him who fought for democracy, who fought for democracy and have something to show for it, right from the NADECO days up to this one, fighting PDP is the biggest contribution towards addressing the problems of this country." [Sun Newspaper, 01/01/2011]. Do I hear you say, personality summersault or lack of discipline. While I may want to agree with you, can we jointly take a look at Tinubu's response to Ribadu's statement which was earlier quoted in the second paragraph that preceded this.

Tinubu, through Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, the former's Chief Press Secretary replied Ribadu, "We recall that the President alleged that a former Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Rahman Mimiko, mismanaged his office and that he would soon send the EFCC after him. We also note that the feeble defence offered by Ribadu in his interview with The Guardian on Sunday is that he cannot control what the President says. "For us in the opposition, we can see through the hypocrisy behind the so-called anti-corruption crusade." If this response is reconciled with reactions of other governors to Ribadu's anti-corruption drive (some of which have been quoted in this article), and the statement of Ribadu quoted in the preceding paragraph, one may say that Ribadu has himself alluded to the fact that his anti-corruption crusade was a mere facade. But I won't want to totally agree with this position but may possibly agree with a position which contends that Ribadu has been devoured by the reality of change in the Nigerian context. It may also be that just like a character which is not continuously refined or an excellence which is not improved upon from time-to-time expire with time, it may be that the discipline which kept Ribadu going during his golden-days as anti-corruption Czar has expired with time, so, the crisis of integrity and personality summersault that have befallen him of late.

Ribadu seems to be a victim what he describes of corruption in his lecture entitled, "Capital Loss and Corruption: The Example of Nigeria" "as not just a system of bribes and patronage, but the systematic undermining of responsible governance, of visionary leadership, of a society's ability to meet and overcome challenges." [Ribadu's Testimony before the US House Financial Services Committee on May 19, 2009] 

Given the veracity of Ribadu's claim that, "corruption is part of the reason that African nations cannot fight diseases properly, cannot feed their populations, cannot educate their children and use their creativity and energy to open the doorway to the future they deserve," then, by relying on corrupt politician's money, based on his postulation, Ribadu is unfit to lead the process of change we are longing for. By relying on stolen wealth or using the philosophy of extrapolating the extrapolated, Ribadu is making us realize how impossible it is for him to get our helpless population well-fed, how impracticable it is for him to get us qualitative and affordable education and why our situation might not change with him as the director of our affairs.

Since Mallam Nuhu Ribadu also sought the endorsement of the self-acclaimed evil genius, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB), one may be forced to say time and vicissitudes of corruption has changed our Czarist Ribadu. Was it not the same Ribadu who sometimes in January 2006 during a speech he delivered at the 3rd Media Trust Annual Dialogue in Abuja  on the theme "Corruption: The Trouble With Nigeria," declared IBB as the patent originator of institutional corruption in Nigeria. While tracing the history of woes during this lecture  Ribadu stated, …Alhaji Shehu Shagari, "had very little to show for the huge investment of confidence of the populace in the new democratic dispensation which as they had promised would lead Nigeria out of the woods […]As it turned out, profligacy came to be what that attempt at civilian governance came to be known and remembered for. Disrespect for the rule of law started to manifest seriously during this period. Of course, there was bare-faced, free-for-all looting of public funds through white elephant projects. This period witnessed the massive erosion of the nation's morals and ethics,…"

During the administration of Buhari-Idiagbon, he continued, "Public officers accused and convicted for corrupt practices were given as much as five lifetime jail sentences each and all the ill-gotten wealth confiscated. […]  

Ribadu however regretted that, "the Buhari-Idiagbon regime's attempts at facing up to the problem, which achieved modest results in the direction of national re-orientation was rubbished by the actions of the subsequent military regimes that governed the country between 1985-1998… Corruption became the sole guiding principle for running affairs of state. The period witnessed a total reversal and destruction of every good thing in the country and positive values were jettisoned, agencies were decimated.The decline we noticed in the education sector today also started in that period. The shameless rot in the aviation sector, the absence of an efficient public transport system, the collapse of our public schools, the thievery in the ports and the decay in our health care delivery system all of which huge sums had been budgeted and spent are a direct reflection of the poverty of leadership of that era. The military regimes of that period legitimized corruption and in effect did not offer much to the Nigerian nation[…] rather than encourage and promote the virtues of accountability, respect for the rule of law and patriotism, the leadership we had destroyed institutions that sustain the growth of society, unleashing on the rest of the people an army of blind loyalists with the explicit instructions to do whatever it will take, or including brazen theft and violence to strengthen their stranglehold on power"

In view of the fact that one of the reasons why we have been taken for granted so far is because  of what Ribadu described as "ours is an accepting, not a questioning society," then, for seeking the use of corrupt politicians for his electioneering campaigns and for seeking the endorsement of the man who institutionalized corruption in Nigeria, we hereby question the integrity of Ribadu, and raises serious doubt about his capabilities to lead us out of woes. If Professor Attahiru Jega's scholarly statement which reads, "we have corruption as a problem because we have poverty of leadership who have institutionalized corruption in the country" is anything to go by, then, whoever seeks the endorsement or funding of such people may as well be considered as a part of our problems and not of solution finding attempt. 

Where then lies our of a secured tomorrow? It seems to me that the answer may be  deduced from a relevant saying of Martin Luther King, Jr., "The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."

Could the desirable man be the person who according to the findings of State Department, Washington, "character traits showcase Buhari's appeal. Nigerian perception of candidates' character traits may help explain support for candidates. Of all ......the candidates, Buhari is most frequently associated with integrity, leadership, accountability, honesty and transparency". 

Could the right man be the individual who in a book entitled, "Not My Will" was described by Olusegun Obasajo thus: "General Muhammadu Buhari as a member of the Supreme Military Council and as Head of NNPC was by nature taciturn and introvert. But he took any work that was given to him very seriously. He is reliable as he is hardworking and honest".  

Could it be the man who, according to Vanguard's Newspaper editorial of 23 January 2003 was described thus: "Buhari is a forthright and very clearly a disciplined man. He has managed to cut the image of a person who abhors corruption genuinely. If Buhari does not want to make a promise, he is the kind of person that will say so. Buhari is likely to pay attention to the problems of the country, unlike Obasanjo who floats in the air and most of the time plays to the gallery" 

May be it may possibly be the man was described by Chief Olu Falae as follows: "Buhari has three qualities namely INTERGRITY, which even his worst enemies can't fault; he is CONSISTENT, he does not say one thing in the morning and another at night, and he is COMMITTED to implementing the restructuring of the country. Anyone with these qualities deserves the support of Nigerians"

It may be the man who Femi Falana expressed thus: "Buhari stands out to be the most DEDICATED and PATRIOTIC leader. We want the President who would confront both the foreign and local enemies of democracy." 

Fellow citizens, the options are yours to decide but I would like to leave you to ponder over what Santos described thus: "The strength of a nation lies in discipline. No nation can progress unless its citizens are disciplined. Nature is the best mirror of perfect discipline to all of us. The earth, the sun, the moon and other planets are governed by certain laws to maintain perfect harmony and beauty. Any deviation from these set rules, will spell an utter disaster in nature.
A family having no discipline becomes a den of quarrels and is ultimately divided. An educational institution having no discipline doesn't impart value based education."

Adebiyi Jelili Abudugana, the author of this article was a former UNILAG student leader and he can be reached through The views expressed in this article are solely that of the author and does not reflect that of Organizations to which I am affiliated.


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