By Muntaka Abdul-Hadi Dabo
Monday, 21st November 1960 will forever remain a memorable day for Nigeria and the rest of the world. For it was on that day an iconic figure was born. The day is also a birthday for some prominent and famous people like Brain Ritchie and Brian McNamara in the United States, and in this special month of November, people of the US went to the polls to elect their 46th president.
Malam, as he is fondly called by many is celebrating his 63rd birthday today. A man of impeccable character who exemplifies iconic leadership traits in all his public and private life is a globally recognized brand. He was, and still is a blessing and inspiration to millions of people near and far. He has successfully built an incorruptible record of service that still remains unbeatable by any public officer in the past and present Nigeria. Needless to add that he was the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
Since leaving the service of the EFCC, his unstained reputation continues to ring loud bells in almost every household across Nigeria and beyond, because of his outstanding performance in every office he occupied, particularly in the last two decades. He rose to global prominence when he was appointed to head the anti-graft Agency by the then President Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo between the period of 2003-2008. His doggedness, foresightedness and fearlessness made him confronted corruption head-on, and this exemplary style of leadership catapulted EFCC as the most performing agency at then. Presently, the EFCC has lost its past glory. The excellent, selfless and competent services that were rendered and the subsequent achievements recorded by Mallam still remains undefeated to this day.
Recalled that it was during his tenure that most corrupt politicians and public office holders were brought to book for various but grave corruption charges labelled against them. The brave and fearless Malam touched those who thought they were untouchable, and they all ended up in prison. It’s interesting to note that contrary to what some misguided people say about him – that he was being used by Obasanjo to witch-hunt the latter’s political opponents, most of the people that were arrested by the EFCC under Ribadu were all convicted and sent to jail by a competent court of law. Under the leadership of Nuhu Ribadu, EFCC issued thousands of indictments and achieved about 270 convictions. One notable case was that of his boss, the then Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun, who was convicted, jailed and made to return £150 million under a plea bargain. Bode George, DSP Alamieyeseigha were not all spared by the Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC.
It is a common knowledge to any discerning mind that one of the arrested politicians James Ibori offered $15 million bribe and a mansion abroad to the EFCC boss so that his case could be closed, but as expected of the no-nonsense and honest police officer, Ribadu turned down the offer by not accepting the illegal money that can turn his fortune to a billionaire! He deposited the money in the central bank of Nigeria to serve as evidence against Ibori of Delta State who then fled the country in 2010 but was apprehended in Dubai and eventually extradited to the UK. Ibori was found guilty by the UK court on money laundering where he served only a 4-year prison term out of the initial 13-year sentence handed to him.
It saddens me whenever I read negative comments about Nuhu Ribadu, even though I don’t expect him to be liked by everyone, but it’s quite unfortunate when people who made a lot of sacrifices and served their fatherland diligently are not much celebrated in their homeland. Could it be a deliberate attempt to let the labour of our present heroes go in vain? While in the service of Nigeria police force and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu diligently served his motherland and recorded quite a number of tremendous achievements that no one has so far recorded such in the history of EFCC. The most notable amongst his achievements are the delisting of Nigeria from the FATF’s list of Non-cooperative countries and territories, admission into the prestigious Egmont group and the withdrawal of US Treasury advisory on Nigeria by the FINCEN, these, together with many unmentioned achievements, were critical to the perception of Nigeria globally.
Nuhu Ribadu, a trained lawyer and fearless crime fighter, is a proud recipient of several awards as a police officer, prosecutor and chairman of EFCC. He received the IGP special awards in 1997, 1998 and 2000. In 2008, he received the World Bank’s Jit Gill memorial award for outstanding public service for having led a courageous anti-corruption drive in Nigeria as head of EFCC. In 2008, Ribadu completed the senior Executive course of the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies where he was conferred with the Membership of the National Institute, MNI.
In June 2010, Babcock University Ogun State awarded him a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) in recognition of his resolute change as well as his fierce stance against corruption in the face of sponsored disgrace and death threats. This has resulted into positive changes and global acclaim hitherto considered impossible. Since 2014, notable newspapers and magazines have repeatedly voted Dr Nuhu Ribadu as man of the year, in recognition of his outstanding achievements as a committed crusader against corruption and other related crimes.
No matter how Malam is perceived, one thing is certain, and that’s his outstanding achievements which can’t be questioned or taken away from him. The diligent and excellent services he rendered to his fatherland were not only recognized in Nigeria, but internationally. His outstanding performance later earned him a work with the United Nation as the UN Special Envoy to Afghanistan by the UN Department for International Development. The Adamawa-born politician, TED fellow and a Senior Fellow in St. Anthony’s College of University of Oxford, London has since written his name in Gold, especially when he conceded defeat in the 2015 gubernatorial elections in his state, losing to the candidate of APC. Sincerely speaking, Ribadu was the best governor Adamawa couldn’t have because of his party affiliation then (PDP), not because he lacks the basic qualities to govern the good people of Adamawa State. But as a true believer, Malam accepted the outcome of the elections in good faith and congratulated the then Governor Jibrila Bindow, knowing fully that power belongs to Allah alone, and He gives it to whosoever He wishes and at any time. This is something very rare to get from our politicians, but Ribadu stands out to be entirely different among today’s politicians.
In 2018, Malam was alongside eight individuals and organizations from Asia, America, Africa, Oceania, and Europe for their decisive role in curtailing the menace of corruption and corrupt practices. He together with former vice President of World Bank, Leonard Frank McCarthy, became the joint winners in the category of Anti corruption lifetime achievements
Indeed, Malam Nuhu Ribadu has received the ‘Game Changer’ award by ThisDay newspaper 2015 for initiating a series of no-nonsense measures as chairman of the EFCC and for giving individuals with questionable character a big chase. He is still the best in every capacity he occupied. His white garment of integrity still remained unblemished even after coming into contact with people of questionable characters.
Since 2010, Ribadu has been involved in active politics, and as one of the founding members of the APC, he played a key role that ensured the re-election of former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 general elections and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 2023. The retired Assistant inspector general of police has done a lot for Nigeria and the international community, and we can’t deny the fact that his quest to serve humanity has contributed immensely to the growth of our democracy to its present state.
Ribadu, the greatest anti-corruption Czar of Africa has indeed shone among stars, led among leaders and shown what it takes to be a great agent of change. At the moment, he is the most adorable and celebrated politician in Nigeria and is gaining aggressive popularity both home and abroad on daily basis. It’s my candid opinion that it will take a decade or more before any politician can compete with Malam in terms of popularity, acceptance and public goodwill.
The year 2012 saw Nuhu Ribadu accepted to head an inquest into government’s revenue from the oil sector under the administration of one of the most patient and tolerable President Nigeria ever had Dr Goodluck Jonathan, an assignment he handled with his characteristic passion and dexterity, turning in a report that has since become reference point on reforming the Nigeria’s oil industry.
He (Ribadu) is today, the current National Security Adviser to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a position he assumed in June this year and he’s doing an amazing job.
On the occasion of his 63rd birthday today being 21/11/2023, I join well-meaning Nigerians and the international community in wishing this exemplary leader all the good things that life can offer. May Allah (SWT) continue to shower him with more blessings, grace, good health, wisdom and knowledge to contribute more to the development of Adamawa State in particular, Nigeria, and the world at large. In sha Allah.
November 21st, 2023
NB: This article was written in November 2022 to celebrate the 62nd Birthday of the greatest anti-corruption Czar Africa has ever witnessed Mallam (Dr) Nuhu Ribadu and edited for the same purpose in November 2023 to celebrate his 63rd Birthday.
Muntaka Abdul-Hadi Dabo
African Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL)
National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)