Now that el-Rufai would want the world to believe something else about Yar’adua, is it that his name and credibility no longer mean anything to him or are readers simply to assume there was no name and integrity to put on the line in the first place? With el-Rufai’s background as a “super minister” in the Obasanjo administration, a wayward reputation that he flaunts without shame even in the self-promoting treatise which his agents have been hawking around media houses and the internet, one cannot but agree with respected columnist, Mohammed Haruna, that the former FCT minister’s analysis of the Yar’adua administration is mere sour grapes. Indeed, two of the issues el-Rufai raised would bear out this conclusion: He complained about the reversal of certain policies of the Obasanjo government; and the tempo of the war on corruption.
On the eve of its departure from office, the Obasanjo administration announced three controversial policies: upward review of price of petroleum products; mark up of the Value Added Tax from 5% to 10%; and the privatization of the Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries. These three policies attracted instant mass action from the people, with labour embarking on a nationwide strike. What was the new government that inherited this problem supposed to do? Obviously, the appropriate action is to lower tension by resolving the problem at the negotiating table with stakeholders. That was exactly what the Yar’Adua administration did. Of course there have been other less-than-tidy transactions like Ajaokuta, Transcorp etc that could not stand the test of public good and corrective measures had to be adopted.
Certainly the most absurd of El-Rufai’s claim is the assertion that the war against corruption was terminated with the exit of Nuhu Ribadu from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Unfortunately, he and his fellow travelers have so successfully sold this lie to an unwary public that otherwise respected bodies like Human Rights Watch now parrot the same line in their reports. Hear him: “Since the firing of Ribadu, all the case files on the so-called 31 governors have disappeared or declared non-existent …the cases already in court have been withdrawn, delayed or settled in what many consider dodgy plea-bargains…”
He also claimed that the Yar’adua administration had failed to deal with culprits of the high profile international scandals involving Siemens and Halliburton/KBR. This is vintage El-Rufai since he likes to turn facts on their heads to make his dubious point. Because Nigerians are well aware these were scandals that happened under the very nose of Ribadu who conveniently chose to look the other way for reasons that are now becoming quite clear!
Now to the issue of the former Governors which el-Rufai and Ribadu have been using to blackmail Yar’adua, let us examine the facts. Sometime in September 2006, Ribadu appeared before the Senate and reported that of the 36 state governors only five of them were not under investigation. Incidentally, a certain Governor Umaru Musa Yar’adua of Katsina State was one of the five then considered clean. Out of the 31 being investigated, Ribadu said he had concluded investigations on 21 and that he could not proceed to prosecution because of the immunity granted the suspects under the 1999 Constitution. It is of public record that none of these alleged 21 concluded cases was brought to court by Ribadu until October 2007, six clear months after the suspects had lost their immunity from prosecution. Even then only two of the said 21 cases were filed. And the two are still being prosecuted.
It is noteworthy that upon assumption of office in 2008, Ribadu’s successor, Mrs. Farida Waziri, discovered some irregularities, including lack of record of the case files that Ribadu said he had compiled. She did the logical thing by inviting her predecessor to come and locate the files or clarify the situation. Ribadu, however, filibustered. First, he claimed he was in school and could not leave his studies, next he went to court to restrain the commission from holding him to account for his claims in office.
We should even not worry too much about the penchant for subverting due process by these two former powerful men. Ribadu had in several public fora argued strenuously that his extra-legal methods were the only panacea for exterminating corruption. Although his point that the rule of law delays the day of justice for high profile criminals may be true, the benefit of hindsight has shown that his method was more in tune with the need to take advantage of genuine sentiment of the public against corruption to selectively deal with the political opponents of the government of the day.
What kind of corruption war was going on under Ribadu when people publicly denounced in a national television network broadcast as corrupt by President Obasanjo went on to become governors and senators despite the existence of Ribadu’s corruption watch list? Or does el-Rufai not remember that Chief Adolphus Wabara, then President of the Senate; Mr. Osita Izunaso and Mr. Gabriel Suswam of the House of Representatives were in that broadcast by Obasanjo denounced as bribe-for-budget lawmakers? Is Izunaso not in the Senate and Suswam governor of Benue State today?
There are many questions that are not being asked of Ribadu and el-Rufai who, to gain cheap attention, have suddenly allied themselves with members of the human rights community at home while serving the interest of foreign security agencies abroad.
Beli was News Manager, Radio Kano