Return of Ribadu Signals Serious Battle against Corruption

Article excerpt

President Goodluck Jonathan's determination to carry out much-needed reforms, even in the teeth of criticism from some quarters, was demonstrated when he brought back the country's most feared anti-corruption champion, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, as head of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, a body charged with instilling probity and accountability in the Nigerian oil and gas sector of the economy. This is a very significant appointment as it goes to the heart of perhaps Nigeria's most intractable barriers to greater investment - corruption. Frederick Mordi has the details.

MALLAM NUHU RlBADU WAS THE BUG-bear of corrupt government officials while he was pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). His name alone sent cold shivers down the spine of those who were deemed to have misappropriated public funds.

Under his watch, which lasted between 2003 and 2007, prominent Nigerians including top politicians and bankers, who ran foul of the law, were made to face the music. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements was the delisting of Nigeria from the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) List of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories. FATF is an inter-governmental body that develops and promotes national and international policies to combat money laundering. This further bolstered Ribadu's reputation as the anti-corruption czar.

Even though he was later caught up in a web of intrigues, allegedly orchestrated by those on whose toes he had inadvertently stepped during his anti-corruption crusade, which led to his removal as EFCC boss, his almost larger-than-life stature did not diminish.

He left the country for the United Kingdom in 2009, on a fellowship, but returned to contest the 2011 general elections as presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), one of the leading opposition parties, following overtures made to him by incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

Shortly after the election, which Jonathan eventually won, Ribadu was named part of a six-man international monitoring team set up by the UN under the Afghanistan Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, to carry out a governance audit of that country, which is ranked the third most-corrupt in the world. The committee was given the mandate of exploring ways of reducing corruption in Afghanistan. It was while he was on this international assignment that the Nigerian government approached him about a new job.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The government must have taken these credentials into consideration when it gave Ribadu another opportunity to serve the country as head of a 21-member taskforce to sanitise the corruption-ridden oil and gas industry. However, the appointment was received with mixed feelings. While many Nigerians, who view Ribadu as a round peg in a round hole, have hailed his comeback, others have faulted the government's gesture, which they say is designed to score cheap political points. …