In this interview, social activist, Adebowale Taiwo Jante, a founding member of Team Ribadu and National Coordinator, Concerned Citizens for Jonathan (CCJ), talks about Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and the gubernatorial race in Adamawa State.
1. What is your take on the current political goings-on in the country?
ATJ: It is a season of transition, a period where citizens decide who should be in charge of governance. It is an era of all manner of promises by politicians; a time to decide the future of the country via voting. It is important that we get it right. The next four years will determine whether the country will move forward or will be thrown back many decades.
2. How has it been working with Ribadu? Some people consider him a bit of a task master.
ATJ: I was privileged to work in the 2011 presidential campaign for Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as the office manager and a member of the National Strategy Group of a team known as Team Ribadu. It was a great opportunity for me considering the experiences acquired and the chance to work with young people like myself from across the country who are concerned about the future of our great nation. As a young man, am honored to have worked with someone I consider a future president of Nigerian. I see Nuhu Ribadu as a man that can positively affect two to three generations in one generational lifetime. He is a gentleman to the core, full of passion for his country.
Well, he’s a task master when it comes to doing the right thing at the right time. He is very hard working. He is someone I will say, will not go to bed without having a concrete idea of what to be done the next day. Ribadu is not a good person to work with if you are lazy.
3. Every aspirant has an agenda; what does Ribadu represent? When you think of him, what comes to your mind?
ATJ: Passion, Hope, Integrity, Good governance, (which is the bed rock for modern society). He represents the long awaited evolution which the good people of Adamawa State have been yearning for.
With Ribadu as the elected governor of Adamawa State, it will birth the dawning of a new era which will help Adamawa State take its pride of place in Nigeria. It will create opportunities for innovation and investment to thrive and an enabling environment for development.
4. What are your sentiments on the move to PDP by Ribadu? If you were in a similar circumstance would you have cross-carpeted?
ATJ: I have no sentiment. At every stage in one’s political career, a true leader must decide on which step to take, in order for him or her to realize his or her dreams. Being a former presidential candidate in an opposition party, and yielding to the call of his people to come and deliver them from accumulated hardship and insecurity that has engulfed the state, as a leader you have to decide which platform offers you’re the best opportunity to fulfill your dreams
5. Fractions of Ribadu’s followers were dissatisfied with his move to PDP- have they been reconciled and how does it affect his chances of winning in 2015?
ATJ: It has no effect on him winning the 2015 election. As true followers, when he joined the ACN/APC, we followed him because we know the stuff he is made of, and now that PDP is the right party for him for the actualization of these potentials, the wise thing to do is to support him knowing full well that irrespective of the political party, his (Ribadu) impeccable character and ability to deliver on good governance remains. Besides, his globally talked-about achievement as the former EFCC boss was under a PDP-led administration.
Let us not forget also, that there are people in their thousands who decamped to PDP from different parties because of Ribadu.
6. The switch to PDP, are there any lingering regrets? What would have been done differently if Ribadu was still with the APC?
ATJ: The primary objective is to serve your people to the best of your ability. Knowing how to take advantage of life opportunities without allowing the opportunities to take advantage of you is not something you regret.
7. Judging from his cross-carpeting from the All Progressives Congress to the People’s Democratic Party, how would you rate Ribadu and his intentions for Nigeria – Adamawa State to be specific?
ATJ: I can categorically tell you that Ribadu’s decision to join the PDP came after wide consultations with his immediate family, members of his extended family, political allies (both home and abroad), young and old. The Ribadu that I know would not have taken such step without deep thoughts and consultations. And from the look of things so far, that decision seems to down well with the people of Adamawa State.
8. Under the platform of the PDP, how would this campaign be different for Ribadu?
ATJ: Firstly, Ribadu is the only governorship candidate who has stirred hope for the possibility of a better Adamawa State.
Secondly, he has the best chance of winning the seat. And his achievements within the period of four years as the governor of Adamawa State would put him in good stead for the bigger national assignment.
9. Adamawa State being the hometown of former vice president Atiku Abubakar, is this a problem for Ribadu?
ATJ: We must not forget that Ribadu hails from a renowned political family (which cuts across the old Gongola to the present Adamawa and Taraba States).
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a highly respected, dogged nationalist who has invested so much in improving the living standard of Nigerians and the people of Adamawa State. He (Atiku) knows a visionary, disciplined and competent leader when he sees one.
10. Are you very involved in the Nuhu Ribadu campaign, if yes – how do you intend to go about ensuring his victory at the polls?
ATJ: He is someone I have loved with passion even before having the privilege of working with him. I will continue to pray for him, canvas for him, calling on all well-meaning Nigerians in Adamawa State to support him for the future of the state and Nigeria as a whole.
11. In politics there are no permanent friendships, only permanent interests. With that said, how has the turn of events affected the friendship between Ribadu and El-rufai? We know that they are both gubernatorial aspirants on opposing sides?
ATJ: You have said it all. I don’t see how political affiliations can separate them. This I believe will make their relationship stronger. Irrespective of their present political parties, they are two leaders with records.
12. The gentleman’s agreement entered into by Ribadu and President Jonathan as regards his gubernatorial aspirations with the promise of victory at the 2015 polls by Jonathan – how does this translate to victory.
ATJ: Well, the president has to run on his records. Of course, the presence of Ribadu and others like him in different states across the country will boost his re-election campaign.
13. On that note, what are the consequences of his move to the PDP on APC being that he was placed third at the 2011 presidential elections closely following Buhari.
ATJ: I think it has depleted the ranks of APC. So much has changed between 2011 and now. We all know what happened in 2011 and I think both the electorate and the politicians have learned a few lessons.
14. What are the implications of the partnership between Goodluck and Ribadu?
ATJ: It is a partnership that is meant to benefit each contestant. They are both members of the same political party and the expectation is that they will both support each other to the best of their abilities to achieve their objectives.
15. Ribadu an ally to Jonathan; what is the fate of the Adamawa residents in terms of insecurity, if Ribadu clichés the gubernatorial seat.
ATJ: I think Ribadu will bring a personal touch to the security situation in Adamawa State and will hopefully end the insurgency as quickly as possible. Remember he is a security expert. He retired from the Nigeria Police after many years of distinguished service as an AIG. I think he knows his onions as far as security is concerned. With his experience and the support of the federal government, insecurity in Adamawa State will be a thing of the past.
16. Ribadu was lauded for his achievements as the pioneer Executive Chairman of the EFCC, how would he rate EFCC under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration?
ATJ: The EFCC hasn’t changed much. Ribadu laid a very solid foundation. The current chair of the Commission was Ribadu’s deputy when he was in charge. So in a sense, there is continuity and enhancement of the work that Ribadu and his team did.
17. In what way does Ribadu think the media as a platform can help actualize his aspirations?
ATJ: Ribadu is a firm believer in the power of the media and he used it to full advantage during his presidential campaign four years ago. And he is making good use of it now. He is fully in tune with both traditional and new media. He has large followership on social media and makes effective use of that platform to connect with his teeming supporters and pass on his message.
18. Do you believe that Ribadu would still gun for the office of the president soon?
ATJ: I hope so. It is people like him that this country needs to take it to the next level.