Why I accepted to chair petroleum task force —Ribadu
The Presidential Candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria in the 2011 elections, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, on Wednesday described his appointment as head of the 21-member Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force as a call to national duty.
Ribadu in a statement e-mailed to our correspondent said his acceptance of the appointment was personal and devoid of political affiliation.
But the ACN has said that the appointment was deceptive and that it could not “in good conscience” work with the Jonathan administration because it had demonstrated that it could not be trusted.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that Ribadu was on his own. The statement also reiterated the party’s position barring its members from accepting appointments from the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government.
While Ribadu was the ACN candidate in the 2011 presidential poll, he lost in five out of the six states where the party is in control of government. Jonathan of the PDP won in the other ACN states.
The pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said in accepting the new job, he went back to the philosophy of his parents that an honest public service was the greatest asset a person could offer his community.
He said, “It is all about the community, and it is sometimes bigger than our personal egos. This therefore is a national call. In answering it, I go back to the template of my own parents, who taught me that an honest public service is the greatest asset a person can offer his community.
“Regardless of our affiliations, our differences, and our engagements, it is at least safe to say that we have a national consensus, on the deadly impact of corruption on the march to greatness, and on the capacity of our people, particularly the youth, to earn a decent, promising life.”
According to Ribadu, Nigerians must see corruption as a prominent national security threat.
The former EFCC boss said, “We must see it as a war within our borders, a war that has assumed a systemic and endemic character, but to which all must now urgently enlist with our different capacities, or accept to all go down with the ship.”
He stated that it was appropriate for him to serve the country, having offered similar services to many foreign nations, including Afghanistan.
Ribadu said, “This, if nothing, makes my decision very personal, freeing all affiliations (social and political) of complicity, but investing the decision also with the unique character that when people reach an evaluation in favour of their larger communities, it doesn’t necessarily blemish their moral identity.”
But the ACN said it could not “in good conscience” work with the Jonathan administration because it had demonstrated that it could not be trusted.
The party said, “On the vexed issue of removal of petroleum subsidy, it is on record that our party, the Action Congress of Nigeria, responded with patriotic and constructive suggestions during a meeting with the President in Abuja.
“At the end of that meeting, President Jonathan promised to further consult with us before taking any further step in respect of the matter. True to the deceptive nature of this administration, we all woke up on January 1, 2012, to learn that the government has unilaterally removed subsidy from petrol.
“How can we be sure that these slew of appointments are not being used by the administration to shore up its sagging – or totally sagged – credibility?
“After all, one can never be sure going by the deceptive nature of the PDP that the kind of appointment now being offered to Mallam Ribadu is being made in good faith or just to get credible people to launder the government’s badly damaged image and credibility.
‘’There is also the possibility that booby-traps will be deliberately set for such credible personalities to guarantee their failure in their stated assignment, after which they will be ridiculed and dumped like an ordinary chump.”
Another opposition party, the Congress for Progressive Change, said that it was not excited by the setting up of the petroleum revenue task force.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said, “We wish Ribadu well. We also hope that the appointment came with sincerity on the part of the Federal Government.
“Ribadu was able to achieve what he did while in the EFCC because of the support he got from the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
“If he thinks he can achieve that under the present dispensation, well, he should think twice. But we pray that he won’t be disappointed at the end of the day.”
Meanwhile, a group known as Human Rights Writers Association on Wednesday said the task force to be headed by Ribadu was illegal and “a total affront to the principle of the rule of law.”
Executive Director of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said in a statement that the formation of the task force was “a surreptitious attempt by the Federal Government to usurp the constitutional functions of the widely respected Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative enshrined in the NEITI Act of 2007.”