MALLAM NUHU RIBADU: The man I heard and read about and the man I finally met

By Dr. John Luka Njiling

Like most Nigerians, I first got acquainted with MALLAM NUHU RIBADU from the Television screen, back then in 2003, I was a student in the University, one evening while watching NTA NEWS, when a man adorned in white Babban riga or gare as we know it, also called Agbada in southern part of Nigeria. He appeared on the screen then someone next to me immediately snapped, “this man is handling the most dangerous work in the Country” he doesn’t sleep in the same house twice the guy quickly added. Because he smokes out hardened criminals from their hiding caves. My friend continued, this man could escape three assassination everyday. I kept wondering what kind of work could this be? The name MALLAM NUHU RIBADU Became a household Name in the country, a name Synonymous to crime fight, no wonder, the story of EFCC can only be told when Nuhu Ribadu is involved.

My next impression of MALLAM RIBADU came about when I stumbled over a book written by RIBADU’S friend. THE ACCIDENTAL PUBLIC SERVANT. It is from the book I knew the details of how MALLAM RIBADU, transformed a piece of paper (an appointment letter) without office or staff and with zero allocation, into such an internationally celebrated institution; THE EFCC.

Another time I read yet added rendition of the Man MALLAM NUHU RIBADU was through another man Adewale an international journalist who titled his book “THE PARADISE OF MAGGOTS”. Here I came to know the vivid details of how MALLAM NUHU RIBADU was formed from Youth to adulthood. in an institution famed for corruption, malpractice and illegality. Even though it is supposed to be the foremost law enforcement Agency but somehow miraculously escaping the claws of the monster called CORRUPTION. How he will always insist on due process of law to be adhered to. How he always saw things from the PRISM OF law. Which earned him a special standing in the eyes of reputable senior lawyers across the country. Notably MR FALANA, the Human rights lawyer, who will later suggest RIBADU’S NAME TO KANU AGABI the then Attorney General of the federation. FOR THE EFCC JOB.

For years, after my first encounter with MALLAM NUHU RIBADU From the screen, it has remained thus. It’s either a book or talk show or campaign podium. Sometimes on the morning programs on local or national stations, telling same story of courage, incorruptible, daring, and speaking fearlessly to the powers that make things happen or impede it. Nothing like a real time action with normal human beings.

That opportunity came along one evening while hanging out with a friend in Abuja, who came into the city from YOLA. My friend told me to come with him to see MALLAM NUHU RIBADU. I immediately jumped at the chance to meet the man that was almost responsible for the great economic boom recorded in the country between 2003 – 2007. Because of his activities as the EFCC BOSS by arresting and prosecuting 419 kings who defrauded banks across the globe but remained untouched in Nigeria. Even though their victims and colleagues alike are long sentenced to prison. Made international financial institutions to delist Nigeria from its black list. Enabling direct foreign investment pour in like flood in those years into the economy.

Usually when one encounters such a Man with a dream land achievement, a higher degree from Oxford and Cambridge, with Global acclamation, one will expect to meet someone wallowing in the air of self importance. But that was not the case with MALLAM RIBADU. It was fasting period so he insisted we break the fast with him knowing well we are not Muslims. We were hosted to a dinner with his family, I believe MALLAM NUHU RIBADU will host even Bill Clinton in the dining area he hosted us that evening. He shoved aside any attempt to remind him of those years of exploits in his service years. His simplicity was the first thing that stroke me first hand.

One thing that any first timer with MALLAM will immediately notice is his personal recognition of the importance of every human being regardless of class or level of education. He does not wear his achievement in life like badge of honor, so as to dwarf anyone he comes by.

That air of false superiority in which most Nigerian elites and aristocrats bask, is far removed from NUHU RIBADU. That is the picture of the man i met that evening in the company of my friend.

He prefers obviously to discuss current events and how we all can be instrumental in improving the situation instead of singing his praise as the world renowned ANTI CORRUPTION Champion…..

When I subsequently visited, it was like a place I was used to, immediate integration took place and anytime I came by, it was a familiar ground.

One day I was kept out side the gate until MALLAM RIBADU came and met me standing, he reprimanded his security for keeping a doctor, standing outside the gate. The combination of his domestic staff tells anyone that NUHU RIBADU is a universal personality with no tinge of bias based upon creed or descent. He is an engaging personality who does not mind sharing opinion with people around. He does not make excuses for either the government of the day or the past administration he strongly believes that with better application of knowledge and prudent disbursement of resources we can overcome our National and local challenges.

He listens with interest to folks who volunteer information, he is not the type that poses with I know it all kind of an attitude, but recognizes the place for human dignity and self importance so he accords such privilege to everyone that’s around him. One other thing I noticed from my interactions with NUHU is that he knows and of course understands that everyone deserves to be heard and so creates that type of ambiance for all to have the right to freely express one’s opinion which he readily dispenses with a religious obedience.

One day I came visiting and it was threatening to rain while he was on a long phone call. It was going to rain heavily so I decided to start going home, when he noticed I was going, he cut his call and ran after me profusely apologized for keeping me waiting and accompanied me right to his gate to the consternation of his security team at the gate who normally make it a bit tight at that point. He steals a private moment even in the midst of many people, to lean towards you and ask ” doctor Yaya gari?? He appears to be interested in the well being of all around him no matter who they are. In All my meetings with MALLAM NUHU RIBADU, it does not appear to me that he lives in that IVORY TOWER OF THE HAVES and others down there who are the have nots. I have a distant impression that in the years of his search for knowledge and wide reading, he must have read from the Bible the book of GALATIANS CHAPTER 3 AND VERSE 28…..where it reads ” there’s no Jew or Gentile, Slave or free male or female. For You are all one in CHRIST JESUS.

That is the MALLAM RIBADU whom I heard, read about and who I finally met. I hope to meet him again to share ideas about how we can make the world a little kinder a little better……….

DR JOHN LUKA NJILING writes from Yola, ADAMAWA STATE.

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