Presidential aspirant and former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission boss Nuhu Ribadu has begun his campaign with a promise that no one will be safe from prosecution under his regime including members of his opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Mr. Ribadu promises to fight corruption and prosecute everyone and anyone under the law if he is elected Nigerian president come 2011. But despite the clout of transparency Mr. Ribadu commands many Nigerians are disturbed over his choice of party.
Some observers believe his good-intentions may be caught up should he find himself spending questionable funds of his opposition Action Congress of Nigeria party, or that his patrons might one day expect his protection from lawsuits.
But Mr. Ribadu has rebutted these fears. “Whoever has anything to answer; he will certainly never get protection from Nuhu Ribadu. I have never done it in all my life,” he was quoted by the BBC.
Mr. Ribadu commands respect and credibility across Nigeria for prosecuting several high-profile politicians during his time as the head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
But his detractors insist he only targeted rivals of then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mr. Ribadu who was removed from his position in 2007, embarked on a self-exile claiming attempts had been made on his life. He returned from exile in June and would contest for the office of President.
In spite of his clout of transparency Mr. Ribadu, who is also a northern Muslim, may have to face strong challengers including, incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, former presidential security advisor Aliyu Gusau, former military leader Gen Ibrahim Babangida, ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Kwara state governor Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
And although the elections set for January may be delayed after the Nigerian electoral commission called for a postponement saying it needed more time to compile a complete voter register list to be used for the elections, Mr. Ribadu remains convinced that Nigeria’s elections can be free and fair.
With a history of widespread violence, fraud and voter intimidation, a new electoral register and electronic voting machines are being introduced. Nonetheless, observers say the difficulties facing reformers are severe, and are doubtful whether a grace period of a few months will deliver free and fair polls.