Nuhu Ribadu, Tofa Declare Presidential Bid

Former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC), Mallam Nuhu Ribabu, has finally confirmed his intention to contest in the 2011 presidential election, saying he wants to “remake” Nigeria.

He also dismissed the long-held belief that the EFCC investigated the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, for money laundering.

Today, the presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in the June 12, 1993 election, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, will launch his presidential bid on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP),

And in a novel gesture to woo support for his aspiration, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar yesterday wrote letters to over 3,400 statutory delegates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including President Goodluck Jonathan, urging them to give him their votes in the party’s primary election.

Ribadu promised that Nigeria would become a new country within two years if he is elected. Although, Ribadu said he was yet to decide on which platform he would run, he passionately said he had a dream for a new Nigeria. He said he wants to see a “new thing, a fresh thing” and build a nation out of the country.

The former anti-corruption Czar made these known when he met with journalists in Abuja yesterday, promising a formal declaration later.

“I have a dream of a new Nigeria, a changed Nigeria; I want to see if there is a possibility of opening a new chapter and those who are in charge somehow certainly need to give chance for the country to move forward,” he said.

His areas of priority, he said, would be security, fighting corruption, providing electricity, improving education, building hospitals and helping Nigeria become an industrialised nation.

Giving reasons why he is running at the federal level in spite of his little or no experience in politics, Ribadu said: “I have experience in public service. I put 25 years of my life into service to the Federal Government of Nigeria in the executive capacity. After that, of course, I served outside Nigeria, I worked and have acquired international experience.

“I had the chance to set up an agency and ran it for five years and I was in the economic team as well as a federal prosecutor, probably more than any other person in that capacity. I was a police officer, a public worker, I put all my life to service in the federal level and it is really natural for you to put all of that into where the experience best fits, yes I will contest for the presidency.”

Asked how he intends to fund his campaign, he explained that contributions from ordinary Nigerians would be used by his team.

Ribadu also denied allegations that he mishandled a corruption case against Dame Patience, when her husband, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was governor of Bayelsa State.

He said that it was propaganda to taint his image and that of Jonathan during the 2007 polls.

Ribadu explained that the EFCC never handled any case against Patience. “The case had to do with a lady and a man who lodged huge sums of money in the bank. The EFCC was alerted by the bank and an investigation was carried out,” he said.

According to him, it was found that they legitimately earned the money through contracts executed in the state. All the reports in the media were lies, he insisted.

“For instance, it was initially reported that N70 million was lodged into the bank. Later, it was reported that the money ran into millions of dollars. Such was the extent of the lies,” he said, maintaining: “We never handled a case against Patience Jonathan.”

Meanwhile, Tofa is set to declare his presidential ambition on the platform of ANPP today in Abuja.

The declaration which is billed to take place at Chelsea Hotel is expected to hold in the evening

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday nullified the positions of the two factions of the ANPP who have been fighting over the control of the party.

INEC, in a letter dated 15th September, 2010 and addressed to the Chairman of the convention committee, said the resolutions of the two factions of the party which took place on the 27th August and 2nd September, 2010 respectively were not supported by any provision in the constitution of the ANPP nor the Electoral Act as amended in 2010.

The commission said the two transition committees set up by both factions remained null and void, maintaining that it would deal strictly with the National Convention Planning Committee “until a new National Executive Committee is validly constituted”.

At a press conference to harmonise the positions of the two factions, Chairman of the convention committee and Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam, stated that both warring factions have all agreed to work together for the interest of the party.

He added that the suspension of the Sen. Muhammed Muhammed-led faction taken by the former National Chairman of the party, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, has been set aside, saying that they are now welcome back as bona fide members of the party.

Though INEC’s letter did not state categorically which of the convention committees it would recognise, the governor while presenting the position of the commission adopted the convention committee set by the Ume-Ezeoke’s faction with Chris Amah as the Secretary.

Meanwhile, Gaidam’s committee tentatively shifted the day of the convention by one day.

THISDAY checks revealed that the shift in the date from September 17-18 to 18-19 may not be unconnected with the decision of President Jonathan to declare tomorrow at the Eagle Square, the same venue ANPP intended to use for its national convention.

The meeting was attended by Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, Senator Kabir Gaya, Alhaji Gambo Maigaji, former Governors, John Odigie Oyegun, Audu Abubakar and Ahmed Yerima. Also in attendance were Prince Ebuta Ayuk, former Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, Hassan Hadeja, former Minister of State, Defence, Alhaji Abdulrahman Adamu among others. Presidential candidate of the party and Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, was absent at the meeting.

In the meantime, among those expected to receive Atiku’s letters are Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark and Speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole.

Other recipients of the letter include governors, deputy governors, senators, members of the House of Representatives, state Houses of Assembly, local government council chairmen, PDP chairmen in the Local government councils and PDP state executive officers.

This is in line with the statutory delegate list published by THISDAY newspaper in the last four weeks, which was confirmed by the guidelines released by the PDP on Wednesday.

THISDAY calculates that there would be 3,400 delegates but the PDP is yet to come up with the official list which is not expected to be significantly different.

In the letter, Atiku said that delegates hold the key to the realisation of his vision of a prosperous, secure, peaceful, democratic, caring and confident Nigeria.

“I am seeking the presidency of our great country to chart a new course for our beloved country and lead our people to their manifest destiny,” Atiku wrote.

“We need to create millions of jobs to keep our youth gainfully employed and help to tackle the high level of insecurity in the country. We must invest in education, research and modern technology, and infrastructure so that our productivity can increase significantly. We have to improve on our healthcare delivery so that our people will no longer die needlessly.

“With your support, we will put in place attractive incentives for people to invest in our economy and create well-paying jobs. We will fix our crumbling schools, roads, and hospitals. We will fix the electricity problem by taking advantage of the varying energy resources and needs in different parts of the country.

“We will address desertification, gully erosion and other lingering environmental challenges. We will wage a genuine war on corruption by instituting a better reward and punishment system, ensuring true independence of the anti-corruption agencies and the speedy trial of corruption cases.

“This is the time for an experienced, committed and visionary leader to rescue our country from imminent collapse. I am ready to lead. Together, we can make good things happen for our people and our country,” he said.