Friday, 23 April 2010

Article: Nuhu Ribadu For President 2011

                                  [Nuhu Ribadu]

(“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.)

Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) has issued a challenge to Nigerian youth. Let’s rise to the occasion and tell him that “Yes We Can”. The first thing that came to my mind immediately IBB announced his plans to run for the 2011 presidential election was not how to stop him, but who to stop him. In the last few days, we have seen IBB’s surrogates and even some sincere and patriotic Nigerians raise the issue: IBB is a Nigerian citizen and therefore has the right to aspire to the highest office in the land; and if you don’t like the way that sounds, then you should provide an alternative. Others have pointedly asked the question: If not IBB, then who?

Let it not be said that when the question of an alternative to IBB was raised, the youth of Nigeria had no answer. I therefore, without any reservations or equivocation, put forward to Nigerians, Nuhu Ribadu, a young, passionate, courageous, dynamic, detribalized, and committed Nigerian. The prospect of a Nuhu Ribadu presidency fascinates me and reminds me of 1993 when Chief M.K.O Abiola ran for the presidency. Abiola, like Ribadu, had the charisma, international respect and clout, and nation-wide acceptance; like Ribadu, M.K.O. was not provincial; he certainly, like Ribadu, was not a fundamentalist. Unfortunately, Chief Abiola’s victory was truncated by IBB, who now seeks to win our votes and become president for a third time (having ruled as president from 1985 to 1993). We can’t let IBB truncate our hopes and aspirations a second time.

This is a battle for the heart and soul of Nigeria. On this issue, we can’t afford to be Internet warriors. It is great to blog, twit and update our Facebook with Ribadu for President 2011, but this battle has to be won ultimately in our streets, villages and hamlets from Aba to Zungeru, from Badagry to Yola, from Calabar to Sokoto. So let us go out and mobilize. As my comrade, the great pan-Africanist, Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, used to say, “Let’s organise; not agonise”. We need to save Nigeria; if not, by the time the likes of IBB are done with us, we won’t have a country to call our own.

Please don’t undermine this movement. There will be time for criticism; now is the time for mobilization. For those who disagree with this proposition, please do the next best thing: start a campaign for your own candidate if you think you can’t stand as a candidate. As Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, said recently, “What is wrong with identifying your candidates urgently and beginning to mobilize support for them...why can’t you invade your homeland...use your mobile telephones now to mobilize people and guard democracy the way Barack Obama used the Internet technology to mobilize the youths and to strengthen democracy”.

No doubt, it is important that we stop the likes of IBB, but we should spend more time and energy in promoting our candidates, for as Simon Kolawole wrote in Thisday of Sunday, April 18, 2010, what IBB seeks is relevance. “Anytime there is a presidential race, IBB always manages to become a topic of discussion. He loves it. He wants to be the main issue in our politics until he draws his last breath”.

We simply can’t afford the IBB distraction. Let us not make IBB the issue in the 2011 presidential election. So instead of printing one million posters or stickers saying “No to IBB”, thereby placing him unduly in the public consciousness, we can put that resource in advancing Nuhu Ribadu for President 2011. Let our brothers and sisters in Nollywood and PMAN come up with brilliant ideas to sell the Ribadu for President 2011 idea to the Nigerian masses as their counterparts in Hollywood did during the Obama election.

Whether you are a banker, lawyer, doctor, journalist, engineer, nurse, civil servant, imam, pastor, unemployed, military personnel, artiste, actor, actress, or student, our major preoccupation should be how make this movement bigger every day. Let’s us make it our personal project for the next one year. While we go out every morning in the quest for bread and butter, in search of how to pay our house rent, school fees for our children, and sundry bills, we should dedicate a few minutes daily until May 29, 2011 to support this cause. Let us all sacrifice a little!

If you can produce T-shirts and distribute to young people in your neighbourhood, please do. If you can print stickers and posters, please do; if it is wrist bands that you would like to produce, you are welcome to do that; and if you are not in a position to produce anything, talk to neighbours, convince them on why they must join the movement; blog and twit about it; keep your Facebook status on Nuhu “Obama” Ribadu” for President 2011. We need to take ownership of this process.

Let those in the Diaspora join the campaign, from Accra to Cape town; from New York to Toronto. Let it be heard in the furthest part of the world that after 50 years of independence, Nigerians are ready and willing to reclaim their motherland.

This is the time for organizations that have mass follower ship and can influence public opinion like Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Trade Union Congress (TUC) Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), national newspapers, to come out and endorse candidates for 2011. That is how it is done in other parts of the world; that is the only way we can build and sustain our democracy and have the government and leadership we desire. Election is less than a year away.

There should be no procrastination. Let’s start mobilizing for Nuhu Ribadu, our great hope for a better Nigeria, a better Africa.

Nuhu Ribadu for President, 2011. The slogan is Change has come to Nigeria! Nuhu Ribadu for President, 2011, Yes, I Believe! Together, we can make a difference.

I offer a list of possible candidates for the vice-presidential position (not in order of preference or importance).

1. Prof. Pat Utomi
2. Ledum Mitte
3 .Olisa Agbakoba
4. Gov. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State
5 .Gov. Chibike Amechi of Rivers State
6. Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State
7. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (MD of the World Bank)
8. Dr. Oby Ezekwesili (VP, Africa, World Bank)
9. Femi Falana
10. Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra State
11. Gov. Sullivan Chime of Enugu State
12. Hon. Uche Onyeaguocha
13. Dr. Kayode Fayemi
14. Hafsat Abiola-Castello
15. Senator Ken Nnamani
16. Senator Chris Anyanwu
17. Hon. Dino Melaye
18. Comrade Peter Esele
19. Prof. Bolaji Aluko
20. Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora
21. Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa
22. Ayo Obe
23 .Diezani Allison-Madueke
24..Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin
25. Gov. Donald Duke (former Governor of Cross River State)

By Anthony Fernandez