Monday, August 18, 2014

Former Anti-Corruption Chief Nuhu Ribadu defects to ruling party PDP

Nuhu Ribadu, a former Nigerian anti-corruption chief and opposition presidential candidate, defected to the ruling People’s Democratic Party from the All Progressive Congress, its main challenger.

Ribadu registered at the Bako ward of northeastern Adamawa state capital Yola on Aug. 16, Hamidu Aji, the local chairman of the ruling party, known as PDP, said today by phone. “Ribadu was issued a PDP membership card,” he said.

A former head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ribadu, 53, ran and lost to President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 as the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria. The party later merged with the Congress for Progressive Change, led by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, and other smaller parties to form APC.

“Clearly, no party wants to lose anybody,” Lai Mohammed, spokesman for the APC, as the opposition is known, said today in a telephone interview from Lagos, the commercial capital. “But I can assure you the party is stronger than individuals.”

As head of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency from 2003 to 2007, Ribadu established a reputation for taking the fight against graft even to those with political influence. He was fired by late President Umaru Yar’Adua and he fled into exile in 2008, returning to the country after Jonathan took office two years later.

While Ribadu has worked with the Jonathan administration since his return from exile, he’s criticized the government for failing to tackle corruption. He said in April that Jonathan’s pardon of his former boss, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the ex-governor of the oil-rich Bayelsa state, on graft and money laundering charges “makes a joke of all the war against corruption.”

Ribadu’s defection to the PDP, as the ruling party is also known, is “a blow to the opposition on multiple fronts” Philippe de Pontet, Africa director at New York-based Eurasia Group, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “It is a setback for the APC’s self-promoted brand as a true alternative to the ruling party,” he said.


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