Is America using Ribadu to destabilise Nigeria?

Nigeria in Trouble?Recently, Nuhu Ribadu – no doubt a patriot but disaffected and angry at Yar’Adua for ‘persecuting’ and exiling him – told the US Congress to fund Nigeria’s dissidents in so many words when he testified before the Feingold Committee that “we see a new leadership rising up, new people-oriented power centres being created. These are new phenomenon in Nigeria and they must be respected and nurtured. America can no longer take the attitude of keeping the lid on this boiling pot”.

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was right about the “boiling Pot” phenomenon currently sweeping through Nigeria. Why, there now appears to be one ‘popular demonstration’ per day in Nigeria that it seems Nigeria is entering a new era of mass activism. But should he have called on the US to nurture “these new phenomenon in Nigeria “goading America to romance anti-government forces”. What is his role in the current activism?

In just one week, The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), EnoughisEnough, IwuMustGo, Save Nigeria Group (SNG), among others has carried planned demonstrations against, ‘mis-governance, electoral reforms, the INEC Chairman among sundry issues.

The agitation by the SNG is particularly intriguing, the group succeeded in galvanising opposition against the pro-Yar’adua cabal not only in Abuja and Lagos but also in London, New York, Sydney, and other cities in Nigeria.

One can say that this groups efforts helped galvanise public opinion against the design of the first lady, Turai Yar’adua and her cohorts to hold on to the reins of power and let President Yar’adua rule by proxy.

Concerned Nigerians are investigating the role of external funding in sponsoring these demonstrations.

The announcement that the Federal Government is withdrawing the charges against the former EFCC Chairman Nuhu Ribadu paving the way for a role in the present administration and the haste with which the Senate confirmed AP Jonathan Goodluck’s Ministerial nominees compelled us a second look at a thesis submitted to for publication by Sullivan Odumegwu.

In ‘Nigeria 2010 – A Season of Foreign Interventionists and their Nigerian Collaborators’, written by Dr. Sullivan Odumegwu; Garba Mustapha; and James Osunbor1, pointed to the ease with which Acting President Jonathan Goodluck dissolved the Cabinet and the way Senator David Mark is being pressured to railroad the confirmation and wrote:.       

John Broder, a noted political scientist in the United States and an authority on American interferences in foreign countries, wrote that “Congress routinely appropriates tens of millions of dollars in covert and overt money to use in influencing domestic politics abroad”.

According to Broder’s research, which formed the basis for eliminating US interference in elections in Indo-China, The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), founded about 28 years ago “to do in the open what the CIA has done surreptitiously for decades, spends $30 million a year to support things like political parties, labor unions, dissident movements and the news media in dozens of countries”.

This appears to be the case with Nigeria at the moment, given the hundreds of millions being spent on media campaigns and public demonstrations by The Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC); certain elements of the opposition (some from inside PDP itself); and Civil Society organizations.

“Indeed, US strategists want to make “promoting democracy” through political intervention a key element of U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War era” – Faustian. “It is sad that America has trained her gun sights on Nigeria”, lamented DeVine.

“The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is well known to be associated and providing funding (plus American diplomatic and intelligence protection) to such groups as former Senator Ken Nnamani’s ‘Centre for Leadership and Development’. The former Senate President, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Mallam Nasir El Rufai are involved with the Good Governance Group.

Former Governor Tinubu’s CODER; and the many others masquerading as Civil Society are also said to be benefiting from America’s largesse.

This includes forging close associations with activists like Femi Falana, and lately making frantic efforts to infiltrate and split Nigeria’s ruling party from top to down”, says the writers quoting a “trusted ‘insider’ in Washington who has followed the unfolding events in the past one year”.

The backing of America and the Obasanjo/Ribadu/El Rufai configuration has earlier been suspected in the SNG.

An Insider told of a scheme which “the sum total of the forgoing is that we must continue to push for the declaration of the permanent incapacity of Yar’Adua so that Goodluck will be substantive President and will nominate a VP and put Yar’Adua totally behind us”.

“There are two other ways to achieve this”, a leak from the source stated, “impeachment and FEC (Federal Executive Council made up of the presidency and the ministers) resolution for a medical panel by the Senate. In my humble view, the impeachment option is not viable as it could take up to six months to conclude”.

The leak continued, “The most viable option – which process can be completed within weeks – is the FEC – Medical Panel –Permanent Incapacitation option. We must focus on that and remain resolute until success is achieved. This is through continuous pressure, naming and shaming the reluctant, self-centred Ministers, and emphasizing the reality of power – now with Goodluck and not Yar’Adua”. 

So far, the dictates of this group “continue to form the national and even international agenda as pressure continues to pile on Yar’Adua to either relinquish power or he should be forced to do so”. 

Broder’s research found that “those are among the more benign American efforts to intervene in the domestic politics of nations around the globe, activities that have been revealed in declassified documents, memoirs and records of congressional hearings”.

Commenting on Ribadu’s testimony before the US Congress, Singleton and DeVine agree that Ribadu’s calls (or goading, if you like) to the US Congress plays into the “first instinct of Americans to always romance anti-government forces in countries it hardly understands, ultimately getting burnt in the end. It happened in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America, and all the other places where they had to abandon ship and retreat back to America after screwing up things”.

And the “new leadership” being championed, as referenced in the Feingold late February Hearings, looks beyond acting President Jonathan because in the same Congressional testimony, former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Campbell ‘baited unrest in Nigeria’ by calling “Jonathan’s ascendency unconstitutional”.

For good measure, Campbell repeatedly mocked Jonathan by referring to what he called “the unconstitutional basis of his presidential authority”. Speaking further, Campbell said that “the National Assembly‘s unconstitutional designation of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as the acting president endangers Nigeria‘s fragile democratic development. And frantically looking to the Brits for intellectual succour, Campbell claimed that “Ridle Markus, Africa strategist at Absa Capital (London), noted in the Financial Times that, ―the National Assembly‘s motion (making Jonathan acting President) may not have any legal backing, which means…every decision Goodluck makes could potentially be declared unlawful”.

Our policy wonks who contributed to this essay insist that this statement is “meant to encourage two opposite, but complementary results, which are

–1)       To encourage the so-called loyalists of President Yar’Adua to either disobey Dr. Jonathan or openly challenge his authority (implosion from within); and

2)       To, at the same time, encourage Nigeria’s conniving activist lawyers and compliant segment of the judiciary to rule Jonathan out of authority (implosion from without).

Encouraging a well-meaning but inexperienced Jonathan to dissolve a Yar’Adua-appointed cabinet and then reappointing vast numbers of the same Ministers he dismissed (and then Yar’adua’s nephew) is suspected to be a political farce sure to cause instability in the system.

Even a strong Senator Mark has been pressured to railroad the confirmation of the Minsiters in Nigeria’s NASS. The confirmed Ministers are expected to be sworn in today.

When the Save Nigeria Group started, many Nigerians suspected the influence of external funding for the Group. And accusing fingers were pointed at the Obasanjo/Ribadu/El Rufai configuration.

In a statement, Balarabe Musa, one of the signatories and member of the Save Nigeria Group that later resigned said: “When the Save Nigeria Group came on board, I got to know from my own sources that the said group might have been formed by a faction of the PDP. That faction of the PDP, which seems to be supported by Nigerian exiles with some foreign influence, is being manipulated by Obasanjo in particular and the aim is to oppose Umaru Yar’Adua and support Jonathan as Acting President. And their reason is that Yar’Adua has allowed the EFCC to mess up in particular (Nasir) el-Rufai, (Nuhu) Ribadu and some governors who are Obasanjo’s boys. The support for Jonathan, for them, is not really genuine. Only to give Obasanjo the opportunity to manipulate the situation and control Jonathan. So, this is what we understand from the Save Nigeria Group. I think recent developments have proved it”

Last week, media accounts revealed that Jonathan had,  “through the office of the Attorney-General”, asked the Code of Conduct Tribunal to drop the criminal charges filed against Ribadu for his alleged failure to declare his assets before taking up his appointment as EFCC boss under the last Obasanjo regime.

Former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu said he is ready to return home after over a year in voluntary exile, and would be willing to serve under Acting President Goodluck Jonathan if asked.

The former Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir EL Rufai had also stated he would support Jonathan Goodluck for the presidency next year, Many believe he is being groomed to run with Goodluck as vice-president.

And going back to how it all began, DeVine reports that US embassy intelligence moles in Abuja intercepted reliable Intels on the Brigade of Guards twilight manoeuvres from the Kaduna and Abuja axis to receive Yar’Adua but failed to alert either Jonathan or Nigeria’s internal intelligence (including CDS AVM Paul Dike), even when it was clear to them that Jonathan neither ordered nor was made aware of the troop movements”.

Continuing, he added that “the stealthy nature of the troop movement to Nigeria’s Abuja airport was meant as a ‘mock coup’ against Jonathan, who is expected to get the clear warning that he does not, and cannot be allowed the control of Nigerian armed forces, even when the effect of the National Assembly resolution made him (Jonathan) the constitutional Commander-in-Chief. The non-disclosure of the troop movements serves as a pointer to the duplicitous politics America desires to play in the Yar’Adua/Jonathan impasse, as part of the grand plot to weaken them and show them out of power in 2011”.

Further evidence of this gathering plot to “pit Nigerians against one another” and ‘the Presidency against itself” is revealed by the “warning” recently issued to the so-called “Yar’Adua loyalists” by the US “not to capitalize on the return of the President to Nigeria to cause trouble for Jonathan”.

DeVine asks: “How can the US say such things when it was aware, via the ‘illegal’ airport troop manoeuvre to receive Yar’Adua, that ‘causing trouble’ for Jonathan was already underway but it failed to alert Jonathan?”.

According to Sullivan’s Group, sources close to the US State Department ‘Nigerian cell’ confirmed that these ‘dubious double-crossings’ are geared to

– 1)       Driving a wedge between Yar’Adua and Jonathan;

2)       Suborn North against South; North against itself

3)       Split the ruling party from its highest leadership levels; and

4)       Then, the disparate band of clueless activists and disarrayed opposition will be quickly amalgamated and primed to take the reins of power in 2011”.

They added that “a mortally fractured PDP of ‘Yar’Adua boys’ against ‘Jonathan boys’, Northerners against Southerners, will immediately make Nigeria easy prey to those plotting to take her prisoner, albeit by the hands of their Nigerian allies”.

Further evidence is to be found in the “serial approbations and reprobation’s that have been spewing simultaneously from Washington since Yar’Adua took ill”.

Therefore, this “gathering interventionism” is already looking beyond the acting Presidency of Jonathan, who is seen “privately” by these people as part of the ‘problem’, as the following details will show. Just recently (after the NASS resolution conferring presidential powers on Jonathan), Ambassador Campbell told the US Congress that “following failed efforts to amend the constitutionally-mandated term limits so that Obasanjo could run for a third term, the president imposed on the ruling party his own candidates, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, setting the stage for the current constitutional crisis”.

Africa, with Nigeria forming the pivotal point has lately come into play. And to prepare grounds for what is to come soon, US “non-officials are helping their official colleagues who succeeded them to carry on with their avowed but misguided notion of having the final say on who rules Nigeria next”.

It further found that “since the end of World War II, the United States, usually acting covertly through the CIA, has installed or toppled leaders on every continent, secretly supported political parties of close allies like Japan, fomented coups, spread false rumours, bribed political figures and spent countless billions of dollars to sway public opinion” in mostly third-world countries.

Such dirty tactics are already being advocated by “closet interventionists” like Campbell, who, last week, told the Congress that “Nigerian elites relish the opportunity to travel to the U.S. and to own property there. The power of the U.S. government to revoke visitors’ visas is particularly potent personal leverage with members of the Nigerian elites”.

The foregoing statement is said to represents part of a more sinister plan to “overawe ranking Nigerian leaders into submitting to the will of American idealists, seeking to reduce Nigeria from being the main player in the Gulf of Guinea to something akin to ‘the baby elephant’ of Africa”, as DeVine humorously put it.

A request to Mallam El Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu to comment on these scenario was not forthcoming, but according to Broder, “even those who support American efforts to influence the internal politics of other countries acknowledge that it has been carried to murderous extremes in the past and has to be carefully monitored”. Regime Change through elections (as is the case in the current ‘Nigerian plot’)

“With the end of the cold war, a lot of the justification for these activities has fallen away,” said Michael Beschloss, a historian who has written several volumes about U.S. policy in the Cold War era. “It’s always going to be a struggle between ends and means, but the burden of proof is now much greater. But when you’re a country in the custom of trying to influence other countries’ politics, it’s a habit that is very hard to break.”

A habit that is now manifesting itself in Nigeria because of “her sweet crude, vibrant population, less than patriotic (or clueless) activists, weak foreign ministry and the financial interest of pesky ex-intelligence agents desperately  looking for new and easy incomes in an era of a meltdown that wiped out their savings and stocks”.

Africa, with Nigeria forming the pivotal point has lately come into play. And to prepare grounds for what is to come soon, US “non-officials are helping their official colleagues who succeeded them to carry on with their avowed but misguided notion of having the final say on who rules Nigeria next”.

But will Nigerian Politicians stand by and allow that to happen?

Already, some groups in EFCC, some ex-governors and influential politicians have declared war on Nuhu Ribadu over the decision to make Ribadu, a long time ally of Goodluck Jonathan, the leader of the anti-corruption campaign of the Acting President.

Moreover, a scheme has been finalised to bring the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar back to the fold of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to challenge Goodluck Jonathan, if he eventually decides to run. Atiku is expected to run with an influential Politician from the Niger Delta who is also an ex-governor of one of the states in the region.

While in the opposition party, Former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu has teamed up with ex-dictator and former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari. Both are expected to contest in the 2011 Presidential elections.

For many observers, expectant times lie ahead. The evil to be exorcised at the moment is the current Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mr Maurice Iwu. Hundreds of Nigerians protested last week outside INEC headquarters in the capital, Abuja, demanding the removal of Iwu, whom they deemed responsible for the 2007 polls that brought President Umaru Yar’Adua to power.

But the battle to get Prof. Maurice Iwu out of his chief electoral umpire’s job has been taken to America where a senior United States official backing the call for him to go.

Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, the Obama administration’s top official for Africa, said Independent National Election Commission (INEC) chairman Iwu had proven himself inadequate in overseeing Nigeria’s “deeply flawed” polls in 2007.

“If Nigeria is to move forward, improving its election process, it probably needs to consider improving the level of management at the top,” Carson told a news briefing.

Carson signalled that Washington hoped to see change at INEC at least by the time Iwu’s current term ends in mid-2011.

“We hope that when it comes time to look at reappointment or the decision to appoint someone else, that his past record be taken into account,” Carson said.