He also said hurdles were placed on his way to fight corruption when he was appointed as the pioneer chairman of the anti-graft agency.
Ribadu, who spoke at a mentoring session with corps members in Abuja, likened Nigeria to a man “who sows maize grains yet expects to reap mango fruits.”
He said, “Our trouble in this country is principally the collapse of our institutions. Our potential is lost in our civic decadence, which stares us in the face wherever we go. We see the decadence in the eyes of the policeman flipping through our particulars; we see the decadence in the eyes of the university registrar demanding bribes to grant or facilitate admissions; we see the decadence in the eyes of every citizen who has lost hope in Nigeria.”
Ribadu, who said he rejected offers from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Afribank, Corporate Affairs Commission, United Bank for Africa and a big family business to pick-up a career in the police, maintained that he had no regrets for his actions as the EFCC boss.
He advised the corps members to be the change agents the country needed.
Ribadu said, “To inspire change you must become something different; do something worthy of emulation, something whose memory even comforts you no matter what.”
“My appointment as chairman of the EFCC, for instance, was to a turbulent task. I had to follow the statements of my previously written will to serve in a country where, there is a lack of functional institutions to check mismanagement of public funds and related criminal misconduct. Trust in public institutions had been demolished and perpetrators went about wearing their crimes like badges of honour.
“I was given an appointment to stand in the way of these celebrated fraudsters, without an office and funds to launch my operations. But we went on to form what became a prime anti-corruption body in the country. Our activities are left for history and honest critics of political evolution to gauge and tell of our impact.”
Speaking on the theme of the lecture, “Nigeria: A Generation’s Quest for Home,” the former presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, said, “What Nigeria needs to realise its potential is, unfortunately, not mere change of leadership.”
“We don’t need anyone from outer space to come organise our polity. What we need are ourselves–our virtues and belief in a collective struggle for good governance.
“What we need are functional institutions; we need institutions that pander to the principle of honesty, that socialise successions of citizens who will extol this principle. We need leaders for whom the sufferings of the masses are immediate concerns, not jokers that insult the yearnings and honest observations of the electorate.”