The Buhari Campaign Organisation, BCO, has come down heavily on Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for disputing President Muhammadu Buhari’s view that the Nigerian democratic system allows corruption to thrive because it is inherently slow unlike military rule. In a detailed statement by Festus Keyamo, BCO’s Director of Strategic Communications, the President’s campaign asserted that, “If the system was working, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would have been prosecuted and jailed for various acts of corruption and abuse of office after he left office as Vice President …”
Speaking to a delegation of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, community that visited him in Aso Rock Villa on Christmas Day, Mr. Buhari had said: “I told you what I did when I was in uniform. But now when I have to go by this system (democracy), where people have to be arrested and then prosecuted, taken to court and then with evidence, we will collect back what they had taken illegally.
“For doing that, people are calling me Baba Go Slow. I am going slowly, but whatever the case, I will not stop pointing fingers at those who have abused trust by taking money that does not belong to them.
“Fighting corruption. Yes, we are slow because the system is slow. It is not Baba that is slow, but it is the system. So, I am going by this system and I hope we will make it.”
However, in a swift reaction to the President’s comments, Mr. Atiku strongly rejected Buhari’s view of the problems militating against the federal government’s anti-corruption fight. In a personal statement, the former Vice President noted that President Buhari is the problem, not the system. According to Atiku, “I was Vice President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 and we used that same system to speedily convict no less a personality than an Inspector General of Police, and several others including cabinet ministers and other high officials. Mr. President, the problem with your anti-corruption war is not the system. You are the problem!”
Miffed by Atiku’s swipe at the President, the BCO through the office of Keyamo, a respected human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, countered Atiku in a press statement now trending on social media. The full statement is as follows:
PRESS RELEASE BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI CAMPAIGN ORGANIZATION
IF THE SYSTEM WERE TO BE WORKING BEFORE PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI TOOK OVER IN 2015, ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR WOULD BE IN JAIL BY NOW INSTEAD OF CONTESTING FOR THE PRESIDENCY.
Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to the Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar disputing the assertion by President Muhammadu Buhari that the system in Nigeria allows corruption to thrive because the system is slow in tackling corruption. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar further blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for perceived failure in addressing some instances of ‘corrupt practices’ under his watch.
Let us remind Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that he is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the failed system in tackling corruption that was in place before President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015. We know he is aware of this, hence his latest diatribe against President Muhammadu Buhari amounts to nothing but disgusting grandstanding and an attempt to mock the system.
If the system in Nigeria was indeed working, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would not have acquired substantial shares in INTELS in clear conflict of his duties as a Customs Officer whilst in office. Those shares would have belonged to the Nigerian people by now.
If the system in Nigeria was indeed working, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would not have run a monopolistic company called INTELS all these years, ripping off the Nigerian people and the Nigerian State before Muhammadu Buhari came and broke that monopoly.
If the system was working, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would have been prosecuted and jailed for various acts of corruption and abuse of office after he left office as Vice President, some of which are:
(a) For himself and his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, granting themselves licenses to build universities as President and Vice President whilst in office in clear breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers. Those Universities would have been probed, seized and transferred to the Nigeria State and the Nigerian people by now.
(b) Laundering slush funds to the United States of America using phony companies, part of which was used to fund his present American University in Adamawa State through which he is also extorting Nigerians through exorbitant fees. It is public knowledge that this indictment is contained in a US Congressional Report that has led to the prosecution and conviction of his accomplices in the US, which are William Jefferson and Siemens. They were convicted under a system that works, whilst he has been walking free in Nigeria and even aspiring to the highest office in the land. It is also public knowledge that his ban from entering the United States was as a result of these indictments.
(c) His indictment and recommendation for prosecution by the Report of the EFCC over the PTDF scandal whilst he was Vice President.
We have also read with keen interest the case filed against Alhaji Atiku Abubakar by some public spirited Nigerians alleging that he never paid his Personal Income Taxes as at when due, yet he wants to ‘get Nigeria working again’. In this regard, we are also challenging Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to publicly display his Personal Income Tax receipts for the 3 years preceding 2018 to show that he did not just run to FIRS in 2018 to pay his backlog of Personal Income Taxes.
For the information of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, President Muhammadu Buhari’s gallant efforts in tackling corruption headlong has led to the conviction of the President’s own party men and ex Governors who served under PDP and for acts they committed whilst in PDP. 703 persons and institutions have been convicted by the EFCC under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari since 2015. The biggest recoveries of stolen public funds in the history of Nigeria is being carried out by President Muhammadu Buhari. These recoveries were made from principally his party men who now wish to lead Nigeria with him. Some of these recoveries/seizures/forfeitures (interim and final) are:
(a) 407 Mansions since 2015.
(b) N794 Billion, over $261 Million Dollars, 1.1 Million Pounds Sterling, 8.1 Million Euros,
(c) 259 Automobiles.
(d) A fully functional hospital, St. Solomon Health Care Centre at 24, Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja Lagos e.t.c.
There are so many other instances too numerous to mention. These are a world apart from the few instances of the reluctant fight against corruption that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar claimed happened under his watch as Vice President. During his time, there was a competition for corruption between himself, his boss and public officers.
We also urge the PDP to stop making wild, unsubstantiated allegations of corruption without a modicum of proof. We have no time to respond to any allegation by the PDP without the backing of some kind of document or proof. When we see some scintilla of proof, we shall respond appropriately. And that is how we have treated the recent allegation of acquisition of shares in Etisalat and Keystone Bank by some supposed ‘family members’ of the President. No name was mentioned and no document was shown.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar latest adventure in trying to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in matters of integrity with President Muhammadu Buhari is a political suicide mission from which we thought his handlers would have tried to steer him away. But alas! They have decided to test the waters. Locally and internationally President Muhammadu Buhari stands several miles away from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in matters of integrity. When the President used all his life in public office building a reputation and a name, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar used all his life in public office to build mansions and acquire personal wealth. Now Judgment Day has come when the credential needed by the Nigerian people for the highest office are not the buildings and wealth but the simple quality of integrity.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar cannot eat his cake and have it.
FESTUS KEYAMO, SAN, FCIArb (UK)
Director of Strategic Communications (Official Spokesperson)
President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organization.