Nigeria’s former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, and the current governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai, both members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are currently in a media war following Atiku’s interview with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) magazine Zero Tolerance.
Atiku had said in the interview, disclosed that the fallout between him and his former boss, former president Olusegun Obasanjo was as a result of the fact that he thwarted his (Obasanjo) third term bid, which he (Atiku) claimed was a strategy by Obasanjo to be president for life. Read that here.
In the interview also, Atiku responding to a question, said that El-Rufai and pioneer EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu were used by Obasanjo to tag him as corrupt.
The current governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, in his book: “Accidental Public Servant” portrays you as a very corrupt person. Is the book account accurate about your person?
Did he give any evidence or prove where I was corrupt? Again this is the same el-Rufai whom I was instrumental in bringing into government and making him Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), and eventually a minister. You also forgot that it was the same el-Rufai and Nuhu that my boss used in cooking up the indictment that was eventually thrown out.
So, where is the evidence of corruption? It’s just not fair for you to say somebody is corrupt without substantiation. This is the same el-Rufai who testified on TV that he worked with me as DG of BPE for four years and there was never a time I asked him or instructed him to do anything unethical in those years.
So, how am I a corrupt person? This is the same el-Rufai and others who incorporated Transcorp during my time as Vice President and offered me shares and I declined. I wrote them officially to say it was unethical of me to have accepted those offers. So, where is the corruption toga coming from?But he mentioned the fact that you were the arrowhead in the N50 million bribe scandal involving Senators Ibrahim Mantu, Jonathan Zwingina and others during his ministerial confirmation screening…
No, absolutely not. He must have misconstrued what happened. He actually ran to me to say that he was denied confirmation by the Senate. Of course, I called Mantu and others and confronted them, and they admitted that yes they denied him because they do not see him as a Minister. It is also on record, because I controlled the campaign funds, every Senator benefited from those funds; and El-Rufai now went and said those campaign funds were meant to be a bribe. This is how he came about concocting that story. Of course my boss, the President, investigated the story and found out that indeed every Senator got contributions from the campaign fund which I was managing.
So where is the corruption in that? Had he discovered that there was corruption, he would have used it against me because he was looking for anything to nail me. But he couldn’t get it because I brought him evidence of all those that benefited from the campaign fund.
When he was asked if there is a restriction on him to the U.S, Atiku said that he had visited his family in the U.S several times after leaving office, adding that he has no reason to visit for now since his wife is no more there.
Following Atiku’s interview, El-Rufai released a statement on his Facebook Page titled: “Atiku haunted by his corruption demons”.
This statement is issued in response to the latest falsehoods to emerge from Alhaji Atiku Abubukar. He has a record of spewing outright lies and innuendo against my person.
As we struggle to build a law-abiding society and secure progressive outcomes for our people, we cannot allow the triumph on these shores of those who will have us move to a post-factual world. Not even from a man as practiced as Alhaji Atiku is in the dark arts of damaging other people through a campaign of lies from him and his media machine.
Therefore, I am constrained to provide a response to the fake news and irresponsible revision of recent history by Alhaji Atiku.
1. I never had anything to do with the incorporation of Transcorp. Those that established that company and fronted it like Festus Odimegwu, Tony Elumelu, Otunba Lawal Solarin and Ndidi Okereke-Onyiuke are still around and alive. As such I could not have and did not offer Alhaji Atiku any shares in Transcorp. I declined the shares that were offered to me. Having done that, how could I have offered anyone shares?
2. In fact, I advised President Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Atiku and then finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala not to accept the shares that were then being offered by the promoters of Transcorp. My counsel to them was based on the grounds that they would face conflicts of interest when Transcorp bids for privatization assets. At the time Alhaji Atiku and Ngozi were chair and vice-chair of the National council on Privatization, and were particularly directly involved in approving the sales of state-owned enterprises and assets.
3. It is too late in the day to try to pretend that the fiasco concerning the attempt by then Senators Ibrahim Mantu and Jonathan Zwingina to extort money from me for Senate clearance never happened. All Alhaji Atiku has just done is confirm that he paid the Senators, as I revealed in Page 139 of my book.
4. When I published The Accidental Public Servant in 2013, Alhaji Atiku unleashed his media team in a campaign of vilification. Despite the viciousness of the attacks, they did not contest or explain away his shenanigans that were detailed in the book, from the Ericsson manoeuvre, to the Abuja water treatment plant contract and his obsession with marabouts and their assurances of the political big prize. He might also consider a full reckoning for what he and his acolytes did with public funds in the PTDF imbroglio, rather than indulging the usual bold face of the Nigerian big-man.
5. As a federal public servant, my oath of allegiance appropriately stood with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not the big men whose conduct I was privileged to witness at close quarters. People like Alhaji Atiku think that loyalty to them should be the goal of a public officer, and that it should trump the oath of allegiance to the country.
6. Our Alhaji Atiku is already running for 2019, and he thinks that he can make people like us collateral damage in his attempt to rejuvenate his image. This obsession for power inclined him to support the rebellion against the party that manifested in the National Assembly, and is continuing with obvious disrespect for the incumbent president. Everyone knows that I support and will continue to work for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari as he leads our country through tough times.
7. Everyone is entitled to rehabilitation. But that often requires coming clean with the people. Can Alhaji Atiku explain the findings in the report of the United States Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations which detailed a pattern of wire transfers of more than USD 40m from offshore companies like Siemens into bank accounts controlled by him and one of his wives. The report detailing the US Senate findings is online, as one of four case histories of foreign corruption in the USA. Alhaji Atiku should tell a better tale of why he is avoiding America.
8. Someone as obsessed by Nigeria’s presidency as he is, should clear up such matters conclusively. We wait to see how well he does with that.
Read Atiku’s full interview on PREMIUM TIMES.