Why Are The Hounds After Atiku


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Why Are The Hounds After Atiku's Jugular?

-A Reply to Accusations on Washington Home




Joel Isyaku





August 29, 2005



Unfortunately for Nigeria, our country enjoys the unenviable reputation of a people who delight sadistically in bringing down those who have laboured legitimately to attain success in life. Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is a living example of how men of humble origins could successfully lift themselves by sheer hard work and determination to carry their destinies in their own hands. Although orphaned at a vulnerable age in the course of his early life, Atiku Abubakar did not perceive his tough beginning as an obstacle but as a stepping-stone.


For a man who had fended for himself through personal initiative and industry, consequently achieving success in the process, Atiku Abubakar should be a source of inspiration to other people caught up in the difficult circumstances of poverty. Instead, what the man is receiving are undeserved attacks from mercenary writers who, for lack any effective weapon to question his competence to succeed his boss, have reached for their poisoned arrows of personal hatred to pierce the guts of his integrity.


In a widely circulated article through the internet, written by some two self-styled moral watchdogs, Messrs Jonathan Elendu and Omoyele Sowore, the entire fabric of the Vice-President’s reputation was mercilessly but recklessly mauled by the two apparently sponsored political hounds. Instead of engaging in an honest research effort to understand the background to Atiku’s business success, which predates his tenure in this administration, the two hatchet writers were largely interested in going for Atiku’s moral jugular, in their desperation to nip his presidential ambition in the bud.


The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo once told the defunct “Africa Now” magazine, sometime in 1981, that regardless of our ideological leanings, we must strive for economic security through honest labour. According to the revered national political figure, “if you have the acumen of making money but deny yourself the opportunity because you believe in socialism, you may find yourself a beggar.”


Such powerful arguments of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo inevitably spring back to memory each time one examines the humble story of Atiku Abubakar and how hard work became his ultimately weapon of rising successfully in life. If Atiku Abubakar has purchased a house outside the country or set up a University in the country from the fruit of his honest labour, is there anything criminal in that?

  It’s true Mrs. Abubakar has Washington home. Is that a sin or a crime? The welfare policies of that country entitles her to a house. Besides, she had a town house before they came into government. She sold this and her husband made the difference for her to buy the Potomac home. The Vice President is a well established businessman with businesses across the land. These are businesses that are legitimate and so are his earnings from them. Anyone with doubts about the legitimacy of his earnings should know what to do on the matter. There are statutory bodies in custodianship of records of his businesses and assets such as Code of Conduct Bureau. A journalist with a legitimate enquiry can access the records as a matter of public interest. In addition, the EFCC is also there, it has powers to check what incomes are fed into his account.  


The purchase could only be tainted if the two writers can prove that the funds for the purchase were stolen from the public treasury after Atiku Abubakar took office. Does holding public office suggest that public officials should not purchase cars or houses from their long-term previous investments? If the two writers cannot meet the basic requirement of investigative effort, such as verifying the credibility of their jaundiced sources of information, how do they want discerning readers to take them seriously? Is it a scandal if a public office holder buys a property from the investments he was operating before taking office? Does it breach any existing law if a public office holder purchases property from legitimate funds, provided it was not proven he stole such money from the public coffers?


Kenneth Clark, the former Independent Prosecutor who probed the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the United States, wasted over forty-million dollars of taxpayers’ money in his desperate effort to stick some dirt on former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary over their Whitewater Investment Company. Clearly, Kenneth Clark inspired by undisguised Republican prejudice, could find no ammo to demolish the reputation of the Clintons over their business investment in Whitewater.


However, in order to justify the over forty million dollars taxpayers money he wasted in pursuit of political vendetta, Mr. Clark had to divert his search from Whitewater to Paula Jones and then finally to Monica Lewinsky.


One believes that we should not persecute public office holder who attained economic prosperity through hard work or legitimate labour. For example, should our President abandon his investment in Otta farms just because he is holding public office, or should we crucify him just if he chooses to buy property from his Otta farm investments rather than drawing on public funds? If leaders should not purchase property from their legitimate investments, then can the public cope with the chances of such public office holders stealing their money to meet personal comfort?


As Chief Fani-Kayode once argued, our President does not need public funds to meet certain private obligations or needs. He said with the approximately 30 million naira which the Otta farms investment are raking in for the President, General Obasanjo does not require access to public funds to meet private needs.


It is erroneous and even impish for Messrs Jonathan Elendu and Omoyele Sowore to suggest that Atiku Abubakar purchased the property in the U.S. from the money he allegedly ‘stole’ few months after settling into office. The idea that the Vice-President is on a stealing spree since he took office cannot be buttressed by the realities on the ground.


The privatization exercise is one area where so much hullabaloo has been made about the huge money Atiku Abubakar allegedly stole. However, no critic or his denigrator has as yet produced concrete and reliable proof of how much he has stolen as the Chairman of the National Council on Privatization. The hack writers should have provided proof of how much money he has made for himself from the privatization exercise at public expense. Again, if truly they are motivated by public interest, in order to promote transparency in government, what stopped them from going to court, the EFCC or the ICPC with such proof (if indeed they had any in the first place)?


Anybody can play to the gallery by throwing wild allegations around. But once you ask them to produce proof, they either start scratching their heads or pissing in their trousers! Even as the Chairman of the National Council on Privatization, Atiku Abubakar does not issue contracts or authorize payments for any project. The President in council has the ultimate of final say on such matters.


Operating under such severe limitations or straightjacket, Atiku Abubakar could not have exerted such enormous influence over the privatization council, let alone sell shares to himself, his friends or award contracts to his own companies. His powers on the council are exaggerated beyond what common sense would have accepted.


However, since the mission of the hack writers is not the genuine promotion of public interest or respect for the sanctity of the truth, they would demolish whatever facts stand in the way of such mission. Their effort is sheer propaganda and smear campaign designed to undermine Atiku’s presidential ambition. Any merciless focus on a particular public figure for smear campaign can automatically expose the dark motives of the hatchet writers behind the current efforts to ruin the reputation of the Vice-President, a kind of moral equivalent of scorched earth policy to throw a spanner into the works of his presidential ambition.





Jimeta, Yola.




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