Former Vice President and presidential aspirant in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, has described public perception of corruption on his person as a product of mere orchestration, dismissing it as unfounded in facts and records.
Called to clear the air during an interactive session with his enthusiasts in Sagamu on Wednesday, May 9, Atiku pointed out that there has been no corruption charges against him anywhere.
“I have been fighting government throughout my political career. I fought the military and also fought to defend my belief in the processes of democracy, rule of law and what I believe to be in the best interest of the nation while in and out of government.
When I left the ruling party to join the opposition at different points, many were worried that the government will pursue and bring me down. If they had anything against me, I would have been done for.
They would have charged me but there is no such charge anywhere. Even the EFCC that is being used today, I brought the template for it from Brazil and we had to lend the EFCC the N300m from the privatization fund to start functioning before their budget could be passed. The laws of the EFCC that we brought in the original template were very stringent but they have watered it down”.
Also reacting to comments that he cannot go to the United States, Atiku explained that he has long applied but has not been granted visa but wondered why people are tending to belittle the integrity of the nation by relating going to the United States as an issue in Nigerian politics and government.
“Our constitution does not say you have to travel to America before one can be president. I applied for visa and the say it is under administrative process, what do you want me to do? If you make me president, America will invite me but, please, do not belittle your sovereignty. Going to America is not a condition for Nigerian Presidency. My late boss, Yaradua was never keen about United States”.
Atiku said rather than waste breath on a matter as insignificant as traveling to the US, he is more focused on working on the issues affecting the economic development of the nation and welfare of citizens. Of particular concern to him is the incident of the clashes between herdsmen and farmers on which he lamented that both the government and security agencies seem not to be up to the task.
“Honestly, I am a Fulani man and I have more than 1000 heads of cattle. On the herdsmen and farmers clash, the security does not seem to be up to the task and the government does not seem to know what to do. I will take the example of Fayose in Ekiti State. He called all the heads of the herders and they had an understanding on how to go about things. Since then, I have not heard much of the clashes from Ekiti.
“Part of the problem has to do with our local administration system. In those days there is no way you can enter any community with even five cattle without registration. You must report and be recorded by the local authorities.
You are even to pay tax per head on your cattle. The new system of administration where the traditional institutions and community leaders are completely eliminated from government is a problem.
You have to use the traditional institutions to handle local issues. That’s where the issue of devolution of power comes in. Once the states have the power they can act. That is why I also support state police”.
Atiku also regretted the manipulation of religion to destroy our common brotherhood pointing out that the tendencies for religious and ethnic conflict has been fueled by the incidence of injustice and inequitable treatments in governance, with the sad outcome of turning the victims against themselves.
“I have never seen a religious country like Nigeria. Both major religions do not encourage violence. It is not actually religion that is bringing conflict. Injustice and inequality being promoted by our government is at the root.
Injustice and unequal treatment cannot bring peace. One of the greatest problems of this government is their inability to balance governance.
They show favoritism to different groups but it is not about the people. This leads to pent up anger. Government must make sure there is fairness and justice accorded to all religions and all parts of this country as a guarantee for peace and stability”.
On the issue of the involvement of the youth in governance, he pointed out that he has been a major protagonist in bringing the youth into government and disclosed his plan to reserve forty percent of government positions for the youth and thirty five for the women.
“I plan to give 40% space for youth involvement in my government. I brought all the young men that served in our government. Once I hear of any, at home or abroad, who have intelligence and capacity in certain key areas, I went to bring him. But if these young men have done what they were supposed to do, I wouldn’t even be here looking for President.
They were promised the position and were deceived to fight me hoping they will get the position. They didn’t get it and here we are”.
Relating the issue to his age, he declared that he is very healthy and fit, experienced in governance and economic development issues and have the competence and capacity to deliver on the job to usher in a better Nigerian in line with the wishes and hope of the citizenry.