“Mr President, the problem with your anti-corruption war is not the system. You are the problem!,” says former VP and PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar.
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye & Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Contrary to the stance of President Muhammadu Buhari that the system is responsible for the slow pace of the anti-corruption war of his administration, former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar insisted that the President is the main problem of his anti-graft war.
Buhari on Tuesday, during a Christmas visit to him by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) community, blamed the system for the slow pace of the fight against corruption by his administration.
However, Atiku, in a statement yesterday, said the President’s comment was an admittance that he failed in the fight against corruption.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate noted that although the system has challenges, there would always be progress where there is political will, stating that Buhari’s lack of ideas and politicisation of the anti-corruption war of his administration was largely responsible for his failure to tackle corruption.
He said instead of fighting corruption, the government was only targeting members of the opposition and legitimate businesses, resulting in capital flight out of the country.
“According to the President, his administration is slow in fighting corruption because the system is slow. My immediate response to this is to commend President Buhari for admitting that he has failed in fighting corruption.
“The President has just corroborated Transparency International, whose latest Corruption Perception Index shows that Nigeria is more corrupt today than it was under the previous administration, having moved 12 places backwards in the CPI, from 136 in 2014 to 148 this year.
“But my point of departure from the President is in blaming his failure on the system. I disagree. The system has challenges, yes, but where there is political will, the system can make progress.
“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!
“Based on the above statement of facts, I will not allow you to make Nigeria the scapegoat for your failure. Your failure is personal, and not national.
“The system allows you to arrest, try and convict your former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who was fingered in a major corruption case, but you chose to let him go scot free and you demonstrated your tolerance for his corruption by giving him a prominent role in your re-election campaign and recently welcoming him to the Presidential Villa with open arms.
“The system allowed you to arrest, try and convict Abdulrasheed Maina, who is suspected of looting the pensions of millions of aged Nigerians. Yet you chose not to go that route, preferring instead to recall him, reinstate and double promote him while giving him armed guards to move about.
“The system allows you to probe the $25 billion NNPC contracts awarded without due process, but you chose to bury the matter under the carpet, hoping the Nigerian people will forget about that grand scale alleged looting exposed by a leaked memo from a member of your cabinet.
“The system did not stop the EFCC from charging the opposition Governor of Akwa-Ibom, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, as a co-accused in the case involving the NBA Chairman, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN). Contrast this with the treatment meted out to Governor Umar Ganduje (Kano State) of the ruling All Progressive Congress.
“Finally, nothing in the system stops you from telling Nigerians who owns the billions found in an Ikoyi apartment,” Atiku stated.
The former Vice President added that he would not allow Buhari make the country a scapegoat for his personal failures.
“If you could go abroad to insult Nigerian youths as lazy, why did you go to Paris to praise a governor who was caught red-handed receiving bribes on camera?” He queried.
Atiku stated that if Buhari sincerely believed that the system was the problem, he would have embraced restructuring.
Responding, The Presidency said the only people remote controlling Buhari are 200 million-plus Nigerians.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said if the opposition party, wants to make family the issue in the coming elections, the APC would gladly accept the challenge.
He told State House correspondents yesterday that questions raised by the PDP in regard to Buhari’s wife only amounted to an own goal: “The PDP leadership cannot afford to make family an issue in this campaign.
The PDP is engaging in mudslinging because it finds it easier than speaking on their despicable 16-year record.
“They made a mess of everything including the economy, security and infrastructure. It has come to the destiny of Buhari to correct their mistakes.
“The PDP doesn’t see anything beyond grabbing power at all costs. As an opposition party, they have failed. They have remained disconnected with the masses.
“It is an irony that a party that boasted as being the largest in Africa is now begging small parties for alliances. Even if they get all those paper parties behind them, they will still fail.
“They have launched a campaign for the Presidency, a campaign that has failed to get any traction. PDP members are themselves admitting that attendance at rallies had unarguably been thin. The whole thing is not working; that President Buhari is unstoppable.
Rather than a so-called cabal, Buhari is remote-controlled by the 200 million-plus Nigerians whose interest is uppermost in everything he says and does.
“The PDP doesn’t have the strength and support to fight Buhari. They don’t have the records in security, economy and the war against corruption to mount any meaningful challenge. They have no records of accomplishments in infrastructure.
“In the 16 years they held sway, they have nothing to show for the colossal oil revenues earned, including $16 billion doled upfront from the Central Bank for power, without a single megawatt to show for all that money. That is why they are dragging the President’s wife into their politics.”
Also reacting, National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu, said Atiku was exhibiting early signs of depression, resulting from obvious frustration.
He asked Atiku in a statement in Abuja yesterday to “tell Nigerians why a discredited person like him should be elected as President instead of raising puerile allegations on a daily basis.
“For Atiku and his PDP co-travellers, the only interest is to grab power and continue where they stopped in their avarice. The APC administration is eager to showcase the impressive achievements we have recorded in the last three and a half years.
“We won’t yield to the PDP’s shenanigans. The obvious strategy of the PDP is to truncate the country’s journey towards economic buoyancy and social stability. We will not play the PDP’s game.
“PDP is acting an anti-people’s script. Buhari remains unshaken by the desperate efforts being made by Atiku and the PDP to blackmail the APC government. Everyone who was involved in corrupt practices would be brought to justice.
“PDP is not offering any alternative to the progressive course this government is pursuing. It is actually apparent that the party is not contesting the 2019 elections to redeem itself, least of doing any good for the country, but simply to seize power to escape justice for the previous crimes committed against the people of this country.”