President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted sharply to comments credited to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, that he should not blame the system for his inabilty to tackle corruption, noting that if the system worked Atiku should be cooling his heels in jail.
On the occasion of a Christmas homage paid on him by members of the Federal Capital Territory Community led by its minister, Mohammed Bello, the President blamed his inability to fight corruption on the slow Nigerian system.
However, in a statement titled, “Dear President Buhari, Don’t Blame The Nigerian System For Your Failure,” Atiku berated the President citing instances where he (Buhari) turned a blind eye to corruption under his watch by his own men.
His words: “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!
“The system allows you to arrest, try and convict your former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, 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, the biggest ever alleged thief in our civil service history, 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.
“Finally, nothing in the system stops you from telling Nigerians who owns the billions found in an Ikoyi apartment.
“Based on the above statement of facts, I will not allow you to to make Nigeria the scapegoat for your failure. Your failure is personal, and not national.
“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?
“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 of the ruling All Progressive Congress.
“Besides, your excuse is deceptive, because you have staunchly resisted restructuring. If you really believed that the system is the problem, you would have embraced restructuring.
“Unfortunate as your admitted failure in the war on corruption is, it is your economic policy that is the greater failure. Your lack of ideas and your politicisation of the corruption war has made your administration fight legitimate businesses and the opposition.
“I might add that it is actions such as this that have led to an unprecedented capital flight which has caused joblessness and made Nigeria the world headquarters for extreme poverty under your watch.”
But in a lacerating response, the official spokesman of the President Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mr. Festus Keyamo, was unsparing of Atiku and past PDP administrations.
His statement reads: “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 are 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 credentials 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.”