Is Atiku Truly Corrupt?
By Tai Emeka Obasi.
Having taken a deep interest lately in politics, I have come to terms with the tricks of the game where most aspirants employ extreme dirty means just to push opponents over the bar. One of the commonest ever-ready routes to such trickery is the media. Media outlets have been used very negatively of late and ever ruthlessly to courier opinions, especially when it is all about smearing one’s character.
One of such characters presently in the middle of the smear storm is former vice president, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar. Mainly because he presents the most formidable force to oust the incumbent, whose fledging wings of incompetence seem destined to end by May 29, 2019, Waziri Adamawa has been facing all kinds of smears ranging from ordinary propaganda to an all-time high flurry of bizarre lies just to taint a man who pockets of evidence portray as a great patriot and, most importantly, a detribalized humanist whose only interest is to witness a nation desirous of our vast potentials.
One of such pony-tail inventions daily employed by mischief makers is labeling the former Customs’ top gun CORRUPT. Nigerians have this defeatist penchant for labeling any truly wealthy man with the toga of corruption, almost as if to imply that being a billionaire has no decent route besides that covered in shadiness and crime. Although it can be argued that the nation’s Customs department has not really covered itself in any positive form of glory. But then, Atiku’s days in active service to fatherland were well-documented.
To start with, the former governor-elect of Adamawa State didn’t meet his political mentor, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua by being corrupt. In fact, it was the Waziri Adamawa’s uprightness that attracted him to the late politician, who could equally be described as a straightforward patriot who wanted the best for his dear country. By rejecting Yar’Adua’s token of appreciation way back in 1989 as a 40-year old Customs officer operating as deputy director, Atiku unwittingly built his way to real wealth and political stardom.
Yar’Adua believed that any man that could reject such huge appreciation of cash, insisting he only did his job of assisting the ex-soldier import commodities via legal routes of which huge profits were made, was amongst men of the ideal integrity he was looking for to champion the cause of his dream Nigeria.
Again, Turaki was only 43 when he resigned from the Customs service to face his private businesses. He had only one step to becoming a director of Customs. No man with corrupt intentions would have willingly resigned from such position, especially when within a touching distance to the overall boss. I’m sure his friends then must have screamed at him he was going completely mad while others not too-friendly must have branded him utterly stupid. But he resigned to build a business and operate cleanly without being seen as reaping his dear country off.
One incident while he was in charge at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in 1984 would have expressly relieved this man of any corrupt garment. But Nigerians don’t give up, especially the mischief makers, once their hunting snouts have been dipped deep into the defamation garbage. The celebrated 53 suitcases saga! Despite the powerful cabal behind that episode, Atiku insisted on doing his job by standing by his men that reported the abnormality of forcing the suitcases through Customs, into Nigeria and taken to the Northern part of the country without the stipulated search. It nearly cost him his job. But for Finance Minister Onaolapo Soleye, who supervised the Department of Customs and Excise then, and insisted that Atiku should be left alone, a very dynamic and upright officer would have been dismissed for doing what was right for his country.
Today, they label same man with corruption! But to me, that was the moment the Waziri Adamawa started showing his fairness and firmness in support of one Nigeria without the attendant tribal sentiments. By the time Yar’Adua lured him into politics, there was no certainty that the Ibrahim Babangida-led government was interested in handing over. So nobody would say he resigned because he was certain he was going to become a governor. The Customs department was only dragging the man with focused vision back and he had to leave their lazy man’s comfort zone.
There are many first-hand experiences that would make anyone being forced to swallow the corrupt propaganda to stoutly spit it out all over the faces of the paid agents but perhaps the most entrailing I wish to recap here is that told by Engr. Ernest Ndukwe.
For beginners, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe is the former Executive Vice Chairman of Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC. Serving the Commission for ten years (2000 to 2009), Dr. Ndukwe moved Nigeria from 400,000 analogue lines in the year 2000 to over 80 million digital lines when he left office. As the second-in-command, Atiku it was who recruited great Nigerian technocrats to drive the economic-recovery course of our Fourth Republic.
Dr. Ndukwe was one of those Atiku spotted, personally interviewed and recruited for the Presidency barely six months after he resumed office as vice president.
Hear Dr. Ndukwe…
‘’One of the incidents that nearly cost me the position happened just less than two months into the job. A petition was already sent to the Presidency before I stepped feet into office as EVC. It was strongly worded; all bothering on that I wasn’t suitable for the position. And I was invited by the Presidency to defend myself.
‘’Sometime in around mid 90s, still under General Abacha, one Minister of Communications had set up a committee, Interconnectivity Committee to inspect facilities of companies that applied to be interconnected with NITEL, if indeed they had the infrastructure to carry out services as they sought. As the chairman of ATCON, I was the head of the five-man committee.
‘’So, we went to inspect one of those companies owned by Indians. And on inspection, which the MD of the Indian company took us to the control and service rooms, I noticed that in both rooms and all over, the company had only engineers of Indian origin.
‘’In my open-mindedness, I told the MD that his company didn’t employ Nigerian workforce and that I would mention it in my report and left with my team.
‘’Two days later the minister disbanded the committee and the inspection didn’t go further. But I thought nothing of it. After all, the work of the committee was almost voluntary in nature. It was rather the minister that should benefit if the inspection was thorough. So I faced my job and forgot all about it.
‘’But the Indian company didn’t forget. Apart from calling the minister and telling him what I said regarding not engaging Nigerian workforce that led to the minister abruptly disbanding the committee, the MD of the Indian company had kept tabs on me.
‘’It happened that the then minister was a shareholder in the Indian company. So when the same man was being considered as the EVC of NCC, the Indian MD had immediately sensed danger and spontaneously contacted the now ex-minister. Together they pulled strings, made enough contacts that led to the petition sent to the Presidency,’’ Dr. Ndukwe chronologically narrated.
All over the globe the business world is a deadly jungle. Survival is a no-hold barred warfare. Protection of interests is the first rule. Nigeria business terrain thrived on such warfare. But the man they were warring against was playing by the just book. He explained himself with regards to the petition.
‘’Atiku was first to respond, ‘we can’t punish a man for doing his job. We’re looking for patriots and here is one before our eyes’. President Obasanjo nodded in agreement and asked me to go and do my job. And from that moment both the president and vice never interfered with my job,’’ the former EVC concluded.
If you have never met an honest, upright and incorruptible Nigerian, then find ways to meet Dr. Ndukwe. He’s detribalized too and ever proffers solutions that would enhance humanity. He granted me this interview over a year ago, while I was gathering materials for the book, Nigeria’s GSM Revolution: Ndukwe’s Touch Of Midas. The over 300-page book is still in the print house.
The Oraifite-born technocrat educated me further. He told me he understood what corruption meant in our country when he took charge of NCC. He lamented on the incessant pressures, particularly from the National Assembly, to jettison professionalism to do things the Nigerian way. Pressed as I did, he refused to mention names but singled out some decent and honest Nigerians that he came across while serving one’s country. The book will emphasise further. Of course, he never yielded to such pressures.
Dr. Ndukwe’s biggest hatred is a corrupt person. Once he saw corruption around you, the telecommunications guru gave you a wide berth. So when he lamented that it was mischief makers that engineered the feud between President Obasanjo and his vice, Atiku, he was talking as an insider. When Dr. Ndukwe said Atiku would have made a very good president he meant every word. The Ndukwe I know wouldn’t have been that emphatic if he noticed signs of corruption in the Waziri Adamawa.
And he was in a very good position to know. The very first DML auction that berthed the GSM revolution in early 2001 generated $855 million for Nigeria. And subsequently the NCC became second to only NNPC in fund generation. Atiku, despite employing Dr. Ndukwe, never pressured him for any financial favours. Of all companies that got NCC licenses, none was traced to the former vice president. Any corrupt Nigerian would have tried to take undue advantage of Dr. Ndukwe. When the ex-NCC boss granted me this interview, Atiku was not in the picture of running for the presidency in 2019. So, he wasn’t campaigning for the former vice president.
I’ve seen propaganda before and believe this corruption hang rope around the former vice president’s neck is just another of opposition’s gimmicks to lead the ever-vulnerable populace astray. But don’t fall for it.
Atiku has dared them to prove he’s corrupt. They couldn’t prove it in any court of law. Now it’s the propaganda court. Ignore them and stick behind one God has destined to get this country out of the doldrums.
# AtikuForPresident .