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Atiku Abubakar And Eccentric Ambition

December 17, 2010

Watching Atiku Abubakar a couple of days ago threaten fire, sulphur and brimstone against his party the PDP and his main political opponent President Goodluck Jonathan, my mind went back to a most hilarious yet informative encounter with an older acquaintance of mine, a Presidential candidate of one of the unknown but convenient political parties.

Watching Atiku Abubakar a couple of days ago threaten fire, sulphur and brimstone against his party the PDP and his main political opponent President Goodluck Jonathan, my mind went back to a most hilarious yet informative encounter with an older acquaintance of mine, a Presidential candidate of one of the unknown but convenient political parties.

It was just a few weeks after the 2007 presidential elections that brought Umaru Musa Yar’adua to power. I had called my Presidential candidate contact up to let him know that I was in town; Presido as we called him being the jovial chap he is immediately invited me over to his abode. While not so eager to go see him at that moment I was persuaded by the fact that in my journalism days, he had been a steady and ready source of political chit-chats, personal scandals and not so reliable but valuable information which he enthusiastically volunteered whether requested or not.

Sarah my Scottish journalist friend demanded to come along; she wanted to hear first hand from a loosing presidential candidate, “it will beef up my story,” she pleaded. We met him in the garden of a run down, decrepit hotel where he was putting up somewhere in the Wuse District of Abuja and over the next hour Sarah and I suffered through his political thoughts, views, treatise and philosophies. He vowed that he won the 2007 Presidential election and when I reminded him that he had received less than a dozen votes, he banged the plastic table viciously and yelled “Nosa you a smart man do you think that Yar’adua can beat me in the south-east my own place?” I murmured something to the effect that he was an unknown quantity. He rained curses on Obasanjo, Iwu, Anenih, and Igbo ‘sell outs’ all of whom he concluded had stolen his mandate from him. Sarah unused to Nigerian politicians was visibly impressed by his bombast and mordant threats of a second civil war if the injustice done him was not undone inquired if he intended to retrieve his “stolen mandate” by going to court. Our friend dismissed the option as untenable; he was leaving Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Iwu to God and the public court. As we made to leave, he called out to one of the hotel attendants for a bottle of water for Sarah. To Sarah’ chagrin, not mine, the hotel attendant bluntly and contemptuously refused to attend to him and a war of words ensued between Presido and the attendant. It was in the midst of the verbal battle that the information came out that Presido had been inhabiting the sad looking hotel for four months and owed nearly three hundred thousand naira in unpaid debts. His credit had run out and until he paid cash, he was to be unattended to. I paid for the bottled water, muttered my apologies to Presido who loudly dismissed them with a wave of the hand “no mind them. Na next week INEC go give us our grant I go settle them!” Sarah who didn’t understand pidgin asked me what the racket had been all about, till today she remains in the dark as to Presido’ duplicity.

As Atiku Abubakar spoke at that gathering put together to firm up his depleted political base, my mind wandered back to Presido and his hollowness. There is no difference between Atiku and Presido; they are men of the past trying to garnish a forgotten yesterday with an assorted condiment of bravado, threats and promises seasoned by the hope that Nigerians forget so easily.

The Atiku of yesterday was that man who took on Obasanjo and earned the public’ sympathy, he mistook this sympathy for love and admiration. Devoid of the massive support of the South-Western press which Bola Tinubu put at his disposal in 2006 and 2007, Atiku comes across today as an ethnic jingoist, tribal war Lord and native authority chief.  No doubt he is going to lose the PDP primaries and expectedly will defect to another political party since he is determined to by President by hook or by crook.

Why would Atiku lose? He is just not trusted by most Nigerians who see him as both a desperado and intensely corrupt. He has too many questions to answer but refuses to answer them. His cupboard reeks with fetid corpses of corruption and a distasteful personal life. I still wonder at the perfidy of a man who a few years ago dismissed his party as incorrigible and inveterately peopled and led by malcontents. He left the PDP for the A.C and having been roundly and soundly defeated by Yar’adua and probably realising that his membership of A.C was unlikely to guarantee him success in the future, he surreptitiously crept to Otta farms to beg President Olusegun Obasanjo who less than two years before he had roundly condemned as a failure. Yes like the wavering sea he came back less than two years later to the same party he had cursed and denigrated. His supporters have called his move calculative, but the reality is that he defined himself as untrustable, unreliable and irredeemable by his carpet-bagging movement to and fro PDP-AC-PDP. Certainly most Nigerians know that when Atiku Abubakar loses the January PDP primaries he would scream blue murder and seek another party platform to contest on. He just must be a presidential candidate, which is the only way his ‘goliathic’ ego can be assuaged.

Nigerians see Atiku as severely corrupt and Atiku cares less for our views. As usual he has dismissed every accusation, every allegation, every fact and every truth relating to his underhand and under the board dealings as the handy work of his political opponents. How true is this depressed but usual defence? The United States senate sub-committee on Investigations led by Michigan Senator Carl Levin in February this year indicted Atiku Abubakar and his wife Jennifer of gross misconduct, fraud and money laundering. Atiku Abubakar and his wife the committee noted succeeded in bringing $40 million in suspect funds into the United States between 2000 and 2008, $14 million of which were accepted by American university Washington. In accepting the money, the American University did not question the question the source of the offshore corporations that transferred the funds.

Furthermore, the US Securities and Exchange Commission had received civil complaints in 2008, alleging that Jennifer Douglas, Atiku Abubakar’ wife received “over $2.8 million in bribe payments in 2001 and 2002 from Siemens AG, a German firm, to bribe Nigerian officials.” According to the report, another $2.1 million was transferred by wire through Edward Weirdenfeld, a US lawyer, who represented Douglas, Abubakar and the American University of Nigeria owned by the former vice-president.

The list of money laundering allegations against the Atiku Abubakar includes funds allegedly laundered through some American banks, including Citibank, Eagle bank, Chevy Chase, SunTrust Bank, and Wachovia Bank. At Citibank in Maryland, Jennifer Atiku was alleged to have opened 18 different accounts, which included personal checking accounts, a home equity account, three accounts in the name of her organisation, Gede Foundation and two extra personal checking accounts that were later expanded for the AUN and Jennifer herself.

These accounts were said to have been used to bring in $40 million suspect funds through the bank into the US. In addition, she was said to have maintained three Citibank credit card accounts, three for herself and Abubakar and one for Gede Foundation. The report alleged that Jennifer lived like a king, paying credit card bills and household expenses in the range of $10, 000 to $90,000 monthly, including hefty legal and financial fees.

At home Atiku has been indicted by several government agencies including the EFCC for corruption and looting but has always managed to get away from prosecution by appealing to the sentiments of a highly divided society like ours. An overwhelming majority of Nigerians know that Atiku is corrupt; they also know that he succeeded in skipping trial due to the massive support given him by the Nigerian media in 2006 that portrayed him as the David fighting an epic battle with the Philistines. Now that he has been accused of corruption by the United States senate, I wonder what his defence would be, I assume it will be the usual “it is my political enemies that are after me.”

For a man who wants to rule us, Atiku Abubakar recently threatened that unless he won the PDP primaries, he and his supporters would engage in violent response against the Nigerian state. Atiku is too much of a coward to undertake warfare against the might of the state. With his illicit wealth and treasures stored up in Dubai and other assorted entities, Atiku would certainly be the first to flee when the might of the state responds to his bravado.

Atiku is not a presidential material. He is definitely a “good politician” in the Nigerian sense with the dexterity and flair to navigate the calcified unnameable pathways of Nigerian politics. One thing is certain Atiku Abubakar will not rule us. Nigerians know him too much to vote for him. Lacking Bola Tinubu’ support, Atiku will lose and lose well and maybe we will once and for all delagacify him.

nosa james-igbinadolor can be reached at [email protected]

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