•Challenges traducers to prove he’s corrupt or shut up
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
With another electioneering season just a few months away, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has declared that he would fight corruption like never before if he’s given the opportunity to preside over the affairs of the country.
Atiku, who has never hidden his desire to rule Nigeria and would most contest for the presidency in 2019, also challenged those he described as his “self-righteous political enemies” who have been accusing him of corruption to either prove the corruption allegations against him, or mind the skeletons in their own closets by keeping quiet.
Atiku made the remarks yesterday at a facility tour of the new ultra-modern Yaliam Press Limited in the Jabi area of Abuja.
Atiku’s political adversaries have often accused him of being tainted by corruption, especially after he was associated with an ex-United States congressman, William Jefferson who was tried in that country in 2009 for corruption.
His erstwhile boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had also accused him of corruption, particularly during the war of attrition that drove a deep wedge between both men during their second term in office.
Despite the allegations, Atiku has never been charged for corruption by any law enforcement agency in the country and has maintained his innocence.
However, Atiku, in a statement issued by his media office yesterday, challenged anyone with evidence of corruption against him to come forward or keep quiet.
If anything, the former vice-president said he was adequately equipped to fight corruption because of his vast experience in the private and public sectors and would shock everyone because he would fight graft like never before.
Atiku was quoted as saying: “It is sickening to continue to regurgitate allegations of corruption against me by people who have failed to come forward with a single shred of evidence of my misconduct while in office.”
Atiku also said that it was people who have no initiative, personal resourcefulness and ideas about wealth creation that always assume that a man cannot build himself without stealing.
According to him, “People who are bereft of ideas about entrepreneurial spirit always think that everyone else is a thief just like them.”
He added that it was morally offensive for people who despise honest labour to become judges in the court of public opinion.
The Waziri Adamawa explained that though he had not been convicted of corruption by any court in the land or elsewhere, his political enemies have been parading a “fake morality” to fool gullible Nigerians.
“Despite previous desperate efforts to link me with corruption, the William Jefferson trial in the United States ended in 2009 without indicting me or linking me to corrupt activities,” he said.
Atiku, who recalled that he had pasted a reminder at his bed rest during his training as a Customs officer that he (Atiku) would retire from any agency if he had not attained the headship of the place at the age of 40, added that he was only able to attain the position of deputy director of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) before his exit in 1989 to chart a career in business.
While recounting his stint in the civil service, Atiku said he retired from the Customs Service with an untainted record, and if anyone had evidence that he stole a kobo at the Customs Service or during his tenure as vice-president, the accusers should come forward or file a petition against him.
According to him, he did not become Nigeria’s vice-president in 1999 as a pauper because he had been a successful investor throughout his retirement life.
“If Atiku is a thief merely because of his resourcefulness and successful investments, my political enemies should tell Nigerians the sources of their own stupendous wealth,” he added.
He charged the management and staff of Yaliam Press to manifest the values of honesty, hard work and diligence, attributes he said had stood him in good stead during his years as a public servant and entrepreneur.
The former vice-president stressed that he was well equipped to fight corruption because of his vast experience both in the public and private sectors and his ability to build a team capable of accomplishing the task.
“I will shock everyone because I believe that I will fight corruption like never before,” he said.