Sani: Why Atiku is fighting el-Rufai


Malam Uba Sani is the Political Adviser to the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai. In this chat with journalists in Abuja, he talked about the current security situation in the state and the face-off between his principal and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Bolaji Adebiyi presents excerpts:

What is Governor Nasir el Rufai doing to redress the security situation in Southern Kaduna?
You need to have a proper understanding of Kaduna State to enable you properly situate the incidents that have occurred in recent times in southern parts of the state. First, Kaduna Sate is not at all burdened by insecurity. Yes, we recently had challenges in a number of communities in the southern parts of the state but the situation is firmly under control. Perhaps the situation could have been worse but for the measures that have been put in place since Mallam Nasir el Rufai assumed office as the governor of the state in May 2015.

The very unfortunate and extremely condemnable incidents that have occurred in the southern parts of the state were as a result of inherited problems that are steeped in the failure of successive past administrations to punish impunity and lawlessness. Like many other states in Nigeria, Kaduna State has its peculiarities. Since 1980, the state has had 12 major ethnic and religious conflicts. Each time a crisis occurred, the state government would set up a commission or panel of inquiry to find out what happened and to recommend how to avoid recurrence.
No government has ever implemented in full the recommendations of any of these panels or commissions. As Governor El Rufai observed during his tour of affected communities, the current situation is a direct fall-out of the failure of the previous administrations to decisively tackle security problems when they occurred. The current administration has a perfect understanding of the dynamics in the state and is resolute about preventing reoccurrence of the crisis.

The governor and members of his team had studied the reports of all the committees and commissions of inquiries set up since 1980 and discovered that previous administrations neglected or refused outright to implement far-reaching recommendations made by these commissions of inquiries. But be that as it may, the situation is firmly under control now. There is no cause for alarm. Security forces have identified several of the perpetrators of the dastardly acts and the governor has ordered that they face the full weight of the law.

What are the measures the government is taking to avoid a recurrence of ethnic or religious conflagrations, particularly in southern parts of the state?
Persons fanning embers of discord in the southern parts of the state are always quick to create the impression that each time a crisis occurred it was always as a result of either religious or ethnic disagreements. But we have found out that this is hardly the truth in over 80 per cent of the cases. So, part of the preventive measures the El Rufai administration is putting in place is to make our people understand that as Nigerians, we have the right to live in any part of this country we chose to.

He said we are all Nigerians and God knows why he made all of us to be Nigerians. It is also God, who created us all and willed that we should belong to different faiths or religion. So, we are building structures that we believe will teach and instill the culture of tolerance and forgiveness of each other in our people. This is fundamental since it is at the heart of the matter. We may have ethnic, tribal or religious differences but we are all related; we are all brothers and sisters because God Almighty in his wisdom decided to bring all of us together in this beautiful state called Kaduna. So, getting our people to learn how to tolerate each other is important and of course the other aspect is the justice issue.

Another burning issue is the face-off between your boss and the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. What is your take on the accusations leveled against the governor by the former Vice President?
The governor has issued a reply to the claims of the former vice president. I totally agree with, and stand by that reply. And this is not just because I am currently his political adviser but also because I know the facts of the crisis that buffeted Alhaji Atiku, particularly in the last one year of his stay in office as the Vice President of Nigeria. I am familiar with the facts of that era because at the time, I was also serving in that government as the Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In any case, in recent times, it seems that attempting to pull down el Rufai at all costs has become the favorite sport of Atiku. But of course, as intelligent people, we can guess why he targets the governor regularly. I have carefully read through Alhaji Atiku’s interview published in the Zero Tolerance magazine, which of course has been widely reproduced on several social media platforms. I shudder at the very poor attempt by him to re-write history.
Mallam el Rufai’s records in all the public offices he has held are well known and properly documented. In virtually all instances, his rugged anti-corruption deportments have always placed him at harm’s way. The el Rufai we all know will not even bend the rules for himself. Be it at the Bureau of Public Enterprise, where he served as the Director-General for four years; or at the Federal Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory, where he presided as the minister for another four years; and even now in Kaduna State, where he currently serves as the popularly elected governor, el Rufai’s war against corruption is legendary.

In the interview, Atiku was curiously quoted as alleging that el-Rufai and others who incorporated Transcorp during his time as vice president, offered him shares and he declined. He said he wrote them officially to say it was unethical of him to have accepted the offer. Atiku’s intention here is unmistakable: to tar the highly respected el Rufai with the corruption brush. Records of the incorporation of Transcorp are at the Corporate Affairs Commission and other relevant agencies of government for any interested person to peruse.

Mallam el Rufai was never a member of the incorporating or founding team of Transcorp. He has never owned any share in Transcorp. Can someone offer what he does not have or own? El Rufai could not have offered Atiku shares in Transcorp because he never had any to offer. The former vice president is well aware of the facts but it is very convenient for him to manipulate the public given our penchant to be gullible sometimes.
He has obviously kicked off his 2019 presidential campaign and Atiku regards el Rufai as a rival of sorts. This is, however, disheartening given that the former vice president ought to know that power comes from Almighty Allah and Allah gives power to whomever He wills. Equally important is the fact that el Rufai’s support and loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari is unalloyed and unwavering.

Atiku also claimed that el Rufai and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the Executive Chairman of EFCC at the time, were used by former President Obasanjo to orchestrate unfounded corruption charges against him in order to prevent him from succeeding Obasanjo as president. Is that true?
Nothing can be farther from the truth. I am very familiar with the circumstances that led to the indictment of the former vice president for corruption. Former President Obasanjo, whose reputation as an anti-corruption crusader remains unassailable, ordered the inquisition that led to the indictment of his deputy after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had discovered illegal movements of cash into Atiku’s US account and of course his dealings with certain business men and interests in the US.

President Obasanjo, who single-handedly nominated Atiku as his running mate in 1999, did not originate the probe of his deputy in the US and Obasanjo, given his status as a highly respected international statesman and anti-corruption crusader of note, certainly could not have ignored the request of the US authorities to assist in the probe of what they discovered to be a huge international financial crime cabal.
In 2006 the US Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the US Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) commenced investigations into possible violations of federal laws of the US, including offences involving bribery of public officials, wire fraud, bribery of a foreign public official and conspiracy.

The US Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice via a letter dated June 22, 2006 requested for certain investigations to be carried out by Nigeria’s EFCC with regards to a business venture involving iGATE, an American company, and NDTV, a Nigerian company. The letter from America contained a long list of Nigerians that the US authorities wanted the EFCC to interrogate and investigate. Atiku’s name was on the list.
Once EFCC under Ribadu commenced investigations into the matter, shocking discoveries were made. Investigations by the EFCC were long-drawn and very thorough and the commission’s report on this crucial matter is very bulky. In a nutshell the EFCC discovered that the funds approved for the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) operations across the country were diverted to some banks for various placements at different interest rates over a period of time.

These placements were said to have been made pursuant to an approval sought by the PTDF Executive Secretary at the time, Y. H. Abubakar, whose office was under the Vice President (Atiku Abubakar) Office. The investigation, according to the EFCC, further revealed that these placements were made in the banks for purposes not unconnected with promoting some personal businesses, which coincided with the placements.
In the report, the EFCC queried among other things, what informed the vice president’s approval for the placement of $125m PTDF approved funds into these two banks as well as the unilateral approval of additional $20m by the vice president to PTDF and its subsequent placements in one of the banks, thereby negating the purpose for which the funds were applied for.

In a nutshell, the former vice president was indicted by the EFCC and the findings of the anti-corruption agency was corroborated by the Administrative Panel of Inquiry set up by the Federal Government. The immunity clause in the constitution prevented him from being prosecuted at the time. It is, however, true that the courts eventually ruled that the indictment by the Administrative Panel was not enough to prevent him from vying for the office of the President in the 2007 election but the courts did not vitiate the findings of the EFCC.

But Atiku said these claims and charges were trumped up by Obasanjo, el Rufai and Ribadu?
How could el Rufai or Obasanjo have contributed to whatever situation Atiku went through? el Rufai did not ask the US Justice Department or the FBI to investigate him; el Rufai was never a staff of the EFCC and neither was he a staff of Federal Ministry of Justice and so could not have been involved whatsoever in the investigation of Atiku. Why then does he take so much pleasure in pointing fingers at el Rufai?

Interestingly, Atiku also enjoys talking about how he galvanised both el Rufai and Ribadu to public service prominence. That is another area that I must use the opportunity of this interview to clarify. Atiku did not appoint or influence the appointment of el Rufai as the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) in 1999. He did not also influence the appointment of el Rufai as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory after President Obasanjo won his election for a second term in office in 2003.

In both instances, President Obasanjo considered and appointed el Rufai to these positions purely on merit. So, let this blackmail end once and for all. People tend to forget too easily that el Rufai worked round the clock to actualise the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua presidency in 2007 but when he saw early enough that the administration was not keen on building on the legacies of Obasanjo, he spoke out and this did not go down well with Yar’Adua and members of his inner caucus.

El Rufai became public enemy number one and was eventually hounded into exile. Truth is, under the Yar’Adua presidency, el Rufai became the most investigated Nigerian alive. Similarly, el Rufai joined other fair-minded and patriotic Nigerians through the Save Nigeria Group, to make the National Assembly confirm Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the Acting President of Nigeria when it was clear that the health of the late Yar’Adua had become imperilled.
Dr. Jonathan was confirmed Acting President and eventually became the substantive President in 2011 after winning the election. Jonathan deviated from the path of honour and el Rufai promptly spoke out but was equally branded an enemy by the Jonathan administration. Let it be known that el Rufai is wired by Almighty Allah to resist unwholesomeness in its entire ramification.

It is about time Atiku and others like him came to terms with the fact that service to the nation should not always be about personal interests but about the wellbeing of Nigeria, particularly the urgency of reworking our nation not just for this generation but also for generations yet unborn. The nation has deservedly turned a new leaf.
May 29th 2015 Nigeria changed for good, bidding final farewell to corrupt, insensitive and self-serving leaderships, particularly at the federal level. Yes, it is true that our dear country under the incorruptible President Muhammadu Buhari may be going through rough patches occasioned largely by the corruption and ineptitude of previous leaderships; the real bad news however is that persons who brought the nation to this sorry pass are now capitalizing on the current, albeit temporary, downturn in our economy, to manipulate the citizenry – nudging us to return to our vomit. God forbid!

Can someone offer what he does not have or own? El Rufai could not have offered Atiku shares in Transcorp because he never had any to offer. The former vice president is well aware of the facts but it is very convenient for him to manipulate the public given our penchant to be gullible sometimes…He has obviously kicked off his 2019 presidential campaign and Atiku regards el Rufai as a rival of sorts