Atiku Contributed to the Success of APC in 2015, Aide Insists

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•  Freed Chibok girls not forced to attend AUN, says ex-VP

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The Media Office of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who has come under heavy criticism by some members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for saying he had been sidelined by the party and the President Muhammadu Buhari administration despite contributing to its success in the 2015 elections, has maintained that he (Atiku) contributed to the party’s victory in the presidential election.

Atiku and the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Aisha Alhassan, have rocked the boat of the party  recently, with the latter stating that her loyalty lay with the former vice-president who she said she would support should he contest for the presidency in 2019.

However, in a statement by Atiku’s media aide, Paul Ibe, the media office said it was a distortion of facts to claim that the former vice-president did not contribute to APC’s victory in the 2015 election.

According to the statement, “It is a distortion of facts for anyone to lay claim that Atiku did not contribute to the success of the APC success at the presidential election.

“That is not true. It is the alternative fact that is being contrived to suit the needs of the time by those who do not wish the ruling party and democracy well.

“Atiku before, during and after the presidential election contributed his time, energy, resources, ideas and counsel to the success of the ruling party at the 2015 presidential election.

“Even the person laying claim to that is not in a position to know what transpired (in a campaign in which I was a Deputy Director of the Media and Publicity Directorate) since he was not a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, the highest organ of the campaign that had as members President Muhammdadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, among several others.

“The Atiku media office was part of the campaign. The president acknowledged the fantastic work that the Directorate of Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign did.

“Atiku continues to seek the success of the Buhari administration for the good of Nigeria, the ruling APC and democracy.”

Also, the former vice-president, who is the founder of the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Group of Schools, has expressed shock at what he described as an attempt to exploit young Chibok girls’ trauma to score cheap political points.

While responding yesterday to a story by an online medium, in which it was alleged that one of the freed Chibok girls attempted suicide because she was being forced to attend ABTI School, founded by Atiku, Ibe dismissed the story as false.

“Atiku is not aware that anyone is forced to attend ABTI schools. The story is contrived hogwash. He urges the media, a critical partner in our march to progress and development, to remember that not everything is about 2019,” he said.

The statement by Ibe further said: “I wish to stress that the intention of the Waziri Adamawa was to give the freed Chibok girls (just like he did to an earlier batch in 2014) the best education, and that was why he helped set up the foundation programme to create such an opportunity in a familiar environment.

“Unfortunately, the best intentions can backfire. These girls are still healing, and clearly, the recent deterioration of the security situation in the North-east has opened old wounds.

“The Waziri Adamawa prays that those who have suffered so much get all the treatment and support they need and urgently calls on the federal government to honour its promise to make Nigerians feel safe again.”

Aisha Alhassan Denies Accusing El-Rufai

Meanwhile, Alhassan said yesterday that the statement attributed to her on the involvement of Nasir el-Rufai, Kaduna State governor, in the kidnap of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014, was false.

Dantsoho Suleiman, Alhassan’s spokesman, in a statement, said the comment was a “plot to cause bad blood between Senator Jummai and her APC colleagues”.

The minister has of late been in the news for her endorsement of Abubakar Atiku, former vice-president, for the presidency in 2019.

Reacting, el-Rufai had said supporters of Buhari had opposed his choice of Alhassan as a minister as “she was never in the Buhari camp”, reported news website, The Cable.

To counter the online chatter that she made accusations against the governor, the statement read: “The current APC government under President Buhari inherited a series of problems from the past administration, the kidnap of the Chibok girls by the dreaded Boko Haram happens to be one of them and President Buhari and our military have been able to rescue some of them and checked Boko Haram’s excesses.

“Senator Jummai is not in possession of any security report and therefore will never have made the statement allegedly made by her against the person of governor el-Rufai.

“Boko Haram kidnapped many others, including women and children apart from the Chibok girls. And this government has been able to rescue most of them.

“The plot to cause bad blood between Senator Jummai and her APC colleagues will continue to hit a brick wall.”

Alhassan also has accused Femi-Fani Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation and member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), of peddling “falsehood, lies and propaganda” over the statement attributed to her.

Fani-Kayode, on Twitter, asked Alhassan to disclose all she knew about the governor’s role in the “Chibok girls scam and Boko Haram”.

But Alhassan denied the statement in a reply tweet to Kayode, saying “it is demeaning of your person to deliberately engage in peddling falsehood”.

However, in a quick reply, Fani-Kayode called on the minister, also known as “Mama Taraba”, not to allow herself to be intimidated and continue to speak the truth.

He said: “Mama Taraba should continue to stand on the platform of truth and not allow herself to be intimidated. I reacted to a story in which she allegedly exposed Nasir el-Rufai.

“It took her 24 hours to deny the story and I wonder why it took so long. If the story is not true she should blame the original source, medium and author of the allegation and not me.

“I merely reacted to it like millions of other Nigerians did. She should clean up her stinking mess and not blame me for it.

“I guess that it is also not true that her associates in the APC government have alleged that N12 million went missing under her watch as minister and that she now supports Abubakar Atiku against her own boss.

“She should stand firm and stop blowing hot and cold. You cannot serve God and the devil at the same time. I repeat she should clean up her stinking mess and understand that I am not a soft or easy target.

“Whichever way the APC sun is still setting. My advice to her is to stop getting her pretty knickers in a twist, to tow the path of honor, to resign from this accursed government and to leave the APC before they strip her stark naked and feed her to the dogs.”