By Oladipupo Awojobi
The New Agenda for Positive Change, a civil society organisation, has berated the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for reportedly holding a strategy session with over 400 members of his team in Dubai, UAE.
The Dubai meeting allegedly had in attendance, Atiku’s running mate, Peter Obi and Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Also in the meeting were ex-Ogun Governor, Gbenga Daniel; ex-aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri; Bayelsa East Senator, Ben Bruce; among several others.
Reacting, however, the group said that the development was a sad reminder of Atiku’s extravagant lifestyle, elitist mindset to governance which his years out of government had made Nigerians to forget.
Raymond Clarke Amuna, President of the group, said the development was an indication of his dangerous tendency to hand Nigeria over to foreign interests, with Dubai being his latest preference.
Amuna in the statement challenged the PDP candidate to explain to Nigerians how he intends to run a domestic-oriented economy for the masses with the kind of lavish lifestyle of taking his strategy team with over 400 members to Dubai.
According to him, “Each time Atiku Abubakar considers slinking to Dubai he should be mindful of how the opulence of the desert city warps his sense of proprietary.
“He has never returned from his Dubai trips lucid enough to accept the reality in Nigeria possibly because his guilty conscience pricks him to know that the PDP could have done better for Nigeria in its 16 years of misrule.
“There are various exotic venues in Nigeria that he could have used and have members of his team spend money to boost the local economy but he decided to expend his N20 million annual income in ferrying Peter Obi, Secondus and other in his circus to Dubai for the strategy session. It is therefore not surprising that his team issued the statement castigating the government for planning to use the proceeds of privatization to fund the national budget.
“The first thing of note is that Atiku Abubakar, a onetime Vice President (1999 to 2007) and by default the Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the time, was the originator of privatization or in layman’s term selling government owned enterprises, businesses and assets. It was under him that the chant of “government has no business in business” or “government is incapable of managing businesses” first gained ground and have remained a part of our collective psyche today.
“Secondly, Atiku Abubakar spoke from experience. He is not sure that the national assets in question would be allocated to him and his cronies as it was done under his watch when he held sway over the privatization of most of the country’s assets,” he said in the statement.