Connecting the Dots in the Atiku Corruption Hoax

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GUEST COLUMNIST: MAGNUS ONYIBE

There is the hoax that the People Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate and former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar was wanted in the USA for money laundering charges hence he could not visit that country also constituted itself into a dark cloud on the political horizon and therefore a distraction as well as a campaign dampener.

But the motive behind the lie that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was banned from visiting the USA on account of corruption charges was before now,foggy.Not a scintilla of fact to support the allegation except that the pdp presidential candidate was investigated as it is routinely done in the USA when large sums of funds are tracked after the terrorist bombing of iconic structures/institutions in New York and Washington,USA now infamously referred to as 9/11.

The source of the rumour against Atiku remained unknown until the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, weighed in last week and inadvertently removed the veil by whining about the USA embassy’s move to issue the PDP presidential candidate a visiting visa.

Following the complaint by the minister, it became manifest that the rumor was political as it would appear that the govt in power does not fancy the rumor being dispelled.

According to him, granting Atiku a visa would create the impression that the USA was endorsing the PDP presidential candidate.

What manner of minister would be dissuading another country from granting a compatriot a visiting visa? It could have been justified if the victim were to be a felon or fugitive, but a former no 2 citizen which no court of law has indicted or convicted. By maligning and stigmatizing a fellow citizen simply because he is a presidential flag-bearer of an opposition party in a political contest, if you ask me, is cruel, distasteful and inelegant.

Such a negative predilection reflects desperation and hypocrisy on the part of the ruling party because only a few months ago, President Buhari was hosted by president Donald Trump in the White House, the USA seat of power.

Assuming Mohammed’s line of argument is to be adopted , did that visit by President Buhari not also suggest an endorsement by the USA president which is obviously disadvantageous to other candidates and parties ?

But other presidential candidates recognized that they were handicapped by Nigerian president’s visit to the USA but they appreciate that it is part of the benefits of power of incumbency, so there was no need to gripe about it.
But our minister of information deemed it necessary to publicly throw a tantrum over the proposed granting of USA visa to the pdp presidential candidate which would end the speculation and spread of a wicked lie that he is barred from that country.

That’s after our president basked in the glory of the fact that he was the first African President to be hosted by president Trump?

Ideally, since it was an opportunity to debunk the wicked lie against the Waziri Adamawa, the PDP flag bearer that he was not welcome in the USA, Mohammed could have applauded the the embassy. But owing to the fact that he is used to playing partisan politics, he railed against the idea because the embassy’s decision effectively exposed the lie from the pit of hell concocted to handicap the PDP presidential candidate.

Ideally, in a world where equity and fairness are the most prevalent values or currency, the aphorism ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’ would be expected.

But in the world of jungle politics, where the Machiavellian principle of the end justifies the means takes precedence, the nihilist mantra ‘black mail is a legitimate weapon of war’ is holding sway.

However, at least for now, the proverbial log seem to have been removed from the eyes of Nigerians who had been hoodwinked by craftily packed fake news that the PDP candidate is corrupt hence he could not visit the USA.

With the USA embassy offering to grant Atiku visa , the whole world now know that the claim of criminal culpability in the USA is pure falsehood spun by villains from the deepest recesses of the devil’s chambers .

Obviously, the patently selfish and jaundiced case that the minister was trying to make with that complaint against the USA embassy is reminiscent of the gaffe that he recently made when he reportedly claimed that the federal govt was on monthly basis spending N3.5m to feed the Shiite cleric, El Zakzaky and his wife currently being detained for nearly three years by the federal govt on allegation of breach of public peace in kaduna. If politicians claim that politics is war without guns, and blackmail is a legitimate weapon, who are the main victims of the blackmail? Isn’t it the electorate that would be deceived and hoodwinked by the lies and as such are unable to make the wise decision of electing the correct candidates?

To correct the foregoing unacceptable past bad behavior , let’s resolve to take election 2019 to the next level by drastically reducing , if not eliminating lies as the main currency of our politics.

To achieve that objective in these last few weeks and days to the elections, establishing fact checking agencies to separate facts from fiction in the manner that credit bureaus were licensed by the central bank of Nigeria, CBN to track bad debtors, would help introduce sanity into the system. Fact checking and public debate are integral part of USA Democracy from where we adopted the presidential system of governance,so it would be a natural progression for us to adopt those practices in Nigeria.

The non governmental agencies, NGOs which have been engaging in the advocacy of enlightening Nigerians on their civic responsibilities via voter education, should take up that responsibility in partnership with the media industry.

We can’t forget how after taking over the reins of governance in 2015, the current ruling party debunked at least 90% of the promises attributed to it during the run up to the 2015 election.

For instance, was it possible to make Nigerian currency, the naira equal to one dollar when the country is just a mono product (crude oil/gas ) exporter to earn foreign exchange? Compare that single product oil/gas which Nigeria has no control over its price to the USA which has a basket full of products exported to the world to earn foreign exchange and you can see how wool was pulled over the eyes of the electorate by the opposition party in 2015.

The foreign exchange earning products and services from the USA range from movies produced in Hollywood, hi-tech goods from Silicon valley such as Apple, google, Amazon, among others and industrial equipment by GE and Caterpillar to mention just a few in high demand globally.

Given that Nigeria was just a member of OPEC and has no control over international price of crude oil, would it have been possible for local fuel pump price in Nigeria to be reduced to N45? Could fuel subsidy have been eliminated when there was abysmally low local refining capacity in Nigeria ? And given their it would take at least 36 months (see how long it is taking Dangote to build the Lekki one) to set up a refinery, was that promise redeemable?

Those are just three of the baits thrown to the electorate by then opposition party, APC while campaigning for office in 2015 and which was swallowed hook, line and sinker by voters.
Issues of who will and how can the ruling and main opposition candidate serve Nigerians better should take the front burner.

The debate about which party or individuals policies would serve the masses better and the fidelity of the promises should now be ongoing in the blogosphere, beer parlors, hair barbing salons, taxis, motors parks, market places and indeed places of worship like churches and mosques as well in our work places.
We must dissect the candidates and their policies.

As l humbly noted in one of my articles titled “Fool Me Once Shame On You, Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me” widely published both online and on mainstream media platforms, it would be shameful if in the forth coming 2019 general elections, Nigerians allow themselves to be fooled twice.

•Magnus onyibe, a development strategist, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts university, Massachusetts, USA and a former commissioner in Delta state government sent this piece from Abuja