Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has told President Muhammadu Buhari not to blame the Nigerian system for his failure to fight corruption, but himself.
The president had on Tuesday blamed his inability to fight corruption on the Nigerian system, when the members of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) community paid him homage.
But in his reaction, Atiku said that the problem with Buhari’s anti-corruption war is not the system, but the president himself.
According to him, “My immediate response to this is to commend President Buhari for admitting that he has failed in fighting corruption. The president has just corroborated Transparency International, whose latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) shows that Nigeria is more corrupt today than it was under the previous administration, having moved 12 places backwards in the CPI, from 136 in 2014 to 148 this year.”
The former vice-president stressed that nothing in the system stops Buhari from telling Nigerians who owns the billions found in an Ikoyi apartment.
Atiku noted that while he was the vice-president between 1999 and 2007, the same system was used to speedily convict no less a personality than an Inspector General of Police (IG), and several others, including cabinet ministers and other high ranking officials.
Atiku stated: “But my point of departure from the president is in blaming his failure on the system. I disagree. The system has challenges, yes, but where there is political will, the system can make progress.
“Mr. President, the problem with your anti-corruption war is not the system. You are the problem!
“The system allows you to arrest, try and convict your former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, who was fingered in a major corruption case, but you chose to let him go scot free and you demonstrated your tolerance for his corruption by giving him a prominent role in your re-election campaign and recently welcomed him to the Presidential Villa with open arms.
“The system allowed you to arrest, try and convict Abdulrasheed Maina, the biggest ever alleged thief in our civil service history, who is suspected of looting the pensions of millions of aged Nigerians. Yet, you chose not to go that route, preferring instead to recall him, reinstate and double promote him while giving him armed guards to move about.
“The system allows you to probe the $25 billion NNPC contracts awarded without due process, but you chose to bury the matter under the carpet, hoping the Nigerian people will forget about that grand scale alleged looting exposed by a leaked memo from a member of your cabinet.”
Atiku stated that based on the above statement of facts, he would not allow Buhari to make Nigeria the scapegoat for his failure, adding: “Your failure is personal, and not national.”
He stressed that the system did not stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from charging the opposition Governor of Akwa-Ibom, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, as a co-accused in the case involving the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Chairman, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), which is in a sharp contrast to the treatment meted out to Governor Umar Ganduje of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
Atiku asserted: “If you could go abroad to insult Nigerian youths as lazy, why did you go to Paris to praise a governor who was caught red-handed receiving bribes on camera?
“Besides, your excuse is deceptive, because you have staunchly resisted restructuring. If you really believed that the system is the problem, you would have embraced restructuring.
“Unfortunate as your admitted failure in the war on corruption is, it is your economic policy that is the greater failure. Your lack of ideas and your politicisation of the corruption war has made your administration fight legitimate businesses and the opposition.”
The former vice-president said that it was such actions that have led to an unprecedented capital flight which caused joblessness and made Nigeria the world headquarters for extreme poverty under Buhari’s watch.