Presidency: Atiku is Distorting Facts, Seyi Tinubu Has Right to Do Legitimate Business

•Says foreign investment in stock market now N93.37bn 

•Knocks ex-VP for alleged bitter politics

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The presidency, yesterday, rebuked former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for attacking President Bola Tinubu and his son, Seyi, over allegations that their business affiliations with the Chagoury Group constituted a conflict of interest.

Special Adviser to the president on Information and Strategy, Mr Bayo Onanuga, who gave the response in a statement, said Atiku had a penchant for packaging fallacy as truth for the public.

Onanuga alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2023 general election made wild claims on a number of issues that needed to be corrected.

He said, contrary to Atiku’s claims that the president’s manners and private interests were hindering foreign investors’ confidence in the Nigerian economy, the administration boasted ample foreign investment attraction, and foreign investment in the country’s stock market grew to N93.37 billion in the first quarter of the year.

Onanuga said Atiku was fast developing a reputation for distorting and manipulating facts for his self-serving objective of discrediting the Tinubu administration.

He stated that the current administration believed every true and patriotic Nigerian, regardless of political differences, should work to promote the unity and economic well-being of the country and not delegitimise genuine efforts of the federal government to encourage local and foreign investments in the economy.

Onanuga stated, “Contrary to Atiku’s claim, the Tinubu administration, within its first year, has attracted over $20 billion into the economy. While President Tinubu was in New Delhi, India, for G20 Summit last year August, Indian business leaders committed over $14 billion in new investments.  A substantial part of this sum is already in the country.

“In an unmistakable vote of confidence in the economic reforms being executed by the Tinubu administration, foreign investment in Nigeria’s stock market has ballooned, from N18.12 billion in Q1 2023 to N93.37 billion in Q1 2024, an increase of 415 per cent.

“The last time Nigeria saw such level of investment was in the first quarter of 2019, when N97.6 billion was invested. The market, since Tinubu came to power, has broken records and created more wealth for the investors.

“During President Tinubu’s recent trip to The Netherlands, the Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, announced a fresh $250 million investment by Dutch businesses in Nigeria.”

In addition, Onanuga said different sectors of the economy, notably telecoms, manufacturing, solid minerals, oil and gas, e-commerce, and fintech, had been attracting new Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from discerning investors, who were convinced that Nigeria was a good market for bountiful returns.

The presidential spokesman also knocked Atiku for accusing Tinubu of conflict of interest in the award of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway contract to Hitech Construction Company, which he alleged was owned by the Chagoury family, because the president’s son, Seyi, sits on the board of CDK, a tiles manufacturing company, based in Sagamu, Ogun State.

Onanuga asserted that Nigerians were accustomed to Atiku’s hypocrisy on many national issues. He said it was amusing that the former vice president, who admitted that he formed Intels Nigeria with an Italian businessman, when he was serving in the Nigeria Customs Service, a clear breach of extant public service regulations, was now the one accusing someone else of conflict of interest.

According to Onanuga, “When he was Vice President of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007, he maintained his business links with Intels that won major port concession deals.

“Was this not an abuse of office, a flagrant violation of his oath, that a company where he was a co-owner won major government contracts and concessions when he was vice president?

“As Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation, he approved sales of over 145 state-owned enterprises to his known friends and associates and openly said during his failed campaign for the presidency last year that he would do the same, if elected.”

Onanuga described Seyi as a 38-year-old adult, who had the right to do business and pursue his business interests in Nigeria and anywhere in the world within the limits of the law. He said the fact that Seyi’s father was the president of Nigeria did not disqualify him from pursuing legitimate business interests.

Onanuga said, “For the records, Seyi joined the Board of Directors of CDK in 2018, more than six years ago. He is representing the interest of an investor company, in which he has interest. He is not a board member because his father is a friend of the Chagourys. 

“Information about owners and shareholders of CDK is a matter of public record that can be openly accessed from the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission and CDK’s.

“Atiku and his proxy did not need a little-known journal to recycle open-source information to make a fallacious argument. The Chairman of CDK and the highest shareholder of the company is respected General TY Danjuma (rtd). The Chagourys are minority shareholders in the company, and only one member of the clan is on its five-man board.

“We wonder how Seyi’s membership of the board of CDK conflicts with Hitech Construction Company’s work on Lagos-Calabar coastal superhighway?”

Onanuga flayed Atiku for bad politics, which he said was the reason for his unrelenting war against the transformative Lagos-Calabar coastal highway and other projects to be unfurled, such as the Badagry-Sokoto superhighway, that would be a major boost for Tinubu and a coffin in the nail for Atiku’s perennial presidential ambition.

He said if not blinded by political ill-will, Atiku ought to have applauded Tinubu for the ambitious and audacious Lagos-Calabar highway, which was authorised by the Federal Executive Council.

Onanuga stressed that infrastructure projects, such as the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway, would galvanise the economy, adding that in the US, President Joe Biden used his $2 trillion bi-partisan infrastructure deal to revamp decaying American infrastructure and inject life into the US economy.

The statement added, “How can an elder-statesman be waging a campaign of calumny against the economic fortunes and prosperity of a country he wishes to govern or trying to scuttle a project that will bring prosperity to nine coastal states and the nation in general?

“That Nigeria’s economy is being reclassified by the IMF as the fourth largest in Africa is stale news. This happened because of the devaluation of the naira and President Tinubu’s determined effort to set the economy on the path of sustainable growth.

“Under the progressive, bold, inventive, and innovative leadership of President Tinubu, Nigeria will bounce back to where it rightfully belongs as Africa’s largest market and biggest economy.”

Onanuga said the Tinubu administration’s audacious target of a $1 trillion economy in the next few years, with bold   economic programmes and critical infrastructure projects in key sectors, was realisable.

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