To trade trust with Nigerians, Atiku has one major question to answer

By one commenter’s account, the review of Black Panther posted on Atiku Abubakar’s medium profile is an “impressive analysis”, even as it was impressive that the former Vice President graciously took care of the tickets for other people who saw the movie with him at an Abuja cinema.

The Waziri Adamawa has a certain charm that has kept him likeable in the minds of many Nigerians, both young and old. Since departing the executive branch in 2007 and after failing twice to secure a promotion to Commander-in-Chief, Mr Abubakar has remained a force to reckon with in Nigerian politics. The prevailing wisdom is that he will try one last time before the other side of 70 catches up and nothing showed this potential ambition more than his momentous return to the People’s Democratic Party in November 2017, after three years on the periphery of policymaking and executive contribution to the Muhammadu Buhari APC administration.

Tweets and tabloid reports do not tell the whole story, but Atiku appears to be mending fences with his former boss Olusegun Obasanjo who has also been critical of the current presidency. Should he secure a significant rub of Baba’s confidence, a lifelong ambition stretching as far as 1991 with the SDP could finally be achieved by the maritime, oil and gas, and education magnate, and philanthropist.

Which will leave just one hurdle in the way, and it is one which the former VP has been reluctant to fully disclose his part in.

When the now sacked US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, visited Nigeria this month, Atiku made a point of welcoming him to Nigeria, with a mini twitter thread on how “Nigeria and the US must do more to combat extremism and terror”. He highlighted the need for “Stronger Nigeria-US relations” which will boost employment and productivity necessary for a secure future for Nigeria. One would imagine that if he were to become Nigeria’s president, this would be one aspect of policy which he would take seriously, making necessary effort to bring Washington closer to Nigeria by a good case that we are not a sh*thole third world country without salvation from corruption.

The problem with that will be that Mr Abubakar has not travelled to the US in a long time and it has not been due to the cost of tickets. As we were reminded in the past week by a story in PREMIUM TIMES which reported the sale of the former VP’s luxury mansion in an upper scale area in Maryland, Atiku is in the records of the FBI over a 2005 bribery scandal which involved a disgraced former US Congressman, Williams Jefferson. The US anti-graft bureau videotaped Mr Jefferson receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills in a leather briefcase as part payment of a $500,000 bribe allegedly demanded by then Nigeria VP Atiku, to facilitate the award of contracts to two American telecommunication firms in Nigeria. A warrant was received by the FBI to search Atiku’s Maryland home (same now sold) where he and Jefferson allegedly held a meeting to agree terms of a quid pro quo.

Though he has persistently denied any wrongdoing in the affair, the fact that it has required the US authorities to put his visa applications through an “administrative process” since them has become a weapon with which his critics question his credibility and integrity. The move to sell off the Maryland property, listed originally for $3.25m but sold at $2.95m, may be a way of finally burying his association with the scandal and pave the way for fresh investments with less drama.

On April 25, Atiku will speak at Chatham House with the UK Secretary for International Trade on Investment into Nigeria “to help get Nigeria working again”. If that will be a platform for declaring his trade policy aspirations to Nigerians ahead of the polls in twelve months time, there remains a fourteen-year old concern about which he is yet to fully disclose. The case is the uncomfortable patch that will never go away, and as Atiku tweets about encouraging free trade with the US and visiting the UK to talk trade, attention inevitably goes back to Mr Jefferson who was, at the time, a member of the congressional African Trade and Investment caucus.

Call it a mere coincidence but it is a token to Mr Abubakar that hiding skeletons have a way of making creaky sounds when one tries to place new trophies on the same cabinet.

Comments (0)

  1. And again Atiku also highlighted and called for “Stronger Nigeria-US relations” in a small twitter thread, which will boost employment in Nigeria,isn’t this another noteworthy evidence Atiku is not guilty of any Us scandal?

  2. On the issue of his property in the USA the property was voluntarily sold and not a forced sell, because the sell is on pending offer means a buyer and seller of the property have reached a deal. However, a buyer can still pull out from the deal.

    And if there was any issue with the property the sale would not have commenced in the first place and all the taxes are paid consistently for the mansion by Ms Douglas since the day they owned the mansion. And if there is any case with FBI link to him they won’t allowed the sell of property.

  3. It’s a high time for us to pay him what he dedicated to us looking at what he does in our economy, investment, providing job opportunities with a high numbers of employees, humanitarian service to IDP’s.
    It’s Commendable! Someone who buys movie tickets for people and watches movies with them wouldn’t turn his back on his people when he’s voted into office.
    Therefore, ATIKU is far ahead of any contender in the upcoming election of 2019.

  4. The former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar have played a huge roles in contributing in policy making and decision making since the inception of this democratic government right from 1999 to date and not only this time but even during his stay as a custom officer. He has a dream of better Nigeria were a common Nigerian can feel the impact of government and dividend of democracy not only at national level but down to grassroot level.

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