By Churchil Okonkwo
You are a symbol of the past failures and the politically corrupt in Nigeria. With all due respect, therefore, I, on behalf of millions of Nigerians want to remind you that you should shut up when we are discussing anti-corruption challenges and the way forward.
I laughed cynically when I heard you brag that you would “shock everyone because you will fight corruption …if given the opportunity to preside over the affairs of the country.” You challenged Nigerians to either “come forward with a single shred of evidence of [your] misconduct while in office or keep quiet.” Crude arrogance! You subsequently bragged that your stupendous wealth was a result of your “resourcefulness and successful investments.”
What a lie! To use your own words, that display of arrogance was “morally offensive” to millions of Nigerians. Please, sir, accept my apologies, but the issue is not about your “entrepreneurial spirit” but whether you can corroborate the SOURCE of your investments and wealth. Sir, you are not more resourceful than millions of Nigerians, and thousands of investors with hard-earned and traceable source of wealth. So, sir, take your sermon of rooting out corruption in Nigeria to the sedimentary rocks in the valley of Adamawa Highlands.
As a show of good faith, sir, can you please explain to Nigerians how a retired Customs officer and VP, you, got the millions of Dollars, without a bank loan, you paid to the American University in Washington DC for a direct license to use the franchise of the university? We know that your estimated $25 million worth of University (ABTI American University) in Yola was not just because you were resourceful.
What is the source of the inexplicable reason for your increased wealth after 8 years as VP? Accept my apologies sir, but can you explain to Nigerians the source of hundreds of multi-million Naira mansions, mostly built on what Nigerians believe to be proceeds of corruption? What of the $125m you diverted from the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF)? Can you please, sir; explain to Nigerians how you managed to command controlling shares in Bank PHB, controlling shares in Intel, and oil services companies operating in many African countries?
If you are as smart and intelligent as you want Nigerians to believe, then it will not be difficult to break down the source of your wealth. Believe me, there are millions of Nigerians out there that are more resourceful than you that will be turned into billionaires overnight if only you can show us your magic wand. So, without explaining the source of your wealth, it is an insult to ask us to provide evidence that you are chronically corrupt. The burden of proof is on you, sir.
How can Nigeria move forward, when we are hamstrung by symbols of past failures, like you Atiku? Let me remind those still living in the graveyards of yesteryears of what you sir, represents. Your mere presence in Nigerian politics reminds us of the era of fire-breathing monsters that plundered the national wealth. Sir, your administration with Obasanjo represents a government of the ugly and predators. Under you, and Obasanjo, corruption was so sweet and so exquisite that the political class fell over themselves to worship the mini gods in Aso Rock.
Accept my apologies, sir, but Nigerians have not forgotten that under you and Obasanjo, our yesteryears were locust-infested. When you fought corruption with Obasanjo, we had wretched criminals that grew the size of their stomachs and pockets from “Turn Around Maintenance” of our refineries and under-selling of government entities to cronies. Under you, and Obasanjo, we had ministers and thieves that were busy acquiring properties worth billions while our infrastructures decayed.
Sir, you are a woodpecker that feed on the pantry of the poor, but found a way to avoid having boils in your mouth. The same mouth you are now using to insult us and bragging about how clean you are in amassing wealth in the midst of poverty in your backyard.
Atiku, sir, your ambition, therefore, deserves to be killed now. It is time for you to retire from public life, disappear from Twitter, political screens, and sight somewhere far away. Sir, when you drive around the hills and valleys of Adamawa Highland, are you not worried about the difference between your fortunes and that of the poor masses you represented?
Nigerians believe that corruption is a bigger threat than insecurity in your backyard in Northeastern Nigeria. Fighting corruption in good faith will heal the wounds of millions of Nigerians adversely affected over many decades. Unfortunately, sir, until you explain to us how you amassed your wealth, you are not the right man to lead Nigeria.
The stories surrounding the cancellation, the legality or illegality of the contract between Intels and its subsidiaries with Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) is an indication that your greed is finally catching up with you. For me, that deal is like the rest of the dubious investments you are now flaunting, all of which is a textbook example of how crooked bureaucrats like you amass wealth through cronyism and graft.
So, accept my apologies. You, like your boy the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, represent the dangerously corrupt political elites in Nigeria. As you make an attempt at the Nigerian Presidency for the umpteenth time, know it that your reckless shame has expired. The period from 1999 to 2017 is gone, even though the mess you and Obasanjo left behind is still hunting Nigerians.
Sir, I love you, but, until we begin to challenge serving and former civil servants and public office holders like you that cannot explain how they acquired so much wealth, we cannot really claim to be fighting corruption. Shed some light on the source of every Kobo of your shadowed investments and businesses and shame the people you refer to as “political enemies”.
While I wait for your explanation, know it that I will be the first to raise my hand and campaign for you if you will satisfactorily demonstrate the source of your wealth the way you explain to a 3-year old that 1 + 1 = 2. I say this with as a much respect as I can muster, hoping that you will disgrace me with verifiable proof.
Until you do that, sir, you should shut up and bow your head in shame, if there is still any left, when Nigerians are talking about the serious business of fighting corruption.
You can email Churchill at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi.