Nigerians tackle Atiku over claim on oil business

Atiku Abubakar19 February 2014, Lagos – Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has opened up on some of his investments scattered across the continent.

He says he has worked tirelessly  over the years to build the largest oil services company.

He states that his investment portfolio has grown so much that he is not only revolving around oil; he has also diversified into ports development, agriculture, feed making, plastics, printing, TV/radio media, and beverages.

The former number two citizen stated this during a one hour Twitter chat tagged #YNaijaMeetsAtiku in which he fielded questions from Nigerians on the micro-blogging service on Monday evening.

Although he did not mention the name of the oil services company, he says the firm is active in Nigeria and in three other African countries.

He notes that he is “not bothered” by what he describes as “rumours” that he corruptly enriched himself while in office to grow large investments.

He tweets, “We’ve been lucky to build the largest oil services company in Africa – active in Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique and now South Africa. That is how we have about 50,000 jobs on our books. Reports that I’m wanted in the USA for money laundering aren’t true.

“If it were true, I could have been arrested in UK, France, Switzerland, or Dubai, you know. I am not really bothered by rumours. If you research, you will find that the facts are there. I’ve attended interviews in the US Embassy recently.

“They could have arrested me there too. It’s US soil. USA has very good Freedom of Information. So you media people can go do your findings.”

The Turakin Adamawa states that while he was Vice-President, he couldn’t “drive change” and effect fundamental changes in the economy during his eight-year stay in the Presidency.

He claims that he was able to achieve some feats during his first tenure as former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s deputy, but scored himself low in the second term, saying he was not given the needed support to perform optimally.

He adds, “The VP cannot drive change, honestly. A VP executes the President’s agenda as assigned by the President. Really, the VP can only do what the boss asks. I was put in charge of the economy in the first tenure for example.

“Coming in after decades of military rule, Nigeria was in a very bad shape all round. Priorities were decided. My primary job was in the economy. We curbed inflation, sold off bad assets, fixed our debts and consolidated the banks.

“I oversaw the execution of the banking reforms by CBN and supervised the telecoms reforms which brought us GSM. In my second term, for example, at a point, all my staff were withdrawn. So a VP really has no powers except the President allows.”

He accused the Federal Government of not doing enough to quell the insurgency that has ravaged the North -Eastern part of the country.

“As a citizen from the North East, I get the feeling that the crisis is being treated as ’their’ problem. This may not be the case, but it’s important that the FG shows more commitment so that people will have hope for resolution,” he argues.

But just as he speaks highly of his investment portfolio online, some Nigerians accused him of setting up the businesses with proceeds of corruption.

Some of his critics say he should not take his visit to the US Embassy in Nigeria as a proof that he is not wanted for alleged money laundering offences.

They, therefore, dared him to pay a visit to the US as soon as possible.   “The US Embassy is still in Nigeria! Please prove a point by travelling to the United States,” one Yemi Akusebo writes in a tweet to Atiku.

Also, another Twitter user, James asks, “Did you visit the US Embassy in Nigeria? No, we are talking about actually visiting the United States; not its embassy here in Nigeria.”

They also tackled him over his claim that he was not given a free hand to perform optimally and drive change while he served as Vice-President.

His critics query him on why he did not resign honourably when he realised he could not “drive change” as he claimed.

Andy Madaki in a tweet to him writes, “If you were there with no powers, as you say, wouldn’t it have been more honourable to resign? But you didn’t. Why?”

Philip Bob-Jusu also accuses the politician of double standard, saying his statements about his tenure in office were unfounded.  “Actually, I thought Basket Mouth was the only comedian in Nigeria, but Atiku beats him hands down. He is such a joker,” he states.


– The Punch

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