The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has called on the appropriate authorities to urgently institute a probe to unravel those he said may be hidden faces behind the new ownership structure of multi billion naira telecoms giant, Etisalat (now 9mobile) Nigeria as well as Keystone Bank.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday and signed by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, the former vice president said such a probe was necessary in view of reports that members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s family now own substantial shares in Etisalat (9mobile) Nigeria which has an estimated $2b (about N727b at 360 per dollar) of its estimated $20b global net worth.
Atiku also expressed shock at reports from what he described as unimpeachable sources that the first family now plays big in the nation’s financial sector after acquiring mouthwatering shares in Keystone Bank with total assets of $1.916b (equivalent to N307.5b) as well as purchasing about N3b worth of shares in the new Pakistani Islamic Bank.
He said, “I know that last week was turbulent for President Buhari and I apologise for adding to his woes, but as he is insistent on the myth that he is spotless and anti-corrupt, if this is found to be true, this scandal would break every rule of corporate and public governance, since this will be the first time members of the first family will be openly involved in a once-in-a-lifetime deal that would make them all richer beyond their wildest dreams.”
Atiku added that the accusation was coming amidst reported allegations in the media that the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government plans to use billions of naira from the Anchor Borrowers Programme allocated by the Central Bank of Nigeria for farmers, using imaginary donations from 12 million farmers as a façade.
The presidential candidate of the PDP advised President Buhari to shun the use of state resources and machinery for the upcoming 2019 presidential poll.
Specifically, Atiku said no farmer contributed any N1.7b for Buhari’s re-election campaign, warning that the APC’s decision to use monies meant for farmers “to run his campaign is not tidy at all.”
He added, “The other day, a man who scored 15,424,921 votes to win the 2015 general election was reported to have been nominated by 14 million APC members at the presidential primaries for 2019.
“Now, over 12 million farmers have donated to his campaign. Are they indirectly spewing out outrageous figures of people they intend to claim voted for them in the coming elections?
“Does it mean that the President has jettisoned the idea of a free and fair election and telling Nigerians that no matter how they vote, he will return for a second term of four years?
“In any case, if the farmers who just took a loan through the Borrowers Anchor programme and have not liquidated the facility can donate this huge sum or any sum for that matter, it means the ‘Association of widows’ and children of all those slain by Boko Haram and herdsmen will donate N5b to the Buhari campaign.
“In fact, the 23.1 million youths who lost their jobs between 2016 till date will donate about N12b to the Buhari campaign.
“Assuming but not even conceding that such a huge sum of money was donated to President Buhari by Nigerian farmers as his handlers would want Nigerians to believe, wouldn’t such donation be in contravention of Section 91(9) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which says no individual or other entity shall donate more than N1m to an aspirant or a candidate.”
He said if President Buhari wants to run for office next year, he should take only from monies sourced from donations by his campaign groups that are independent of government.
“Anything short of that – as is currently the case with the use of funds from the CBN meant for farmers – will mean there will be no level playing field for all the candidates billed to contest the presidency during next year’s presidential elections,’’ Atiku said.
But reacting, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said Atiku had started exhibiting early signs of depression, resulting from obvious frustration.
In a statement made available on Wednesday, Issa-Onilu challenged Atiku to tell Nigerians why a discredited person like him should be elected as President instead of raising puerile allegations on a daily basis.
“President Buhari and APC, not his programmes for the country, appear to be his main campaign issues. Nigerians are desirous of campaign that focuses on issues that matter to them. For Atiku and his PDP co-travellers, the only interest is to grab power and continue where they stopped in their avarice.
“The APC administration is eager to showcase the impressive achievements we have recorded in the last three and a half years. This is the campaign that matters to us and this is what Nigerians are interested in. The trajectory is exciting as we see a brighter future shaping up.
The statement added, “We won’t yield to the PDP’s shenanigans. We will not play the PDP’s game. PDP is acting an anti-people’s script. President Buhari remains unshaken by the desperate efforts being made by Atiku and the PDP to blackmail the APC government. Everyone who was involved in corrupt practices would be brought to justice.
“PDP is not offering any alternative to the progressive course this government is pursuing. It is actually apparent that the party is not contesting the 2019 elections to redeem itself, least of doing any good for the country, but simply to seize power to escape justice for the grevious crimes committed against the people of this country.
Nigerians won’t be fooled by the rapacious PDP gang. Never.”