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HomeExecutive BriefAtiku Abubakar's penchant for distorting facts

Atiku Abubakar’s penchant for distorting facts

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By Bayo Onanuga

Former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Candidate in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, is fast developing a reputation for distorting and manipulating facts for his self-serving objective of discrediting the current administration.

In his latest press statement, the defeated PDP presidential candidate made wild claims on a number of issues that need to be corrected so that the public will not be misled into accepting fallacies as the truth.

The President Bola Tinubu-led administration believes that every true and patriotic Nigerian, regardless of political differences, should work to promote the unity and economic well-being of the country and not delegitimize the genuine efforts of the Federal Government to encourage local and foreign investments in the economy.

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 the G20 Summit last 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%.

The last time Nigeria saw such a 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 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.

Different sectors of the economy, especially telecoms, manufacturing, solid minerals, oil and gas, e-commerce, and fintech, are attracting new foreign direct investments from discerning investors who know Nigeria is a good market for bountiful returns.

We found it strange that Alhaji Atiku could accuse President Tinubu of conflict of interest in the award of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway to Hitech Construction Company, which he claimed is owned by the Chagoury family, because the President’s son, Seyi Tinubu, sits on the board of CDK, a tile manufacturing company based in Sagamu, Ogun State.

Nigerians should, by now, be well accustomed to Atiku’s hypocrisy on many national issues. Is it not amusing that the former Vice President, a man who openly said 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, is now the one accusing someone else of conflict of interest?

When he was Vice President of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007, he maintained his business links with Intel, which 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.

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It is important to state clearly that Seyi Tinubu is a 38-year-old adult who has a right to do business and pursue his business interests in Nigeria and anywhere in the world within the limits of the law. The fact that his father is now the President of Nigeria does not disqualify Seyi from pursuing legitimate business interests.

For the record, 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 the 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 TY Danjuma. 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 on the board of CDK conflicts with Hitech Construction Company’s work on the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Superhighway.

Alhaji Atiku has been waging an unrelenting war against this all-important and transformative project for no justifiable reasons other than bad politics.

Atiku knows that its grand success and other projects to be unfurled, such as the Badagry-Sokoto superhighway, will be a major boost for President Tinubu and finally upend his perennial presidential ambition.

If not blinded by political ill-will, Alhaji Atiku knows that the right thing for him to do is to applaud President Tinubu for the ambitious and audacious Lagos-Calabar Highway, which was authorised by the Federal Executive Council.

It is important to remind Alhaji Atiku that infrastructural projects such as the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway are used to galvanise the economy. In the US, President Joe Biden has used his $2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal to revamp decaying American infrastructure and inject life into the US economy.

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.

The Tinubu administration targets a $1 trillion economy in the next few years, with audacious economic programmes and critical infrastructure projects in key sectors.

With revenue rising in trillions and the creation of the Renewed Hope Infrastructure Fund, which is poised to raise over N20 trillion this year alone, we have no doubt that the $1 trillion economy is realisable.

  • Bayo Onanuga is Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy 

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