By Maiwada Dammallam
Few days ago, a whistleblower cum former media aide to PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, one Michael Achimugu hit the airwaves with damning revelations (complete with video and audio clips) suggestive of Mr. Abubakar’s involvement in floating some companies together with his then boss, former President Obasanjo, for the dishonorable purpose of illegally fleecing the country through the back door to raise funds for their party, the PDP, and possibly for funding the extra-legit and quasi-legit affairs of both the administration and the party.
Expectedly, Achimugu’s revelations raised lots of dust among Nigerians except among PDP pundits and Mr. Abubakar’s foot soldiers. The smartest among this crowd kept clear of the allegations with more respect they did Covid-19, obviously observing the rules set by Achimugu to enhance the quality and longevity of the matter. He warned at the onset that any smear campaign, physical attack or baseless allegations against him or his family will be responded to with more damning revelations on Mr. Abubakar.
Somehow, the dumbest of the lot, Dino Melaye, refused to heed Achimugu’s warning and went to town disclaiming Achimugu as an imposter unknown to Atiku, conveniently giving the whistleblower a chance to walk his talk and assert his authority as the referee of the game. He released another deadly shot which came along with a court affidavit meant to authenticate his status and allegations. As they say, even the dumb knows when dumbness is not an option. By the way, who says smartness comes only with hard work and perseverance? Dino has disproved that social law. Moments after Achimugu’s second episode, Dino developed instant smartness and went cold. And as if waving a symbolic flag of peace, the prolific social media entertainer he is, he’s yet to appear dancing on Instagram or Tik-tok as he usually does with each conquest of the next level idiocy in his diary as a response to Achimugu’s.
Back to the main theme. That Achimugu could subdue and silenced local talents like Dino Melaye and overwhelm sophisticated image manufacturers like Daniel Bwala says all needed to be said to highlight the substance and credibility of Achimugu’s bombshell. That neither PDP nor Atiku are making the usual threats to sue Achimugu for libel, says with finality how uncontrollably embarrassing the revelations were to them and how disinterested in prolonging the matter they are — a sort of letting a sleeping dog sleep and snore kind of safe response to a dangerously tricky situation.
The case as revealed by Achimugu says all the reasons why Mr. Abubakar should not be trusted with Nigeria. The revelation reminds of an old anecdote about Mr. Abubakar’s Fulani clansman traveling to Lagos in a lorry. A small car overtook the lorry with dizzying speed and the Fulani man was like, “If this car could run this fast barely out of pampers, how fast could it run when it becomes a lorry like this?” Of course, it’s a coincident that Mr. Abubakar is “Fulani” but the anecdote should raise the question, if, as Vice President, Mr. Abubakar could propose, plan and execute opening proxy companies — “Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) in his words — to fleece Nigeria, wouldn’t he reduce the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to somewhat a personal piggy bank when and if becomes President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
With Achimugu’s audio clips, sworn affidavit and direct oral evidence as to how Alhaji Atiku Abubakar allegedly colluded with Obasanjo, to fleece the country and steal public funds using SPVs, it will be overly daft to assume he’s cured and will sin no more especially without yet confessing his past sins even when encouraged by ironclad proofs put on the table by Achimugu.
And when I watched some sponsored “image dry-cleaners” putting to use the “innocent until proven guilty” balderdash being used by politicians to suffocate Nigeria’s judicial system, to buy Mr. Abubakar time to sail through election period without the distraction of attending courts on corruption charges, I laughed at the unimaginative display of stunted intellection. Of course, it should be clear to a kindergarten class that “Achimugu vs Atiku Abubakar” is more a case for a court of public opinion than a judicial court. Mr. Abubakar may never be prosecuted much less go to jail for shortchanging Nigeria. After all, how many Nigerians of lesser influence and weaker financial muscles are in prison for corruption to raise hope for his successful prosecution and conviction? But that’s not enough to stop jurors of the court of public opinion to pass the verdict of guilt that could seal the fate of his presidential ambition to effectively protect the Nigerian treasury from being fleeced without a trace through the convenience of SPVs.
This is saying, PDP/Atiku should be more worried with events in the court of public opinion than those being proposed for courtrooms. And this is my concern too. This is 21st century Nigeria and, low opinions of Nigeria and all, electing a presidential candidate with such a heavy baggage is not part of the upgraded political make-up of Nigerians. Nigerians are now smarter than to entrust a hyena with welfare of a gazelle and they need no judicial court to remind them so.
That this is coming at the tail end of President Buhari’s administration gives an excellent opportunity to both the administration and advocates of good governance to walk their talks by expressing the deepest of resentments against corruption using this unfortunate aberration. Forget noises about Mr. Abubakar’s untouchability or unfounded fears of sanctions by the international community should be be subjected to investigations and possible possible. The international community could not be caveating grants and donations to Nigeria on the basis of the sanity of Nigerian system and still be a sanctuary for corrupt leaders and aspiring leaders, could they?
In any case, with a US Congressman, William Jefferson, already jailed for corruption and linked to Mr. Abubakar, it could be said he (Mr. Abubakar) is no stranger to the international community (read, USA) and it’s highly unlikely Uncle Sam will send battle ships to stop the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Abubakar if there are justifiable reasons to do so. Unless we will disagree that Achimugu’s revelations are not justifiable enough to question the integrity and credibility of Mr. Abubakar as a presidential candidate, then we have to agree he is totally on his own and must face his past demons alone.
I expect calls from Nigerians to the Federal Government to forensically investigate Achimugu’s allegations before elections in few weeks. Nigeria cannot afford to lock the door with a thief already inside the room. Not at this time anyway.