*Asks Ex-VP To Cure Himself Of Corruption Before Curing Nigeria
*Sagay Suffering From Senility, Nobody Takes Him Seriously Any Longer — Atiku
Temidayo Akinsuyi, Lagos
As the battle for 2019 presidential election intensifies, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate, on Tuesday traded words over key issues that would dominate the contest such as restructuring, anti-corruption war, and job creation.
Speaking in an interview with Daily Independent on Tuesday, Sagay described Atiku’s statement that he would restructure Nigeria within six months if elected president as a mere campaign ploy to get the votes of Nigerians.
According to Sagay, during his eight years as vice president in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku never made mention of restructuring but supported Obasanjo who was very hostile to pro-restructuring elements in the country.
Sagay said, “On the claim by Atiku that he will restructure Nigeria within six months, I think Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has answered that question.
“Atiku was in power for eight years with Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo is the most hostile person in the whole world to restructuring. His opposition to restructuring was simply unbelievable and Atiku was with him as second-in-command.
“Throughout this period, Atiku never expressed any unhappiness or displeasure about it. Jointly, they totally discouraged and stamped out any idea on restructuring.
“But Atiku is a smart man. Seeing that the South-South, South-East and some minorities in the South-West are now using restructuring as a battle cry, he now wants to harness it as a campaign programme so as to get support and votes. He is obviously not sincere. It is just a campaign ploy and Nigerians can see through the deceit”.
On the claim by Atiku that he would fight corruption with more vigour than President Muhammadu Buhari, Sagay said Atiku had no moral right to talk about fighting corruption because he himself was allegedly corrupt.
While asking Atiku to purge himself of corruption first before extending it to the country, Sagay described Atiku as a comedian who shouldn’t be taken seriously by Nigerians, and challenged him to travel to the United States if indeed he had no corruption case hanging on his neck.
“Number two, on the issue of corruption, he said he will fight it with more vigour than the current administration.
“How can he do that? Won’t the doctor cure himself first before curing others? Why is Atiku afraid of going to the United States?
“What of the money he is making from our ports and other facilities? How did he get to be in that position? How did he become a monopolist of everything in our ports making billions of dollars?
“Atiku is paying N10 million tax, probably he is the next richest man to Aliko Dangote in this country. Yet everybody is keeping quiet. I am surprised that nobody is saying anything about it. Is that not corruption?
“For a man of his immense wealth, who is a dollar billionaire because most of the ports in this country and some number of other things are controlled by Intels, his company.
“The whole idea of N10 million as tax doesn’t show any difference between Atiku and myself in terms of tax payment.
“So, to me that is corruption. Atiku does not have the moral authority to fight corruption. All these talk about fighting corruption is just campaign ploy.”
“We want to know how many billions of dollars Atiku is making from our ports.
Hadiza Bala Usman, the NPA MD is fighting it right now. That is a big fight on her hands now, to try and remove the monopoly and strangleholds Atiku has on our ports so that other companies can have a chance to compete, earn money for themselves and the company. Atiku’s Intels is so monopolistic in our ports now.
“He also said he has created more jobs. Has he created jobs more than Dangote? He is a comedian. Nigerians should just forget about him.”
However, responding to Sagay’s claims, Segun Sowunmi, the Spokesperson for the Atiku Campaign Organisation, said Nigerians no longer take Sagay seriously because, as he puts it, senility was creeping into the senior advocate.
Sowunmi, who spoke for the Atiku Campaign Organisation, asked Sagay to stop what he described as “embarrassing, Unclad dance in public space”.
Sowunmi said, contrary to Sagay’s claim that Atiku never mentioned restructuring throughout his eight years as vice president, he said Atiku had been advocating a restructured Nigeria even before the return of democratic government to the country in 1999.
“It is only Prof. Itse Sagay that is not aware that the generality of Nigerians no longer take him seriously nor believe anything he says.
“He has demonstrated that over the last couple of years that perhaps, age has caught up with him and he is now beginning to appear senile.
“It is only a senile mind that can say that an Atiku Abubakar who has been advocating restructuring for as long as anybody can remember, even as far back as 1995, is not serious about restructuring.
“Atiku has been very consistent on the need for us to restructure Nigeria and his positions and ideas on how to go about restructuring are there in the public space.
“One of them is that Atiku believes that we should now begin to look at the concurrent list of the Federal Government and whatever we can push to the states so that they can have more control over their resources which should be given to them through an Executive Order.
“Atiku has also been very clear that it is time for Nigeria to accept the idea of a multi-layer policing structure and put a framework in place where areas that need to create police around their communities, local, state governments can have a framework that they can work together with the Federal Government and the Nigerian Police Force so they can secure lives and property as it obtains in other developed economies.
“Atiku has also been very consistent with the need for us to ensure that the extractive industry and minerals that are under the ground in the states that some more authorities should be given to states to be able to manage their own resources”.
On the fight against corruption, Sowunmi said Atiku believes that the anti-corruption war must be pursued in a more systemic manner which led to the formation of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other offences Commission (ICPC), Procurement Act during the Obasanjo-Atiku presidency from 1999 to 2007.
“Atiku has been very consistent on the need for the country as a whole to approach anti-corruption on a more systemic manner which is consistent with what we have always done in government leading to the establishment of the ICPC, EFCC, Procurement Act and the administration of Criminal Justice Act.
“If what Prof. Sagay is saying is that this embarrassing and vindictive charade that they call anti-corruption is what is best, we obviously know that age has caught up with him and we just advise that he engage himself in explaining what Buhari has done to deserve a second term and stop this embarrassing, Unclad dance in public space that is beginning to make him appear inconsistent to people who like him in the past,” he said.
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