To be fair to former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, he has the right to aspire to the highest office in the land. Interestingly, he believes he’s the best candidate for the job.
His case is made stronger by the fact that he built a strong business empire. Recently, he has tried to explain how he – as a Customs officer — amassed such fortune. He argues that those who may want to compete with him in the next elections have not really run anything successfully.
But he has a millstone around his neck. And if he finally gets the opposition party’s presidential ticket, he would spend enormous energy and resources answering questions about allegations of corruption. This could short-change Nigerians because this would distract attention from some fundamental debates Nigeria needs in the next elections.
A few years ago – in 2010, the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a report titled, ‘’Keeping Foreign Corruption out of United States: Four Cases of History’’. The aim of the report was to show how powerful people from abroad used U.S. lawyers and professionals to bring large amount of suspect funds into America.
In that U.S. Senate report, Atiku’s case made one of the four historic cases. The report re-echoed that which has been in the public domain and which has not been sufficiently put to rest by Atiku.
The U.S. Senate reported that from 2000 to 2008 Atiku’s fourth wife – referred to as Jenifer Douglas — helped him move over $40 million to the United States. The Senate committee says these funds were suspect funds and were sent from banks outside the U.S into over 30 bank accounts opened by Atiku’s wife.
The committee also reported that the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission alleged that Atiku’s wife received over $2 million from Siemens AG, a major German company. According to the report, Siemens has already pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges and settled criminal charges related to bribery and told the Senate committee that it sent payment to Jenifer’s account. But Atiku’s wife still maintained that she was innocent.
The Senate committee also talked about offshore transfers of over $14 million for the development of a university founded by Atiku.
As weighty as these allegations are, Atiku still argues that he is not corrupt and that anyone who has anything against him should come forward with it. He claims he has not been able to visit the U.S. because he hasn’t been granted a visa.
There have been all kinds of correspondence between the Nigeria media, U.S. Embassy in Nigeria and the U.S. Department of Justice about whether Atiku is wanted in the U.S. or if there was any corruption case against him. And Atiku has relied on some of these diplomatic responses to argue his innocence.
This is not enough for someone seeking the number one office in the land. Atiku has the resources to petition the U.S. Senate committee and ask for such allegations against him to be dropped. If he runs for president and still has these allegations hanging on his neck, the next election would be devoid of all other issues, except allegations of corruption against him. This could be his opponent’s major campaign issue.
Atiku has to clear these allegations so that the campaigns would be more incisive and debate driven, since he wants to run for president.
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