History will be fair to you as a true democrat, Atiku Tells Jonathan
By Ayo Kehinde
Pix 1: Former President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-Vice President and PDP presidential hopeful, Atiku Abubakar, during Atiku’s courtesy visit to Jonathan at his country home in Otuoke, Bayelsa State on Wednesday. Pix 2 Governor Seriake Dickson with Atiku and former Governor Gbenga Daniedl of Ogun state, DG of Atiku’s Organisation. Atiku was in Bayelsa from where he moved to Port Harcourt on Wednesday in continuation of his nationwide consultations for his 2019 presidential bid.
Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar has stressed that passion for service, and the desire to bring efficiency in the management of government affairs are the main reasons he wants to run for President.
Meanwhile, Abubakar described former President Goodlcuk Jonathan as a hero of democracy in Nigeria.
Abubakar who was in Bayelsa in continuation of his consultations to the state and Rivers for his 2019 presidential bid made the assertion on Wednesday during a courtesy call on President Jonathan at his country home in Otuoke, Bayelsa State.
Atiku Abubakar, who recalled Jonathan’s exemplary decision to hand over the reins of power without qualms, observed that that singular historic decision set him apart as a democrat of unimpeachable credentials.
Atiku, while reflecting on Jonathan’s action that doused tension in the country at that time, noted that the situation in Nigeria may have been different if he (Jonathan) did not voluntarily relinquish power.
“I want to say without equivocation that history will be very kind to you. As the democrat that I have always been, I want to say you have truly excelled! If you did not excel as a democrat par excellence, I wonder what the situation in Nigeria would be today”, Atiku said.
Responding, Jonathan commended Atiku for appointing former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel as Director General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation.
He noted that Daniel’s choice as DG was spot on considering that as DG of his own (Jonathan’s) Campaign in the South west, his hard work paid off and was capped with huge electoral success in the zone.
He said that his relationship with Atiku dates back to more than 16 years ago when he was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State during which time the Waziri Adamawa showed him friendship and support.
Speaking with journalists during the visit, he explained that by the letters of the Nigerian Constitution, a Vice President is limited in his official powers to execute projects of his own initiative.
That constitutional constraint, according to him, limited his capacity to deliver even on some lofty projects designed for his own state in Adamawa while he served with President Obasanjo.
He reminded that as Vice President he did not have the powers to initiate and execute projects of his own choice, but to engage the process. He stated further that it is on record that he creditably discharged tasks assigned to him as Vice President.
He regretted that apart from constitutional constraints, which limited the powers of the Vice President, the politics and political intrigues of that era also harmed the larger interest of the people of Adamawa, as some of its share of federal infrastructure including roads were deliberately discontinued on account of some political differences among several key players.
The PDP presidential hopeful said that the administration he served in as Vice President awarded contracts for the Mayo Belwa-Jada-Ganye-Tongo and Yola-Mubi-Maiduguri roads in Adamawa State in its first term. According to him, there was supposed to be a spur of the road linking Mambilla in Taraba State and thereby making it the shortest cut to Mambilla but execution of these were delayed and later truncated on the altar of politics.
Atiku said allegations that funds meant for road projects in the state were diverted to build the American University of Nigeria in Yola was being unfair to him, and that “it shows lack of understanding of how government runs on the part of the people making such allegations. Government does not run on such pedestrian level, it is a process.”
He maintained that all the money used for setting up the first development university in Africa came from private sources.
“To set the records straight, no public funds were involved in all my investments in several sectors that have continued to provide jobs and enhance educational and socio-economic well being of Nigerians. I have always been contented with what God has given to me in all its ramifications and I thank Him for using me to better the lot of the people”.
“Without being immodest, I was a successful businessman before going into politics and subsequently becoming the Vice President by Allah’s Grace. I was not desperate to be in government in order to make money but to serve the people in my own little way and contribute my quota to its overall development”.
Atiku Abubakar asserted that he was the most investigated Vice President in Nigeria, and challenged “anybody with evidence linking public funds to the AUN or any of his private investment to come forward to prove that”.
Atiku lamented that some people do not appreciate individuals who create wealth by their personal initiative and resourcefulness but rather hold contrary views with the stigma of such possessing ill gotten wealth.
He said that it was wrong to assume that one can’t succeed without stealing public funds, noting that it is well documented that he (Atiku) had made a success of his businesses before he was tapped as Vice President.
“If money was my motivation for seeking elective office, I would not have joined the presidential race at any point in time in my political career. My ability to make money through my businesses was established long before I was chosen as Vice President,” he said.
He however affirmed that better days are ahead not only for Adamawa State but indeed for all of Nigeria when he gets the mandate of Nigerians to serve as President in 2019.
On his own part, Daniel paid tribute to Jonathan as the most educated President Nigeria has ever had, who made it through the ranks as Deputy Governor to becoming Vice President and subsequently President of Nigeria.