Are Nigerians bewitched against Atiku?

Are Nigerians bewitched against Atiku?

As another presidential election year draws near, Nigerians will again have to deal with the deluge of accusations and counter-accusations of corruption that will bedevil every aspirant as political gladiators try to outwit themselves. For some, it will be an easy shake off even though not convicted by court of law but for some others the corruption allegation has become a toga they move around in, albeit unproven. Such has been the plight of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.

To be clear, this piece is not an attempt to disrobe Atiku of the toga of corruption but rather to separate fact from fiction. Is Atiku corrupt? If he is why has he not been convicted by any court for any count charge?

Atiku’s woes began in 2007 when he vehemently opposed the third term bid of his former boss, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo. Many have said Atiku only did that because he had an open secret in mind, to run for president. However, Atiku like every other Nigerian, had a right to nurse that ambition but Obasanjo was having none of it so he began a campaign of corruption against his vice without recourse to how such an action implicates him, the then president.

The allegations of corruption against Atiku are that as the Chairman of the board of the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PTDF) he diverted $125m from a public trust fund into his personal businesses, according to the then Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu.

However, while Atiku was dragged to different courts for various charges of corruption, he was not found guilty or wanting. One begins to wonder, as hell bent as Obasanjo was to nail Atiku how was the former vice president able to dust off the heat of the charges unscathed? Could it be that Atiku had something on Obasanjo to have been able to wriggle his way out or that indeed the man was simply innocent?

Ten years on, three different presidents and time has neither confirmed nor otherwise that Atiku is corrupt but in the court of public opinion, he stands accused in such a mysterious manner as though many Nigerians have been bewitched by Aso Rock demons as described by Reuben Abati.

But by the laws of the nation, the burden of proof is on the accuser and Atiku has rightly explored this when he called on anyone with proof of corruption against him to step forward. No one has come out to offer proof, not even his political opponents, since he put out the challenge.

Since no one is yet to prove that Atiku is corrupt, it is about time for Nigerians to look beyond the corruption allegation stain and ask salient questions many failed to ask candidate Muhammadu Buhari before he became president as time has so far revealed that there are no saints or saviours.

Should Atiku run for president again, Nigerians should ask him what exactly he will do differently to fight corruption, fix the economy , create job and other issues, and how he plans to fulfil these promises. More importantly, Nigerians should make any presidential candidate from the major political parties sign an undertaking that if they fail to deliver their promises in two years, they should be impeached. If we must be bewitched, it must not be against individuals but against a bad system that must be disrupted.

Akinyemi Adebowale is a public analyst and member of Fast Forward Nigeria

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