It is true that no matter how far a lie travels, it will eventually be overtaken by the truth. But I also believe that when a lie is left unchallenged for too long, it will begin to appear like the truth. I am compelled to reply to a publication where one Engineer Mohammed Lawal, a former Deputy Director of the Buhari Presidential Campaign, who now sits on the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, was quoted to have made spurious allegation in an interview against the person of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The publication, which was titled: “Forget 2019, you carry what is worse than corruption – Lawal tells Atiku,” and published on September 16, 2017, came shortly after the former Vice President issued a challenge to anyone claiming he is corrupt to either produce evidence or forever remain silent.
As someone with great admiration for the former Vice President and who has preached his suitability for the Presidency of Nigeria at such a time like this when our unity is threatened, I was in a hurry to read through the publication, hoping to find what was greater than corruption that Mohmmed Lawal was talking about. I could infer from the tone of the writing the anger in the heart of the responder and this betrayed his sincerity. His words were a gush of fury and vitriol. I shall not be able to respond to the attack on the personal relationship between Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari, but I am aware that in the early days of this administration, they both appeared to be very close. I still remember that Atiku Abubakar has represented the President at the jumat service that marked the beginning of the swearing-in ceremony. It is also a fact that it was on behalf of the present administration that he was in South Africa lobbying the rest of Africa to have one of her own, the former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, elected President of the Africa Development Bank.
Lawal alleged that Abubakar neither campaigned for nor contributed any money to the campaign. He went further to state and I quote: “Let him say how much he claimed he spent? Is his money more important than his appearance at the campaign?” My observation is that the above quotation was self contradictory and didn’t appear to have come from same person. On one hand, he concluded that the man did not contribute any money and on the other hand he is asking if the money Atiku contributed was more important than he appearing at the campaign. The facts were made bare not only in this argument but by every other point he has raised in his response to the interviewer.
While he was bent on disparaging Atiku by spewing all manner of allegations, in a number of times, he invariably exonerated him. I read through the interview with rapt attention looking forward to seeing what it is that was worse than corruption. And then came the lines where he said the monopoly that Atiku has enjoyed for long in some of his businesses was worse than corruption. Initially, I sighed and then wondered. I read on hoping to find something “worse than” corruption. Eventually, the publication was completed and I was left wondering how monopoly was bigger than corruption. I had to check up the meaning of monopoly in the dictionary to be sure that it’s still the meaning as I knew it. “The market condition that exist when there is only one seller”, and “An exclusive privilege to carry on a business traffic or service granted by a government” These among others were the definitions of monopoly as defined by the English dictionary. Now the question is: how close are any of these definitions to corruption? Firstly, it takes government and existing policies for monopoly to be possible. And if the argument of the responder was that Atiku was part of government and so must have helped to create the said environment favouring such “monopoly”, he again punctured same argument when he reiterated that Atiku was no head of government. Without knowing it, in my opinion and in the opinion of many who read the article, he clearly exonerated the former vice president of same allegations he was levelling on him.
Secondly and more importantly, is the fact that the businesses in question have long existed before Atiku got into power only as the vice president and not a CEO of a government. I am yet to be reminded of any of these businesses that started while he was in power. A man set out to do business so he can make profit and in the process creates a lot of jobs to the betterment of himself and all whom he employs and invariably improving society. And for nothing short of politics such achievement is rubbished just so he is pulled down. Nigeria is indeed killing her giants, persons who should be praised and applauded for their contributions to economic growth and political developments are constantly maligned for personal reason. I won’t be surprised if someday even Aliko Dangote shall be accused of corruption and of monopoly, especially if he goes into politics. The good thing is, every time that they have attempted to disparage Atiku Abubakar, the lies are easily obvious. The conjectures are faulty and they invariably exonerate him. Also important to note that in this case, Mohammed Lawal also is entitled to one vote as he is entitled to his opinion. The people are tired of being told who is good enough to be voted for by persons whom themselves have no moral credentials and will fall far short if put to the same standards they device for Atiku. It is obvious that his comparison of corruption and monopoly was for the want of what to say. He was merely calling a dog a bad name.
Lawal, in another attempt at tainting Atiku’s person, tried to absolve himself and his co-travellers from being responsible for the instigation when he said they were not responsible for the allegations of corruption against Atiku. He stated that it was the public’s opinion that Atiku was corrupt. He must have a short attention span because he seemed to have forgotten that he created the headline: “Forget 2019, you carry something worse than corruption,” and that it is such headlines over time that is responsible for the so called public opinion. In that publication done shortly after Atiku put up the challenge of show evidence or forever remain quiet, the evidence of corruption that the responder, Mr. Mohammed Lawal, could provide was Atiku’s ability to create wealth. And he coined it, monopoly. Indeed politics is a dirty game as has been shown by this absurdity. While it remains surprising to some of us how far they can go, it is understandable that they will do anything and everything to undermine their opponent especially one with such clout and support like Atiku. But after all the noise, it is the people in their quiet time that will discern what truly matters especially at a critical time like this.
. Bright is a medical practitioner based in Warri, Delta State and can be reached via [email protected].