This is the season of political campaigns, a season mostly synonymous with propaganda and often times outright lies by politicians and their surrogates.
With his presidential campaign struggling badly to gain neither attention nor traction, Atiku Abubakar and his Peoples Democratic Party have led the attack against President Buhari, members of his family and his in-law – Isa Funtua in a bid to rubbish the president’s impeccable integrity.
But wait; is it not ironic that Atiku, who lives in the most shiny proverbial glass house, a corrupt former Customs officer, who amassed stupendous wealth from obvious corrupt practices while in service, is the one talking? An apple they say does not fall too far from its tree.
Atiku, the former Vice President recently claimed that Buhari and his family members acquired “significant shares in” 9Mobile and Keystone Bank. His surrogates have also claimed that a Lamborghini car that was flown into the Airport in Lagos via an Emirates plane belongs to Buhari’s son in-law, Abubakar Ismail Isa Funtua. There is also another outlandish claim that the senior Funtua gets $12m from the CBN weekly at N305 -$1 and sells in the black market at N370.
If Atiku was not up to mischief he could have used his enormous resources to reach out to Barclays Africa, the well-known and widely-respected financial institution that solely managed the sale process of 9Mobile to prove his allegation against the Muhammadu Buhari and Isa Funtua families. Barclays’s first set of due diligence was to unmask, investigate, and approve the key players behind each of the bids for 9Mobile. According to impeccable sources, and in line with myriads of media information on the sale, none of the bids had President Buhari, Alhaji Isa Funtua or their family members.
Barclays also carried out due diligence on the ownership structure of Teleology and the source of the foreign loans it put up to purchase 9Mobile before approving the takeover. Atiku has been unable to prove this lie till date despite being challenged to do so.
9Mobile, the former Etisalat, was acquired by Teleology, a company led by Mr. Adrian Wood, the pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria. A simple search at the CAC will clearly reveal the directors. It is important to note that 9Mobile is a private company and not a government property. If Atiku’s claim to knowing how to turn the economy around is true, why does he not understand the difference between sale of a private company to private individuals and sleazy/opaque offloading of government assets to cronies of the government, especially knowing that this is what he did as Chairman of the country’s National Council on Privatization?
In the case of Keystone Bank, one is not surprised as Atiku and his cronies showed early and sustained interest in acquiring the bank but given the competitive and transparent process, they lost out. The bank was then sold to Sigma Golf Nigeria Limited and Riverbank Investment Resources Limited (the Sigma Golf – Riverbank consortium) in 2017. The sale process was managed by the reputable Citibank and FBN Capital. Umar Modibbo, the MD/CEO of Sigma Pensions Limited, is the promoter of Sigma Golf.
Now let us take a look at the Lamborghini imported to Nigeria through Lagos via Emirates. This vehicle for a fact does not belong to Abubakar as claimed by Atiku’s desperate surrogates in posts circulated on social media. I do not know the owner of the vehicle but I know that Abubakar leaves and works in Abuja. If indeed the car belongs to him why would he fly it to Lagos when the same Emirates plane could have delivered the car to him Abuja! The Lying Atiku gang has been challenged to prove their lie again but they have been unable to substantiate it.
On the FC allegations, the CBN foreign exchange structure is very clear and easy to understand. The CBN only sells foreign exchange to banks and licensed bureau de change operators weekly, with each BDC getting about $60, 000 at about N358- $1 for onward sale to customers.
This is how the CBN sells foreign exchange to banks. A bank approaches the CBN after it has completed documentation for a customer seeking to buy foreign exchange. The CBN then sells foreign exchange based on availability to the bank who then transfers the money to the foreign merchant account which the customer is buying something from. The CBN does not sell foreign exchange directly to individuals so it is absurd and bizarre to read that one person gets a weekly allocation of $12 million from the CBN. This is another unproven lie.
It is on record that Mallam Isa Funtua, the founder of Bulet international Nigeria Ltd, an indigenous construction company which built most of the iconic buildings in Abuja, is largely wealthy.
It is clear that Atiku’s tantrums are coming courtesy of the frustrations that have engulfed his presidential campaign having been tacitly abandoned by key political figures especially in the South/East and South/South where he had planned to record a landslide to stand a chance at defeating Buhari in February’s presidential election.
Atiku will always be synonymous with corruption and there is no way we will standby and let him taint others who are underserving with the same brush. But during this political season, he is better of not throwing stones as his house may be the first to crumble!
*** Raymond Obaseki writes from Abuja.