Chris Steven, Abuja
The New Agenda for Positive Change, a civil society organization has taken a swipe at the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for reportedly holding a strategy session with members of his team in Dubai, UAE.
The Dubai meeting had in attendance, Atiku’s running mate, Peter Obi; the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Also in the meeting were ex-Ogun Governor, Gbenga Daniel; ex-aide to former President, Reno Omokri, Bayelsa East Senator, Ben Bruce among others.
Reacting, however, the group said the development was a sad reminder of Atiku’s extravagant lifestyle, which his years out of government had Nigerians to forget.
Raymond Clarke Amuna, President of the group, said the development was an indication to his dangerous tendency to hand Nigeria over to foreign interests, with Dubai being his latest preference.
Amuna in the statement challenged the PDP candidate to explain to Nigerians how he intends to run a domestic-oriented economy for the masses with the kind of lavish lifestyle of taking his strategy team with over 400 members to Dubai.
He warned that a vote for Atiku would definitely signal a return to the era where even bottled water is imported into the country and Nigerians will again be conditioned to believe that only things that are foreign are good.
According to him, “Each time Atiku Abubakar considers slinking to Dubai he should be mindful of how the opulence of the desert city warps his sense of proprietary. He has never returned from his Dubai trips lucid enough to accept the reality in Nigeria possibly because his guilty conscience pricks him to know that the PDP could have done better for Nigeria in its 16 years of misrule.
“There are various exotic venues in Nigeria that he could have used and have members of his team spend money to boost the local economy but he decided to expend his N20 million annual income in ferrying Peter Obi, Secondus and other clowns in his circus to Dubai for the strategy session. It is therefore not surprising that his team issued the statement castigating the government for planning to use the proceeds of privatization to fund the national budget.
“The first thing of note is that Atiku Abubakar, a onetime Vice President (1999 to 2007) and by default the Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the time, was the originator of privatization or in layman’s term selling government owned enterprises, businesses and assets. It was under him that the chant of “government has no business in business” or “government is incapable of managing businesses” first gained ground and have remained a part of our collective psyche today.
“This is why even as the nation continues to explore the diversification of its revenue source under President Muhammadu Buhari, people have been conditioned to the point that no one is thinking of creating enterprises that will address unemployment and revenue sources simultaneously.
“Secondly, Atiku Abubakar spoke from experience. He is not sure that the national assets in question would be allocated to him and his cronies as it was done under his watch when he held sway over the privatization of most of the country’s assets.
“He is therefore definitely waiting until such a time when he is certain that he can acquire the same assets for pittance. His media organization ranted on about how the assets to be sold were built by the PDP without being able to list a single one of them, which implies that the PDP candidate is claiming what he did not achieve.
Furthermore, the PDP Presidential Candidate is unmindful of the reality that the proceeds will be managed differently from the 16 years that his party was in power. It is publicly known that even the small money for which national assets were sold under his watch ended up in individual’s pockets. He thinks that the current government will, like the PDP, steal the proceeds of privatization. But this is where he is wrong because he can see for himself that the remnant of the nation’s resources that were not looted by the government Atiku Abubakar served in and successive PDP government have been put to good use.”