Atiku And That Love Letter From Okonkwo
I read with interest but huge sense of disappointment, the article written by a certain Churchill Okonkwo entitled: LETTER TO ATIKU ABUBAKAR BY A DISSATISFIED NIGERIAN which sadly has gained currency in social and certain print media in the past few weeks. Apparently, from the tone of Mr. Okonkwo’s treatise, he is definitely dissatisfied and acted like a man returning with a vengeance. However, it remains difficult to really understand whom he is really displeased with; whether Atiku, Obasanjo, Nigeria or even himself for the likely tragic and pathetic shortcomings of his own life, which is written all over the article.
Certainly, specious reasoning was clearly exhibited in various sections of the referenced narrative. In fact, it is a crying shame that a person like Churchill Okonkwo, an assumed public affairs analyst who from his writing sounds like a young man, should engage and concern himself with such passionate bitterness about another man without facts. Ordinarily, a lot of people would believe that there is no good reason to join issues with such a person but the truth is that allowing such lies to thrive unaddressed will be a great injury to our society and a big disservice to the reading public.
To put it in a clearer perspective for the benefit of all well intended Nigerians that abhor deliberate distortion of our collective past, it is good to put the records straight. In the first instance, love him or hate him, it is difficult to overlook the fact that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is one of the most successful men in Nigeria today, either in business, politics or education. He is in addition, one of the very few, admirably detribalized Nigerian leaders in the country today. Unfortunately, on Atiku, Churchill Okonwo definitely spoke like a man of limited knowledge and in that limitation, exposed the simple philosophy of dim-witted people, who would always want to drag people down to their banal levels, then proceed with negative logic that stupidity thrives on.
For any sound mind with basic knowledge of Nigeria’s democracy, it is easy to conclude that Churchill Okonkwo is a man of selective memory or limited information which actually leads one to imagine what his status would have been in 1993 when Atiku Abubakar jostled with the late M.KO Abiola on the political landscape for Presidency. That he even chose to forget that the same man he tried to write to tatters had grown to a level of National political relevance in 1993 and was a major factor in M.K.O Abiola’s emergence as presidential candidate is really unfortunate. The omission of these vital information in his long article is highly lamentable for a writer that claims good knowledge of his topic of discussion. Indeed, for him not to understand or even appreciate the fact that Atiku Abubakar was already a multi millionaire in every positive and applicable standard of the qualification and value of naira by 1993, is because he refused to conduct appropriate research on what he claims to have first class information on. Simply put, this is an exhibition of the typical Nigerian PHD (Pull Him Down) syndrome, which has been the bane of skewed minded people.
Indeed, if not for the purpose of credible knowledge sharing, there will not be really any need for an expanded debate with Churchill on Atiku's financial dealings, his contractual engagements or even his progressive vision to enhance the educational standard of Nigerian children with his brave and courageous decision to invest in bringing the American University Franchise to Nigeria while others are engaged in things that do not suggest any meaningful development for the young generation of Nigerians.
Again, the issues of corruption that Churchill raised against Atiku are baseless allegations and it is shocking that he had the temerity to call Alhaji Atiku out to join issues with him on the basis of obviously half baked and out rightly misinformed allegations. If truly, Churchill knows the much he claims, why shouldn't he visit wisdom and use the whistle blower window to make financial gains from such disclosures instead of wasting the precious time of readers. This is sadly and dangerously an indication of a pen-for-sale mercenary who is also suffering from acute jealousy and or inferiority complex.
Specifically, on Churchill’s claims that Atiku is a religious bigot, the question that one would like to ask even from his narrative on the American University is: Would he have been more satisfied if Atiku had opted to build an Islamic university at a very low cost than engaging in a project that will enhance people of all religions? Obviously, the answer to this for every true believer in Nigeria, which I am sure Churchill is not, is that Atiku did the right thing. So, how would such a man that embraces western education for all now be tagged a religious bigot?
In fact Churchill's article lacks depth and is dearth of quality research because he failed woefully to recognise that Atiku is one Nigerian leader that engages people irrespective of their religious affiliation or ethnicity. A clear example is the many assistants Alhaji Atiku had as Vice President. Again, if one may ask, is Churchill Okonkwo really in a position to know how many church activities that Atiku has generously supported and continues to provide humanitarian assistance to, at the prompting of his many Christian friends?
Speaking directly about Atiku's wealth, it is surprising that Churchill Okonkwo had either missed the countless times the Wazirin Adamawa has taken out space in national newspapers to explain his source(s) of wealth or he is sadly not compliant with modern communications channels like Facebook and Twitter, where Atiku himself, ever current and keen to embrace modern technology, took to responding to the well known stand-up entertainer 'I go Dye', on the matter of INTELS.
For ease of reference, Atiku had said and I quote him: “It was the Shagari government that started the Onne Port and later abandoned it. In summary, my business partner and I saw an opportunity to build Nigeria’s oil industry using world class infrastructure, but driven by Nigerians. “We went out and took loans to build the facilities, but as we went on, more opportunities opened up, which allowed us access to even more capital. We ended up borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly from Europe, to build the port, singlehandedly charting the course of Nigeria’s oil industry. Today, every oil major uses the facilities we built. The government only became clients after the oil companies.
“Our company has expanded to several countries in Africa. Even the FG has seen that our company is the most competent logistics company in Africa, which is why it gives INTELS the most complex operations to manage. “But Intels as a corporate citizen is loved in the locations it operates. That’s because we invest in scholarships, hire young people from the community and train them to become world class technicians. As CSR, we have gone into partnership with the NFF to train young Nigerian footballers, and provide support for the local league. We are loved by the youth in our local communities.
“In my home state of Adamawa for example, I’ve created over 50,000 direct jobs and 250,000 indirect ones. We are the largest private employers of labour in the state only second to the state government. It’s not a lot, but it does help reduce unemployment. Who do you think are holding those jobs? Yes, young people."
From the above stated, it is obvious that Churchill’s description of Atiku as 'a symbol of the past failures and the politically corrupt in Nigeria' therefore, is clearly a statement of falsehood. With all due respect therefore, I too, on behalf of millions of Nigerians want to inform Mr. Churchill Okonkwo that for a long time, the man Atiku has remained a media delight. Issues on Atiku are front page news for Nigerian media. So, it is of little surprise to observe that some people may want to hang on the branches of Atiku's public outings to announce their relevance even if it means concocting stories to initiate an irrelevant debate.
That exactly is what Churchill Okonkwo has done through his write up on Atiku that best fits the work of a fiction writer. Indeed, his analysis with half truths, unsubstantiated accusations, distortions and make-believe description of Atiku are sufficient to conclude that he was merely interested in pouring out his imaginations than relying on facts, as well as possibly attracting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar's attention to his existence.
*Shaibu, a Public Communication Consultant writes from Abuja