By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—WIFE of the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mrs Titi Atiku Abubakar, yesterday alleged that her husband, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, was victimised for insisting on inspecting the controversial 53 suitcases imported into the country by a first class northern traditional ruler during the military administration, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja when she paid a courtesy visit to the former Federal Commissioner for Information and Niger Delta leader, Chief Edwin Clark, and other leaders of the South South, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Middle Belt Forum, in his Asokoro residence, Titi said Atiku’s insistence provoked the government which then pressured him out of his post.
It would be recalled that Atiku was the Customs Officer in Charge of Murtala Muhammed Airport command when the suitcases were imported into the country in 1984.
Atiku’s wife said: “When Atiku was in Customs, there was one incident that happened in the 80’s when 53 suitcases were brought in by a traditional ruler during the administration of the present president and he (Atiku) insisted that those suitcases must be opened.
“But they were very angry with him and they called the then Minister of Finance, Onaolapo Soleye, and they said they should throw him out of the job.”
“But the minister said to them, this is one of the finest officers he had, that he would never throw Atiku out. That was what the man did. They said, ‘it’s ok, if you don’t want to throw the man out, transfer him immediately. Atiku was that day transferred to Kano.”
Speaking further, Mrs Atiku, who revealed that there was fear among party leaders and stakeholders when the venue of the recent PDP national convention was moved from Abuja to Port Harcourt, said many people believed it was a ploy to edge out Atiku and that there would be a fight.
She noted, however, that God had ordained that he would be the party’s flag bearer at the convention.
According to her, when Atiku emerged the candidate at the convention, he went to Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, to thank him for letting the party use the venue.
She told Clark that she had come to thank him as an elder statesman, saying Nigerians were primed to elect Atiku because all their homes had become “Atikulated.”
Mrs Titi Atiku, who assured that as a successful private businessman, Atiku would bring his business sagacity to bear on creating a prosperous life for Nigerians, however, noted that the main opposition candidate was corrupt.
She said as someone who had been married to Atiku for nearly 40 years, she knew him better and could say he is a just man.
In his remarks, Chief Clark said the forum of elders interviewed 16 presidential aspirants, stressing that they were looking for a man with capacity and intelligence who would keep the country together.
Clark, who noted that the 1999 constitution encouraged division among Nigerians, unlike what obtained in the First Republic where Nigerians put the country first, said: “What is the reason for making one area of this country, North West, seven states; North East, six states ; North Central, six states; South South, six states but South East, five states?
“Is that fair? Is it equitable? That is one of the things not going on well in the country. If you ask for ministers, every zone brings six ministers, except South East. You ask for things to be shared according to states, they (South East) receive only five.
“So, when some boys say ‘we are not part of Nigeria,’ they are angry, and nobody should crucify them, no one should call them terrorists. They are fighting for their rights. They are Nigerians.
“So, we are now looking for somebody among the candidates who will say ‘am going to restructure his country and fairness will come to everybody and you will manage your own affairs.”
Clark assured that Atiku, who he said had been an advocate of restructuring since 1994, would do the bidding of Nigerians, if elected president.