By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor and OlayinkaAjayi
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi Wednesday frontally fought off allegations of corruption bringing to light the candidate’s personal role in the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Atiku and Obi taking their slot in the live television session series, Meet the candidates, hosted by ace broadcaster, Kadera Ahmed in a robust exchange gave further insights into their programmes for the country giving lucid examples from their personal experiences in government and private life.
The session which was severally spiced with hot exchange between the moderator and the two candidates saw Atiku and Obi repeatedly enunciating how they would make Nigeria work again.
The moderator, Ahmed who came in feisty challenged Atiku on his perception on corruption asking him whether his setting up of a company while still in service was not an act of corruption.
Atiku strongly rebuffed the claim saying that it was an investment that was akin to share purchase flowing from the Indgenisation Decree promulgated by the OlusegunObasanjo administration.
Ahmed also challenged Obi saying that he invested Anambra State government money in a brewery he had interest in.
To the contrary, Obi said that he invited the foreign investors into the country and was offered 15% equity but rejected it but the investment is now worth $100 million.
Giving his role in spearheading the fight against corruption, he said:
“I in particular brought the concept of the EFCC from Brazil. I borrowed them N300 million from the privatization proceeds which they repaid when the budget appropriation was made.”
While noting that he was willing to consider amnesty for looters, he said that President Obasanjo set up a panel with him as chairman with the Attorney General of the Federation and the National Security Adviser as members which was able to recover $4 billion.
Ms Ahmed who challenged Atiku on the United States report which she said named his wife asked him to speak on it.
Atiku replied that there was nothing to it as his wife was neither indicted or charged on the issue saying that if there was anything against her that she would have been charged.
“My wife was not indicted, was not charged, so I have no view about it. The company was fined for a number of offences committed, not necessarily for anything to do with my wife. My wife is an American citizen so there is no way that she would not have been charged.”
Asked if his wife has been travelling to America since then, Atiku responded to the positive saying “Yes, she has been traveling repeatedly then.”
When she allowed questions, a member of the audience quoted Dr. Obasanjo’s past description of Atiku as unfit for public office and asked Atiku what he would do if someone with such a referral came to him whether he would employ the person.
Replying, Atiku said:
“If the man has changed his mind and said that I recommend him as the best, then I have nothing to say.” As Ms Ahmed pressed him to elaborate, Atiku said he was about the most investigated person during the Obasanjo administration and that nothing criminal was found against him.
On his desire for the presidency, he said:
“In the last four years we have witnessed the performance of the present administration and I believe that Nigerians should compare with the record of the previous PDP administration.