|Former Vice-President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar has replied Popular Comedian I Go Dye’s call out post and open letter, in which the comedian alleged that he did nothing during his years as Vice President.
Atiku Abubakar has responded to the open letter and below is what he had to say:
“Dear I Go Dye,
I read your post on Instagram. It was hard to miss it because it was on every major news website. I would like to say that you were mostly right. The questions you raised in your post are similar to the ones I have been asked by other young people on social media, so I am replying this not just to you as a person, but to all young Nigerians who have asked similar questions.
Firstly, you are right. The Nigerian youth have often been taken for granted, and almost every leader in our history has taken young people for granted. But it’s important to point how this started — for people like me who saw Independence; our leadership was mostly driven by young people. Then came the coups, and the civil war, and then more coups. Nigeria ended up with a long period of military dictatorship for many decades, in which time; those young leaders aged, but still remained leaders. Fela, Gani, Enahoro, and Beko were young leaders, yet remained leaders until their demise. That was because of the stagnation brought on by decades of political instability.
I do understand your frustration on the issue, however. I tell people my age that to understand young Nigerians, we need to understand the difference between Nigeria and Naija. Naija embodies the hopes and dreams of young Nigerians, the country they love and long to go home to when they are abroad. Naija is the country that brings them pride in music, film, comedy, fashion, and technology. It is the country of WizKid, Asa, Davido, Tuface, the Olympic bobsled team, Alex Iwobi and Don Jazzy Again.
Nigeria on the other hand, is the country of their parents, the country where leaders are constantly failing them, of Boko Haram, of herdsmen violence, of recessions and joblessness. Our young people need us to make our country live up to the aspirations of Naija by fixing the problems associated with Nigeria.
But let me speak about what you can judge me by, my assigned responsibilities. As VP, I assembled what is arguably the best Economic Team ever in Nigeria. It was made up of young, world class professionals, who came home to work. Some of those professionals are now political leaders, governors and world leaders in their own right.
You mentioned that I never brought young people into leadership, but my record speaks differently. I have a proven record of bringing young, unknown professionals into service. Many of the professionals and ministers I brought in were in their 30s and early 40s. Some of those young leaders have become governors in their states. I went to the World Bank and met a bright lady, convinced her to come back home, and she became a star in our government. To show you we had effective leadership, the same lady could not replicate her exploits under a different government.
I was also in charge of privatization and I have witnesses that I never interfered with the process. I never bought anything belonging to the government. I was quite wealthy before coming into government, with declared assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars in 1999 (which was put in a trust when I became VP); so it was understandable that many of the wealthy Nigerian business people who participated in the privatization programme were my friends. Did I use my influence to get them better deals? No. As the then DG of BPE testified under oath, I never used my position to interfere with his work.
My legacy as Vice President, I would say is the banking consolidation process, for which I gave political backing for. Many big people were putting a lot of political pressure to not change the status quo, but we knew that if that consolidation was not done, Nigeria could not grow. Because of that banking consolidation, Nigerian banks don’t fail anymore the way they used to.
I know many of these have been forgotten because it was a long time ago, and successive administrations did not follow up on the progress we made. But that is also not to say we were blameless. I was largely frozen out in the second term of our tenure, and I regret that we had that disagreement with my boss. Some say I was disloyal, but I looked at the events in Zimbabwe recently, and it gives me confidence that I did the right thing fighting the attempts to elongate the presidential tenure beyond eight years. If I did not win that fight, do you think we would be having a discussion on young people getting into leadership today?
Honestly, I did not ever think we would be that successful, which was why I kept my day job, when we started it. It was just what you would call a side hustle, but it grew so big, and I had to quit my government job to focus on it. 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 that company is the most competent logistics company in Africa, which is why it gives Intels the most complex operations to manage.
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.
In summary, I Go Dye, I am not a person who says what he cannot do or show proof. I am giving you an invitation to sit down and ask me any questions you may have. I would also like to take you around, show you some of the businesses I have built, and let you speak to the young people who run those places. It is good to try to convince you that I can do better by our young people, but it is even better to show you. Send me a direct message on Twitter, and we will take it from there”.