Tony John, Port Harcourt
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has explained that by the letters of the Nigerian Constitution, a Vice President is limited in his official powers to execute projects of his own initiative.
Atiku said that as Vice President he was limited to his capacity to deliver even on some lofty projects designed for his own state, Adamawa, while he served with the President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Abubakar spoke, on Wednesday, to journalists on arrival at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, in continuation of his consultations to Bayelsa and Rivers States for his 2019 presidential bid.
He reminded that as vice president, he did not have the powers to initiate and execute projects of his own choice, but to engage the process, stating further that it was on record that he creditably discharged tasks assigned to him as vice president.
He regretted that apart from constitutional constraints, which limited the powers of the Vice President, the politics and political intrigues of that era also harmed the larger interest of the people of Adamawa, as some of its share of federal infrastructure including roads, were deliberately discontinued on account of some political differences among several key players.
The PDP presidential hopeful said that the administration he served in as Vice President, awarded contracts for the Mayo Belwa-Jada-Ganye-Tongo and Yola-Mubi-Maiduguri roads in Adamawa State in its first term.
According to him, there was supposed to be a spur of the road linking Mambilla in Taraba State and thereby making it the shortest cut to Mambilla but execution of these were delayed and later truncated on the altar of politics.
Abubakar said allegations that funds meant for road projects in the state were diverted to build the American University of Nigeria, in Yola, was being unfair to him.
He said, “It shows lack of understanding of how government runs on the part of the people making such allegations. Government does not run on such pedestrian level, it is a process.”
He maintained that all the money used for setting up the first development university in Africa came from private sources.
“To set the records straight, no public funds were involved in all my investments in several sectors that have continued to provide jobs and enhance educational and socio-economic well being of Nigerians.
“I have always been contented with what God has given to me in all its ramifications and I thank Him for using me to better the lot of the people”.
“Without being immodest, I was a successful businessman before going into politics and subsequently becoming the Vice President by Allah’s Grace.
“I was not desperate to be in government in order to make money, but to serve the people in my own little way and contribute my quota to its overall development”.
Abubakar asserted that he was the most investigated Vice President in Nigeria, and challenged “anybody with evidence linking public funds to the AUN or any of his private investments to come forward to prove that”.
He lamented that some people did not appreciate individuals who create wealth by their personal initiative and resourcefulness, but rather hold contrary views with the stigma of such possessing ill gotten wealth.
He said that it was wrong to assume that one cannot succeed without stealing public funds, noting that it was well documented that he (Abubakar) had made a success of his businesses before he was tapped as Vice President.
“If money was my motivation for seeking elective office, I would not have joined the presidential race at any point in time in my political career. My ability to make money through my businesses was established long before I was chosen as Vice President,” he said.
He stressed that passion for service, and the desire to bring efficiency in the management of government affairs were the main reasons he wants to run for president.
He, however, affirmed that better days are ahead not only for Adamawa State, but for Nigerians, when he gets the mandate of the people to serve as President in 2019.