11 November 2018
Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), arrived Abuja this morning after a break in Dubai and was subjected to the “indignity” of being searched by officials at the airport.
I arrived to Abuja this morning to a search by agents of the state, aimed at intimidating me and my staff.
I am committed to building a Nigeria where no citizen is intimidated by agents of state who are paid to protect them.
— Atiku Abubakar (@atiku) November 11, 2018
It’s not quite clear what the problem is here. How did he know the search was “aimed at intimidating” him and staff? Is it because he is usually waved through when he comes into Nigeria?
Many Nigerian travellers do not enjoy that “luxury” at airports. They are subjected to intrusive searches by all manner of uniformed officials from Customs to drug agency officers. Those searches are usually a guise for shaking down passengers. If you pay them, you don’t have to suffer that inconvenience.
Incidentally, Atiku allegedly made a large slice of his billions from his days as a Customs officer, rising to deputy head before retiring. He was also implicated in a major scandal involving waving a VIP through without a search in the 1980s.
In 1984, Atiku was the Area Comptroller of Customs in charge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. The military dictator at the time was a certain Muhammadu Buhari, now the current civilian president. The Buhari regime was undertaking a change in currency notes and there were tight restrictions on availability of the notes and the movement of money. This was the scene when the Emir of Gwandu arrived at the airport with 53 suitcases and Buhari’s Aide-de-Camp (ADC), Major Mustapha Jokolo, who was also the son of the emir, was sent to the airport to ensure that Atiku and his Customs officers waved through the emir and his suitcases without the sort of checks Nigerians had become accustomed to.
This sort of “army arrangement” and collaboration among the ruling elite to bypass rules and procedures is the sort of double standards that is par for the course in Nigeria. It is also evidence that Buhari and Atiku have more in common than they have differences. Buhari was meant to be fighting a “War Against Indiscipline” then. It was a case of “do what I say, not what I do”. Today, he claims he is fighting corruption. But corrupt money from the likes of Atiku helped him secure power in 2015.
Atiku, with no sense of irony, is running a presidential campaign with the slogan:
#LetsGetNigeriaWorkingAgain. But he was a significant contributor to making sure things didn’t work in Nigeria, from his Customs days to his time as a vice president from 1999 to 2007.
He has now gone full circle, from letting a VIP into the country with 53 suitcases without being searched, to being subjected, as a VIP, to what ordinary Nigerians have to put up with.