Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called on former Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai to come clean on his role in the setting up of Pentascope instead of castigating him (Atiku).
Atiku, in his first official reaction to the allegations contained in a book written by el-Rufai titled ‘Accidental Public Servant’ wherein he was accused of selling government assets to companies where he has substantial interests said numerous probe panels set up to look at various allegations against him had exonerated him of any wrong doing.
The two dramatis personae served during the presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo with el-Rufai initially serving as the Chairman of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) while Atiku was the chairman of the National Privatisation Council.
In an interview he granted an online newsblog, www.elombah.com, the former Vice President stated that el-Rufai should be accused of engaging in unethical conduct as the head of BPE by selling assets of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) by unilaterally awarding the management contract of the moribund company to Pentascope in spite of directive from the NPC against the move.
While accusing the former minister of deliberate mischief? by his refusal to address the issue in his book, the former Vice President said he had no hand or knowledge of how that company was brought into the country.
“If there is anybody to explain the details of the Pentascope scandal, it is el-Rufai himself. The fact of the contract is like this: Obasanjo agreed with the NCP that the former BPE DG was wrong not to have disclosed his interest and that he had failed the test of transparency by not disclosing that his brother was on the board of Motorola.”
He hinged his position on the extant laws of the country which stipulates that public officers must disclose their interest in any company seeking to do business with the government.
On the allegations against him, Atiku in the publication stated that “These allegations are not new. The interesting thing is that those spreading these allegations couldn’t come forward with any iota of proof against me.
He maintained that he was the most investigated public office holder under the former administration and insisted that the allegations contained in the el-Rufai book had been taken care of by the National Assembly in the past.
Reacting to the book, Abubakar said “People should direct the questions to El-Rufai himself. The Pentascope scandal was one of the issues investigated by the National Assembly and it accused el-Rufai of ignoring wise counsel by imposing the company on NITEL.
“Despite proven allegations that Pentascope was not financially capable and technically competent to handle NITEL management contract, the former Bureau of Public Enterprise Director-General ignored public outcry and forced the Dutch company on NITEL.”
Lamenting the outcome of the move on the fortune of the company, he said “Before the coming of Pentascope, NITEL was making an estimated N100bn profit annually. However, as soon as Pentascope took over, NITEL’s profits were nose-diving incredibly.”