Atiku Fights Back, Tours UK to Improve Image

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has launched a major campaign to
repair several years of damage done to his image by his erstwhile boss,
ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, as he traversed the United Kingdom in the
last one month, talking to international opinion moulders on his true
essence. The international image improvement engagements are preparatory to
his declaration for a presidential run in 2019 on the platform of the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which THISDAY sources close to him said
might not be later than the end of May.

Since Atiku fell out with Obasanjo in 2003 in the heat of their PDP
presidential primaries, the latter has spared no effort in projecting his
deputy as a corrupt public official, who, given the opportunity to be in
command of the ship of state, would “steal the country blind.” So effective
has the Obasanjo stigmatisation of Atiku been that the corruption
perception became the former vice president’s albatross in his three
previous presidential contests.

“Aware of the implication of tackling this matter head on this time around,
we decided Atiku should make deliberate efforts to disabuse the minds of
the people, particularly, the international opinion moulders, whose views
could affect his chances,”

Although most of the engagements were passed off as business and academic
meetings, in the form of lectures on economic issues of national importance
to Nigeria, THISDAY sources said the main objective of the Atiku team was
to divert attention away from his not too complimentary political
reputation and project him as a man of great ideas, who has been wilfully

Consequently, a series of foreign engagements have been lined up for him,
including a major economic speech at London’s Royal Institute of
International Affairs (Chatham House) on April 25.

According to a statement by his media office, the keynote speech, entitled
“The Importance of Strengthening State Economic Management Systems,” will
unveil innovative and tangible solutions that once implemented would help
Nigerian states come out from their current economic challenges and help
get Nigeria working again. It said during the trip to the UK, Atiku will
also give another major keynote speech at the Invest Africa and British
Council for Africa “Annual Debate”. He would speak alongside Dr Liam Fox,
International Trade Secretary, UK Government, on the subject of “Building
new trade partnerships in Africa.”

The statement noted that the speaking engagements were a follow-up to
Atiku’s meeting in June of 2017 with Liam Fox and Prime Minister Theresa
May, where they discussed the UK’s plan to increase trade with Nigeria post
Brexit. It added that during the trip the former vice president would also
be the guest of honour at a lunch on Nigerian inward investment hosted by
Lord Anthony St John (former UK Minister for Africa) and be a guest speaker
at Round Table of key UK business leaders interested in investing in
Nigeria at the Institute of Directors, Pall Mall.

The three-day trip, according to his media office, will be capped off by
giving the keynote speech to UK Diaspora in the City of London on the
subject of “Maximising the benefit to our economy of all our talents,
wherever they may be.”

Expected to return to Nigeria early next month, Atiku, according to his
associates, would immediately conclude his consultations with the major
stakeholders in the party.




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