The personal income declared by Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has continued to generate mixed reactions among Nigerians ahead of the 2019 general election.
The latest is from a pro-democracy group, Rebirth Nigeria Leadership and Good Governance Initiative, which has called for a thorough probe into the financial activities of the companies belonging to Atiku.
The group said the income taxes declared by the PDP presidential candidate must have been filled with “irregularities”.
According to the credentials released by INEC last Friday, Atiku declared the sum of N60.2 million as his personal income in three years. The PDP presidential candidate also indicated in his tax returns attached to his nomination form that he paid N10.8 million tax between 2015 and 2017.
However, the group said it was aware that the Adamawa-born politician worth more than what he had declared to INEC as his income tax.
Speaking to journalists, Olugbenro Ogunoye, National President of the Rebirth Nigeria Leadership and Good Governance Initiative, accused the PDP presidential candidate of not telling the truth about his income and taxes.
According to him, the amount declared by Atiku could not cover the multiple trips he makes in a year, noting that a return first class ticket to Dubai alone varies within N3.5 million.
“Aside that, the amount of money the PDP presidential candidate doles out to urchins and political thugs, even before the start of electioneering, on a monthly basis is way more than N20 million.
“We do not want to go into the details of the dollar rain he made to fall at the convention that produced him as PDP’s candidate.
“Is he trying to tell us that he gave out the equivalent of his one year income to three delegates? Then, he must have been working for ten thousand years to pull that feat.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s worth had been estimated at about $1.4 billion, while his loyalists had touted his business acumen citing investments in media, shipping, education, manufacturing and other areas.
“If these businesses, in addition to his pension as a former vice president, cannot lift his annual earnings above N20 million, then something is cardinally wrong with his business sense.
“Either the books are being cooked up to project losses and avoid paying the correct taxes or he is in reality a bad and lousy businessman that should not be allowed anywhere near the economy.
“The myth of Atiku Abubakar being a business maverick has thus been forever shattered, because even those running enterprises that are a tenth of his business empire earn more than N20 million annually as personal income and their businesses are not suffering.
“His (Atiku) companies must then submit to independent audit to verify the extent to which the books have been tampered with such that their owner is unable to earn up to N2 million monthly,” he said.
Ogunoye, however, implored Atiku to also declare his assets with a “realistic declaration of his income” for the electorate participating in the 2019 general election to take him serious and accountable.