Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has reportedly put several of his high net worth properties on the market.
The properties are said to be in South Africa, Dubai and Europe.
This has been interpreted as an indication that he intends to prosecute his last presidential race with everything he can muster in 2019.
“Atiku is throwing everything that he has into the 2019 presidential race,” a source in the know said.
There are, however, no indications that Atiku, who is not afraid to spend, is broke.
But the cash cow of his investments is the Integrated Logistics Services Nigeria (Intels), which he described in 2014, as “my most successful business.”
Reacting to the allegation of putting his properties on the market, a miffed Atiku stated that there was absolutely no substance in the allegation, adding that it lacked facts and that the media must not cross the sacrosanct lines of
professionalism in their news reportage.
Atiku, who spoke through his media adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, said: “As a journalist and an editor, I can’t stop you from doing the story. But your story must be backed with facts.”
Ibe, who spoke to The AUTHORITY on phone on Thursday, stated that his feedback was more of “an advisory” than “a response.”
He queried: “How can I give legitimacy to a falsehood? I cannot dignify such a falsehood with a response. Our lawyers are ready to run amok with people.”
Meanwhile, sources confirmed that attacks on his business empire, especially Intels, have started achieving the desired effect of “financially emasculating Atiku”, who hasn’t hidden his desire to run for the presidency.
In May this year, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had conveyed to Intels President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval to designate operations at the Onne Port into three categories - bulk cargo, container cargo and multipurpose cargo.
The implication of the various actions by the NPA is that Intels’ monopoly was “efficiently broken,” said the source. Onne Port is now Oil and Gas Multipurpose Cargo Terminal. It is the hub for oil and gas industry in Nigeria. More than 65 percent of export passes through the port.
Atiku, in his reaction, has instituted a court action against the government at the Federal High Court. Intels is accusing the government of breach of agreements and deliberate sabotage of its multi-billion investments through its actions.
The decision of the government opened the port to all and gave importers the choice to discharge their cargo in any terminal.
Only last week, a Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Mohammed, had blasted Atiku for trying to position himself as the leader of the North.
Atiku’s firm threatens arbitration against NPA over $700m debt
And shocked by the NPA’s termination of its agency agreement in spite of its recent correspondences to the company relating to its over $700 million indebtedness, Intels has requested a meeting to reconcile the “residual critical areas.”
Intels said that it was an “unjustified decision” with “consequences highly injurious” to the nation, including hurting Nigeria’s international credit rating, scaring away foreign direct investments (FDIs), and engineering the company’s possible withdrawal from the multi-billion-dollar Badagry Deep Seaport project.
In a letter to the NPA Managing Director, Intels’ Director, Silvano Bellinato, with regards to Article 12 of the Agency Agreement, requested for a meeting within seven days from the receipt of the letter “to analyse the residual critical areas of our relationship and to agree, to the possible extent, on a common solution.”
Failing to do this, Bellinato said that “we will refer the matters to arbitration,” adding that “we wish to reach an amicable solution as soon as possible so that we can avoid to request the intervention of the court for the immediate payment of any amount due to us from NPA.”
The company stated that “clearly, deduction of entitlements due to INL from collections under the agreement, and payment of the balance into the designated NPA account for TSA purposes, would be in compliance with the TSA policy.”
The letter read in part: “With reference to your letter received on October 10, 2017, allegedly terminating the agency’s agreement between Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Intels Nigeria Ltd (INL), we formally contest the contents of the same for the reasons stated below:
“On March 15, 2017, we received your letter ref HQ/F&A/ED/AD/INTELS/034 in which, in addition to other contents, the following points were stated:
“Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) acknowledged a debt towards Intels Nigeria Limited (INL) in the sum of $674,767,415.00 (in addition to the interests accrued in the meantime); NPA communicated the need to reconcile the sum of $109,000,000.00 for the additional works carried out:
“NPA informed INL about the implementation to be discussed in respect of a ‘transit account’ called NPA service boat revenue collection account domiciled at one of the banks indicated by you and the related standard operating procedures (SOP);
“NPA confirmed 28 per cent agency commission to INL and the 72 per cent balance to be shared between NPA and INL in the ratio 30:70.
“On March 27, 2017, we replied to every point in your letter of 15th March as stated below: INL took note of NPA’s acknowledgement of debt;
“INL declared availability to meet NPA in order to discuss the details for the certification of the $109,000,000.00 for the additional works carried out; INL requested for postponement of the SOP application.”