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Afri-Projects partners insist on non-complicity in ‘fraudulent’ PTF contracts



AGAIN, promoters of the Afri-Projects Consortium (APC) have condemned insinuations by some supporters of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the special purpose vehicle was unprofessional in its dealings with the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) during the administration of late Gen. Sani Abacha.

   Newspaper and social media allude to the report of an administrative panel that probed the operations of the PTF, led by former military Head of State, now the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to the effect that the PTF contractor, Afri-Projects Consortium, was used to siphon funds and was actually indicted. 

   Those opposed to the APC have continued to activate the political landscape with the PTF controversy since the countdown to the 2015 general elections began. However, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in whose administration the PTF investigation was conducted, recently defended Buhari, describing him as “incorruptible,” a position that has been faulted by the PDP.

   However, insisting that the records of Afri-Projects Consortium remained clean, its partners, in a position paper made available to The Guardian, ascribed the renewed controversy to the exigencies of the current political campaigns, saying that “it comes with the usual peddling of mischief and smear by hatchet players who do not care whose reputation is marred.”

   The statement, which was co-signed by all four partners of the consortium, Nuruddeen A. Rafindadi, Murtala Aliyu, A. Dahiru and Ms. Amina J. Mohammed (UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning), insisted that “Afri-Projects Consortium unfortunately has fallen victim of the misinformation campaign now going on.” 

   According to the statement, members of the Board of Trustees of the defunct PTF are persons of towering character and esteem, whose names were “a roll call of honour and integrity: Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) – Executive Chairman, Mallam Yahaya Gusau, Ahmed Talib, Rufus F. Giwa, Prof. J. P. Clark, Prof. Chimere Ikoku, D. B. Zang and Tayo Akpata. 

   “All of them, except Buhari and Clark, have passed on to the great beyond. Their integrity and blessed memory cannot possibly be denigrated by the exuberance of a director of media and publicity of a political party campaign organisation that is intent on scoring cheap points.”

   It also decried the fact that the Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, reportedly issued a statement which the partners consider a wild mischief and irresponsible slander, not only against the firm but also and most disturbingly, the late Salihijo Ahmad.    

   Mr. Fani-Kayode refers to the Ahmad as “the witness that could have nailed Buhari about the graft that took place at PTF … but died under mysterious circumstances.” 

   “Once again, an old and archaic report, which has long been overtaken by events and discredited, is being bandied in a desperate effort to rubbish the accomplishments of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF), which operated between 1995 and 1999, under which our firm served as Management Consultants,” it noted.

   Referring to its November 2002 response to a similar allegation related to this same report, the APC partners stated that after painstaking investigations, the firm and personnel were never found wanting, fraudulent or to have behaved in an unprofessional manner in their dealings with the defunct PTF.

   “Nonetheless, we are compelled to respond to this hubris not only to protect the honour of our late colleague, Salihijo Ahmad, but also in defence of the hard work of hundreds of professionals and conscientious staff who toiled day and night during the PTF years to give the nation their best in the delivery of meaningful projects,” the statement added.

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