FG says US visa for Atiku has grave implications

*Atiku, Mohammed

The plan by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Atiku Abubakar to obtain a visa and travel to the United States has been viewed seriously by the federal government.

It was gathered that Abubakar had appeared for an interview at the US Embassy in Abuja and that those who are billed to go on the trip with him would use the opportunity to address some US congress caucuses, as well as a high ranking official in the Donald Trump administration.

But reacting to the development on Thursday, the minister of information and culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed told the US to be cautious in granting a visa to the Abubakar in order not to create the impression of endorsing him for the 2019 election.

Mohammed who made the declaration in Abuja yesterday while addressing journalists said the federal government was not unaware of the move by the PDP flag bearer to lobby the U.S. to lift the visa ban imposed on him.

He said while the US has the prerogative to decide who it allows entry into its territory, it should be mindful of the timing in order not to create the impression that one candidate was preferred to the other.

“Our position is that if the former vice president already has a US visa, we have no problem about it. What we warn the US government is not to give the impression that it is endorsing one particular candidate over the other. That is what is going to happen, if for instance the former vice president is granted a visa.

“We are not unaware; I think it is also in the public domain, that Atiku has engaged the service of some lobbyists in the US to facilitate the issuance of visa for him.

“As you all will be aware, for more than 12 years there has been a congressional bi-partisan investigation of corruption against certain individuals which had made it difficult for the former vice president to secure a US visa.

“I am sure you will all recall the Jefferson case and what they called the cold $90,000 in the fridge. This is not the making of this administration, it has been ongoing.”

“We are not unaware that Atiku has engaged the services of some lobbyists to persuade the U.S. to issue (a) visa to him,” he said.

But the national chairman of the PDP, Mr. Uche Secondus who reacted to the federal government’s position on the matter told the All Progressives Congress (APC) to be ready to accept defeat in the February presidential election.

Speaking in an interview with The Punch, he said: “What is their own in the visa that they are calling on the authorities of another country not to grant a private citizen?

“The fact is that the APC government has failed. They are already jittery. They know that the game is up and that’s why they have been running from pillar to post.

“Tell them that their days of deceit are over. Nigerians are tired of them and they can no longer lie or take the people for a ride anymore.”


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