Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will not get a United States visa – if the Federal Government has its way.
The government yesterday advised United States against granting visa to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Mr Abubakar.
To the government, issuing a visa to Abubakar will amount to the creation of an impression that the US Government will be favouring a candidate over the other in the forthcoming 2019 poll.
There are indications that Abubakar’s visa application is still being processed by US Embassy.
The protest of the government came against the backdrop that Abubakar was alleged to have visited US Embassy in Abuja on Monday for fingerprints as part of steps towards issuance of visa.
Addressing a news conference yesterday, Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed advised US Government to avoid dragging itself into Nigerian politics.
He said in the last 12 years, there had been an ongoing Congressional investigation of alleged corruption against some individuals which had made it difficult for Abubakar to visit US.
He said: “The issue of Abubakar and the grant of his efforts to secure a visa to visit the US. I must say that we are not at all in any panic. We will be honest in appreciating the fact that it is the prerogative of US to grant a visa to anybody who applies.
“However, the impression must not be created that US Government is interested in one particular candidate over the other.
“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.
“Our position is that if the former VP already has a US visa, we have no problem about it. What we warn US Government against 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 VP is granted a visa.
“We are not unaware – I think it is also in the public domain – that Abubakar has engaged the service of some lobbyists in the US to facilitate the issuance of visa for him.
“Once again, I say it is his own right to do so, but we want these countries country to be neutral on the 2019 elections and they should please be wary of taking any decision that will give the wrong impression that they are favouring or endorsing any candidate over the other.”
Abubakar is believed to have gone to US Embassy in Abuja on Monday for fingerprints as part of steps for the issuance of a visa to him.
It was learnt that he might get his visa within a week or two depending on whether or not he enjoys any concession.
A source said: “Abubakar is almost completing his visa process. He was at US Embassy on Monday for fingerprint vitals.
“I think it is too late in the day for this administration to stop issuance of visa to the former Vice President.”
In a swift reaction, spokesman for PDP who also doubles as the spokesman for the party’s presidential campaign council, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, dismissed the comment as “lazy talk”.
In a telephone chat with our correspondent yesterday, Ologbondiyan said: “Lai Mohammed and APC cannot dictate to America who to allow into their country. It is not in the place of Mohammed to tell America who to admit and who not to admit into their country.
“America is a sovereign country and they reserve the right on who to admit into their country. This is part of the government’s misplaced priority. It’s all lazy talk.”