It appears that the Presidency, or members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), are now jittery over the personality of former Vice President of Nigeria and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Otherwise, why should the Federal Government be so much worried that Atiku Abubakar, who for now is a private Nigerian citizen, has applied for a visa to enable him visit the United States of America?

Atiku Abubakar was reported to have last Tuesday visited the American Embassy in Abuja where he attended a visa interview to enable him visit the United States, but the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday hurriedly organized a press conference where he called on the American government not to grant visa to Atiku Abubakar.

According to Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while the United States of America has the prerogative of whom to issue visa, it should be mindful of the timing, in order not to give the impression that Atiku Abubakar has been endorsed by the United States government.

“We understand and appreciate the fact that it is the prerogative of the US to grant a visa to anyone who applies. However, we want the US to be neutral and be wary of taking any decision that will give the impression that they are favouring or endorsing any candidate over the other. Impression must not be created that the United States government is endorsing one candidate over the other”, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated.

For us, this is a very weak argument. First, Alhaji Lai Mohammed is giving us the impression that only two candidates are contesting the Nigerian Presidential election in 2019, that is, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and perhaps, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, whereas over seventy candidates have indicated their interest to contest the election.

Has Lai Mohammed kicked against the American government granting visa to any of these other candidates, or is it not likely that some of them might visit the United States before next year’s election? Why should Lai Mohammed single out Atiku Abubakar by asking the American government not to grant him visa? Why not allow the US to decide whether or not they will want him to visit their country?

Secondly, what has granting visa to visit the United States got to do with an election being held here in Nigeria? How does it equate to neutrality, endorsement or otherwise of a Presidential candidate? Are the American people or even Donald Trump going to stay in the United States and be voting in our election? A bad workman, they say, quarrels with his tools?

I thought they said the 2019 campaign would be issue based. Let Lai Mohammed tell us what they have done and what they are going to do if elected, that will make us vote for them. Why should he be worried about whether or not the United States will grant visa to Atiku Abubakar to visit their country? It means that some people somewhere are really very much afraid of Atiku Abubakar.

We live in a free world and Atiku Abubakar is free to visit any part of the world he chooses once he meets the requirements visiting that particular country. Therefore, Alhaji Lai Mohammed should leave Atiku Abubakar alone and tell us how they are going to undo the damage the APC administration had done to the country.

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