Former President, US firm identified in plot to obtain US visa for Atiku

Ex-President, U.S firm named in Atiku’s visa row

Atiku Abubakar

Posted By Yusuf ALLI, Managing Editor, Northern Operation and Yinka Adeniran

A former President and a Washington based firm have been named in the lobbying for the issuance of visa to the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.

According to findings made by our correspondent, the ex-President, who demonised Atiku in the past and called him unprintable names, has been coordinating lobbying for him as “part of a rebranding project” to enable relevant authorities and institutions to buy into 2019 poll in Nigeria.

A top source said yesterday that the ex-President has been involved in creating international image crisis for President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The source said: “I think it is a Cold War thing between pro-visa elements and those against it. Whatever alarm the Federal Government is raising stemmed from intelligence reports on the dimension the politics of visa for Atiku is assuming.

“From preliminary findings, a former President is actually the one coordinating lobbying for the issuance of the US Visa to Atiku alongside a Washington-based firm. The vicious colour of the lobbying is what has made it an issue.

“The ex-President and other lobbyists have been turning the facts upside down in order to have their way within the US government and at congressional level.

“The ex-President and the PR firm said to be on $90,000 per month have already drawn up some interactive engagements for PDP candidate in the US to mobilise international support for the PDP candidate.”

In the US, those against Atiku have equally stepped up attack on him and are reminding the White House and the Congress about the “unresolved issues concerning him, and what the former President now chief lobbyist had said about the PDP presidential candidate.”

“One or two ministers have also been to the US to hold talks with some institutions and officials on why the American government has to be cautious in handling the visa matter.

“It is left to the US Government to weigh options on whether or not to complete the visa process for Atiku, “a highly placed source said yesterday.

As at press time, it was gathered that Atiku had left Nigeria for the United Kingdom on Thursday night after the inauguration of PDP Presidential Campaign Council.

“I think it is when he returns that he will complete his visa process. But the fingerprints have been done,” another source added.

Speaking with our correspondent last night, one of the strategists of the PDP candidate, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, said: “What has granting of visa by another country got to do with the capacity, acceptability and effective strategies to get Nigeria working again in the election of a sovereign nation like us?

“What is even the big deal going to America when Donald Trump has sounded it loud and clear that he does not even want foreigners to come to America again?

“Why should a man who wants to become President of a big country like Nigeria make travelling to America one of his campaign points, when we all know that once he becomes President, the same America will urge him to come and visit?

Speaking yesterday on the visa controversy, the United States Consulate, Lagos, said the issue remained a strictly confidential matter, which the American government will not discuss publicly.

The Public Affairs Officer (PAO), US Consulate, Lagos, Brussel Brooks, said irrespective of the social standing or interest of the society in the matter, the US government will give the matter the strict confidentiality it requires.

The PAO made the disclosure in an interview with journalists at the end of an education forum organised for 150 teachers and students drawn from various public schools in Oyo State.

Dignitaries at the event include representatives of Oyo State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, students and teachers, among other stakeholders in the sector.

The programme, entitled: “Teaching Resources: Availability, Applicability and Appropriateness”, held at the Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan.

It was organised by Fulbright Language Scholars’ Association under the leadership of Miss Tolu Akinwole and funded by the US Consulate.

The organisers said the programme had trained a total of 350 teachers in Oyo and Ondo states in 2018 with the focus of “igniting vibrant teachers and provide solutions to observed inability of students to apply lessons they learn in classrooms to everyday life.”

Speaking on the Atiku US visa status, Brooks said although the case has been a topical issue in the media for a while, the US would still maintain its stand of taking visa matters as highly confidential, irrespective of the individual concerned.

He said: “The position of the US mission has remained the same throughout any discussion of this issue, that visas are a confidential matter.

“We don’t discuss individual visa’s status of any person, whether it be a highly rated official, a presidential candidate or an average citizen.

“Anyone who applies for a visa should know that there will be some records that are confidential. It is classified as private document by the United States Government and we never discuss them in public.

“We would only enjoin candidates at all levels, especially presidential, governorship and National Assembly, to focus on issue-based campaigns and avoid distractions.

“We advise Nigerians to ask candidates at all levels the plan they have to improve education and other aspects.

“Often times, unfortunately, campaigns are full of distractions, things that are not that important to the lives and welfare of average Nigerians, especially the children that are with us today.

“What is important for them is to give them the opportunities to serve in order to thrive in today’s world.

“This means they need good education. The school should be improved.

“When I heard the letter from the students describing their lack of books and dearth of desks in their school. This is very disheartening. There are things that should be corrected.

“I will also encourage parents and voters to ask the candidates what they plan to do to improve education. I think issue-based campaigns will be beneficial to all Nigerians.”

Credit: The Nation

Why I lost 2015 presidential election — Jonathan

Why I lost 2015 presidential election — Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari

Obama’s role

Former president Goodluck Jonathan has revealed the sordid role played by then American president, Barack Obama, fake news peddlers and former governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who defected to the then opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) that cost him his reelection bid in 2015.

He claimed Obama meddled in the poll when he sent his secretary of state, John Kerry, and made a video broadcast to Nigerians in ways designed to influence the outcome of the election against him.

Jonathan, who was trailing by over two million ballots conceded defeat to President Muhammadu Buhari while the final results were yet to be announced.

In his book, ‘My Transition Hours’ launched, yesterday, in Abuja, Jonathan wrote: “This time around, there were governors who were rounding off their eight years tenure and were blinded by ambition.

“Some governors wanted to be vice president whilst others strived to be the president. If I contested none could realise his ambition. This muffled implosion would fully manifest in the buildup to the 2015, which each ship-jumper calculating how much he or she would take from the PDP or the most opportune moment to cause maximum damage and based on that, plot their exit.

“As they jumped ship in preparation for the 2015 elections, only very few of this lots, if any at all, bothered about what the PDP did or did not do in terms of delivering our campaign promises. Their opposition to my re-election was principally driven by personal ambition. They therefore played up the issue of where I come from and the faith I professed to fuel their burning ambition. My performance mattered quite little, if it mattered at all.”

According to the former governor of Bayelsa, most of the governors and other prominent members of the former ruling party who plotted against him are now being victimised in the APC.

He also said he faced a barraged of opposition from Northern leaders and socio-political group who felt he was usurping power from the region. He said these northern power blocs had tried to deny him of his constitutional right of replacing the late president, Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in office, in 2010.

“In spite of the threats and provocations to make the country ‘ungovernable’ for me, I had the overwhelming support of Nigerians in the run-up to the presidential election in 2011. I was able to win the election to the grace of God and the love of Nigerians. The election was all but won even before the whistle was blown for some strong factors. To mention a few, the pressure to preclude me from contesting in 2011, met with solid indignation from majority of Nigerians.”

He said in 2015, some northern leaders continued to oppose his presidency and his bid to seek a second term in office, but a new element was added to the opposition: “constant fabrication of damaging stories.”

“Many reasons make the onslaught in this context very suspect especially as it was being managed by foreign experts mostly from the United States.

“Throughout my tenure in office as President, there was constant barrage of what Donald Trump has now termed ‘fake news’ coming from a well-oiled media propaganda machine. I can say as a matter of fact that were never any snipers in training or already trained. There were no lists of political enemies to be taken out.

“There was no missing $49.8 billion and more importantly I can say that even those who made these and other allegations knew that they were false. This probably explains why many of these allegations died a natural death even as the echoes of my retreating footsteps still resounded nationally and globally.”

He said he faced unending insults during his tenure and one that was particularly surprising to him was the tagging of his presidency as “clueless” despite a number of firsts the country recorded during his tenure.

He said his tenure heralded “phenomenon economic growth” for the country, the most prominent of which was the 2013 declaration of Nigeria as the largest economy in Africa.

He said it was no ordinary diplomatic feat for the country to be elected into the Security Council of the United Nations twice during his tenure.

He described the actions of Obama as “humiliating”.

“I can recall that President Obama sent his Secretary of State to Nigeria, a sovereign nation, to protest the rescheduling of the election. John Kerry arrived in Nigeria on Sunday January 25, 2015 and said, ‘it’s imperative that these elections happen on time as scheduled’.

“How can the US Secretary of State know what is more important for Nigeria than Nigeria’s own government? How could they have expected us to conduct elections when Boko Haram controlled part of the North East and were killing and maiming Nigerians? Not even the assurance of the sanctity of the May 29, 2015 handover date could calm them down.”

Credit: The Sun