The Federal Government has asked the United States not to create an impression of endorsing the candidate of People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar for the 2019 presidential election of Nigeria.
Interacting with journalists in Abuja yesterday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said though the US government reserves the right to give anyone visa, granting Atiku entry visa at this particular time could be interpreted as a covert endorsement of one candidate over the other for the 2019 general elections.
The minister, however, stressed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was not panicking over the issue.
“Our position is that if the former VP (Atiku) already has a US visa, we have no problem about it; but we want the US government not to give impression that it is endorsing one particular candidate over the other, and that is what will happen if, for instance, the former VP is now granted a visa.
“We are not unaware; I think it is also in the public domain, that he (Atiku) has engaged the services of some lobbies in the US to facilitate the issuance of the visa for him. I will say that it is his own right to do so, but we want all countries to be neutral in the 2019 elections and should please be wary of taking any decisions that will give the impression that they are favouring or endorsing one candidate over the other,” he said.
On Boko Haram and the recent killings of soldiers, Mohammed said: “Despite the setback that was witnessed last week, our position that we’ve decimated Boko Haram is still valid because we need to know where we were in 2015 and where we are today in terms of security.”
On the allegations of partisanship against the police, the minister said being an activist or an opposition does not grant immunity from being arrest by the police.
“I want to assure you that this government and the president will not use the police for its own personal and political gain,” he added.
The minister described the rumour that President Muhammadu Buhari was “cloned” as idiotic.
Dispelling the insinuations that Buhari had died and that one Jibrin from either Sudan or Chad was occupying his seat at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, he said: “It is idiotic to say the President is cloned. I don’t see any serious government responding to that. So, the same Jibrin that was cloned from Sudan or Chad is in Chad now (for a meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission)? Isn’t that stupid?
“They even said he is from Chad. Yet, the same president is in Chad as we speak. The same Jibrin is remembering what the president did while in Petroleum Trust Fund and he is also remembering what he did when he was head of state between 1983 and 1985.
“All the ministers do not know who is before them when they attend the Federal Executive Council meeting? The President remembers memos he had seen or heard about in 1985 and we say he is cloned. So, Jibril from Chad or Sudan will now remember all of these? It is too silly for the government to respond to this. It must be ignored.”