The Federal Government asked the United States to be cautious in granting visa to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in order not to create the impression of endorsing him for the 2019 election.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the government position at an interactive session with media executives in Abuja on Thursday. Mohammed said the government was aware of the move by the former Vice President to lobby the US to lift the visa ban imposed on him.
He said, while the US has the prerogative of whom to issue visa, it should be mindful of the timing, in order not to give the impression that Atiku has been endorsed by the US 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 one candidate over the other
“Impression must not be created that the US government is endorsing one particular candidate over the other,” he said.
The minister recalled that for years, there has been a kind of congressional bi-partisan investigation on corruption against certain individuals which had made it difficult for Atiku to secure a US visa.
“I am sure you will all recall the Jefferson’s case and the cold 90,000 US dollar in fridge.
“We are not unaware that Atiku has engaged the services of some lobbyists to persuade the US to issue visa to him.
“Our position is that if the former Vice President is seeking the US visa we have no problem about it.
“However, we want the US government not to create the impression that it is endorsing one candidate over the other,” he said.