“What we want the US government to do is not to give impression that it is endorsing one particular candidate over the other.”
Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
The Federal Government has demanded the neutrality of the United States Government in the 2019 polls. It was also a day the federal government said it is not panicking over the visa granted to former Vice President and candidate of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar by the United States of America.
This was just as it declared that notwithstanding the heavy casualty suffered by soldiers fighting insurgency in Borno State, last week, it has no reason to shift from an earlier position that Boko Haram has been decimated.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated these at an interactive session with newsmen yesterday also dismissed insinuations that police is biased against the opposition.
The minister charged the “The US government to be neutral in the 2019 elections and to please, be wary of taking any decision that will give the wrong impression that they are favouring or endorsing one candidate over the other…
“I must say that we are not at all in any panic. We understand and appreciate the fact that it is the prerogative of the US to grant a visa to anybody who applies and who deserves a visa.
“However, impression must not be created that the US government is endorsing one particular candidate over the other.
“As all of us are aware, for more than 12 years, there has been a kind of congressional, bipartisan investigation of corruption against certain individuals which has made it difficult for the former vice president to secure US visa. You all recall the Jefferson’s case, and the cold $90,000 in the refrigerator. This is not the making of this administration; it has been ongoing.
“Our position is that if the former vice president already has a US visa, we have no problem about it.
“What we want the US government to do is not to give impression that it is endorsing one particular candidate over the other. That is what is going to happen if the former vice president is now granted a visa.”
He accused Atiku of engaging lobbyists in the US to help him secure visa to visit the country.
“I think it is also in the public domain that he has engaged the services of some lobbyists in the US; to secure visa for him. It is his right to do so.”
On the heavy casualty suffered by soldiers battling insurgents in Borno, Mohammed insisted that that decimated Boko Haram has been decimated. I think we need to put issues in context. I still say that despite the setback that was witnessed last week, our position that we have decimated Boko Haram is still valid.
“We need to know where we were in 2015 and where we are, today, in terms of insecurity. Many of you were in Abuja pre-2015 and you knew how unsafe even Abuja was. All of us were in Nigeria, pre-2015, and we know that Boko Haram was active in about 10 states of the federation. They chose where to attack .
“In 2015, when we came in, 20, out of 37 local governments in Borno, alone, were under effective occupation of Boko Haram .
“I am glad that few of my colleagues followed us to Barma on December 5 and saw what the situation was..”