Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has finally been issued a visa to the United States, despite being arrestable.
A family source disclosed this on Saturday and confirmed that the former vice-president has left Nigeria for the UK, where he will spend some time before flying to the US.
It was gathered that former president Olusegun Obasanjo played a “critical” role in getting the American government to issue the visa to his former deputy with whom he was estranged for almost 15 years.
The trip marks another chapter in the controversy that has rocked the former vice-president for over a decade.
Atiku, who is widely travelled, has not been to the US in 13 years, intially fueling speculations that he might be avoiding possible arrest or prosecution.
His political opponents had used his absence from the US not just to taunt but to discredit him.
His row with the US authorities began after the FBI investigated a bribery scandal involving William Jefferson, former US congressman, in 2004.
Atiku was accused of demanding a bribe of $500,000 to facilitate the award of contracts to two American telecommunication firms in Nigeria.
The FBI had searched his residence in the posh neighbourhood of Potomac, Maryland, but no money was found.
The investigators had videotaped Jefferson, who was the congressman representing Louisiana, receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills which he claimed was meant for Atiku, but the former vice-president has consistently denied the allegation.
Despite Atiku’s claim to innocence, the controversy raged.
Two months before he declared interest in the 2019 presidential race, Atiku granted an interview to Dele Mommodu, celebrity journalist, where he clarified his absence from the US.
“It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not,” he said.
“I’m not running away from America. I applied but wasn’t issued a visa.”
He said the US did not categorically deny him visa.
“They’ve only said my application is going through administrative process,” he said.
On Thursday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had warned the US to be cautious in granting visa to the main opponent of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
Asked to comment on Atiku’s visa status on Friday, Rusell Brooks, spokesman of the US consulate in Lagos, had said issuance of visa to Nigerians irrespective of their status is strictly a confidential matter.
He said the US government would not discuss such confidentiality in public.
Some All Progressives Congress (APC) members had alleged that Brian Ballard, publicist of US President Donald Trump, was working towards relaxing the visa ban on Atiku
Meanwhile, reports have it that Atiku Abubakar has returned to Nigeria after failing to secure assurances from the US Department of Justice that he will not be arrested if he sets his foot into the soil of the United State.
Waziri Adamawa secured a US visa and had travelled to the United Kingdom from where he will fly into the United state where he had not been able to step foot for more than 13 years.
“His mission in the United Kingdom is to get the British Government to help him secure the assurances of the United States Department of Justice that he will not be arrested upon setting foot in US soil. But the British government is reported to have informed Abubakar that the US Department of Justice has made it clear that it cannot guarantee he will not be arrested.”
Gbenga Daniel resigns from politics, says he will “take on some new challenges”
A former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has resigned from the Peoples Democratic Party.
Daniel, in his letter to the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, dated March 14, 2019, also announced his resignation from partisan politics.
He said the decision to quit partisan politics was personal to him.
Daniel was the Director-General of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organization before the former Vice President emerged as the presidential candidate of the PDP in the election conducted a few weeks ago.
“This is to inform you of my intention to resign from active and partisan politics with effect from today, the 14th day of March, 2019.
“My decision in this regard is entirely personal to me and having served in various capacities, including as Governor of Ogun State, I have resolved to immerse myself in some other vocations and take on some new challenges,” he said in the letter.
Obasanjo urges people of Oyo state to support Makinde
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the people of Oyo State to cooperate with Mr Seyi Makinde, the governor elect of the state.
A statement issued by Obasanjo’s Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, said that the former president made the call when the Oyo State governor-elect visited him in Abeokuta on Thursday.
According to Obasanjo, the love and votes of the people of Oyo State have ensured the emergence of Makinde, adding that their continued support was necessary to make him succeed as a governor.
“He cannot do it alone and since you have supported him before and during the elections, you need to continue to be together to make him successful,” Obasanjo was quoted as saying in the statement.
He urged Makinde to jettison the type of democracy that only targeted or benefited selfish interests of selected few.
“You have a onerous task ahead in improving the status of the capital of the old Western Region and you have to work to unite them all.
“You need to shun corruption, be transparent and embark on developmental projects which would be a delight to the people of Oyo State.
Osinbajo rallies APC supporters for polls in Kano, others
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged All Progressives Congress (APC) members not to relax or take anything for granted ahead of the March 23 governorship election rerun in some states.
Osinbajo communicated this while addressing party faithful at the PMB/PYO Volunteers Appreciation Dinner at the State House Banquet Hall on Thursday in Abuja.
INEC has fixed March 23 for supplementary elections in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states where governorship elections were declared inconclusive.
He thanked the volunteers for their commitment and trust, saying that with the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria was on course for greatness.
“I believe that with your support our country will continue to move forward; everything we want for our country will be done, and by the grace of God, every one of the President’s projects will be done.
`Our economy will turn around and we will see prosperity in this great nation.
“Let me just say that we are still not done with elections.
“On March 23, we still have some outstanding states; as you know, there are rerun elections in about six states.
“ And we still need to put efforts in those six states. We cannot afford to slack up and say the job is done; we still have some things to be done,’’ he said.
Osinbajo expressed APC’s condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the process, and asked for a minute silence in their honour.
He said that the campaign was about the Nigerian people whom he said were very trusting and supportive of their leaders without asking for much.
The vice president said that the Buhari-led government had achieved much in four years in spite of earning less—a feat which was achieved because of Mr President’s honesty and integrity.
Mr Ade Ipaye, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, said that Nigerians had demonstrated their confidence in the ability of Buhari and Osinbajo to pilot the nation.
He said that Nigerians not only voted but made sure that their votes counted.
Ipaye commended the President and vice president over their energetic campaign that saw them going round the country.
The deputy chief of staff also thanked God for securing the President, vice president and the campaign team throughout the campaign.
Retired Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa, Director, Women and Youths, APC Campaign Team, expressed appreciation to Osinbajo for arranging a platform to thank the volunteers.
He thanked God for protecting the vice president in the helicopter crash as he and the crew all came out unscathed.
Marwa said that Osinbajo exhibited uncommon commitment and courage by proceeding with his schedule shortly after the crash.
“Something told me we will be victorious after the vice president survived the crash.
“Why else should the vice president survive if not that God has prepared him for another four years.
“He continued with his campaign immediately after the crash; he deserves applause.
“We thank God for the president who was able to visit all the states; he went to each and every state.
“This is the first time we are seeing a vice president mingling with the downtrodden in the markets and everywhere.”
There were also goodwill messages from some other party functionaries.
The gathering was thrilled by a cultural troupe and comedians.
APC dismantle two symbolic broom statue in Abuja
The gigantic broom symbolising the All Progressives Congress (APC), constructed at the City Gate in Abuja, has been dismantled.
The construction of the broom project, which signifies the APC logo and was done with iron rods, came to limelight in February.
There was another giant broom constructed at the Unity Fountain, also in Abuja.
The project had been widely criticised at the time it was mounted, a few days to the general election.
However, on Friday, construction workers disassembled the projects at the two locations.
Many Nigerians had condemned the project as a waste of resources, especially as Nigeria is not a one-party nation.
The Federal Capital Territory Development Authority (FCDA) was also not left out of criticism for permitting the party to use the site for the erection of the statue.
At the time of this report, it could not be ascertained if the order to dismantle the project was given by the APC leadership or the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).