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 that the government was aware of the move by the former Vice President to lobby the U.S. to lift the visa ban imposed on him. He said, while the U.S. 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 U.S. government.
“We understand and appreciate the fact that it is the prerogative of the U.S. to grant a visa to anyone who applies. “However, we want the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. visa. “I am sure you will all recall the Jefferson’s case and the cold 90,000 U.S. dollar in fridge.
“We are not unaware that Atiku has engaged the services of some lobbyists to persuade the U.S. to issue visa to him. Our position is that if the former Vice President is seeking the U.S. visa we have no problem about it.
“However, we want the U.S. government not to create the impression that it is endorsing one candidate over the other,’’ he said.