The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, yesterday arrived in Washington D.C, United States of America.
The former vice president disclosed this last night via his verified Twitter handle, @atiku. Atiku, accompanied by Senate President Atiku Abubakar, said he was in Washington D.C. to meet with American government officials, Nigerians living the US and the business community.
The former vice president is scheduled to speak at a roundtable organised by the US Chamber of Commerce and the US Africa Business Centre today.
His media aides, Paul Ibe and Phrank Shaibu, had earlier yesterday dismissed a report that their principal had travelled to the U.S. There had been a controversy about why Atiku had not visited the US in the past few years, with many alleging that the former VP would be arrested if he stepped in America over bribery allegation which saw a US congressman, Williams Jefferson, jailed. In a recent interview with the Hausa service of the Voice of America (VOA), Atiku was asked why he has stayed away from the US, to which he responded, “What will I even go to do in America?”
He had in June last year said that he was prepared to visit the US if given a visa.
The Federal Government, through the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, had in November last year asked the U.S. to be cautious in granting visa to Atiku in order not to create the impression of endorsing him for the 2019 presidential election. The minister had alleged that for years, there had been a kind of congressional bi-partisan investigation on corruption against certain individuals which, he alleged, had made it difficult for Atiku to secure a US visa.
“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 had said at the time.