President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that he was never banned from entering the United States. The President, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, was reacting to an allegation by the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku, had in an interview published yesterday in Dele Momodu’s The Boss Newspaper, alleged that he (Buhari) could not enter America on account of religious considerations for about 15 years. He further maintained that he would defeat President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, because the number one citizen in Nigeria “has wasted a lot of his massive goodwill”.
But Adeshina described the allegation as a “fictive concoction being passed off as truth”.
He said it was mind boggling that such an allegation could come from a former number two citizen, “who should know the truth.”
“At no time was President Buhari, as a private person, ever forbidden from entering any country in the world,” he stated.
He said rather, the rest of the world has always held President Buhari as a man of sterling qualities, strong on integrity, transparency and accountability.
“The same testimony is still borne of the Nigerian President by many world leaders today,” Adesina added.
“It is curious that former VP Abubakar had been asked why he had not visited America for over a decade, something that had been a stubborn fact dogging his footsteps. Instead of answering directly, he begged the question, saying Buhari also had been disallowed from entering the same country for 15 years, before becoming President,” Adesina said.
He said Atiku’s allegation “only exists in the realm of his imagination. If he has issues to settle with American authorities, he should do so, rather than clutch at straws.”
Adesina, however, was silent on Atiku’s assertion that he would defeat Buhari if he (the President) runs against him in 2019.
Abubakar, who recently dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has not yet defected to any political party.
But speculations are rife that he would be heading back to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), his former party.
Buhari has also not declared intention to run for a second term, but recent events suggest that he might try his luck again.
The Wazirin Adamawa, who has never hidden his desire to rule Nigeria as a democratically elected president, alleged that President Buhari has become politically weak.
“I will definitely beat him (Buhari) this time. He has wasted a lot of his massive goodwill,”
Atiku, in the interview further claimed that many of President Buhari’s associates were furious and had set a trap which he might not escape.
“A lot of people are disgruntled but are keeping quiet and lying low. Our youths are suffering terribly and now they are being sold into slavery.
“Everyone knows my track record of inviting and attracting a good team and giving them the opportunity to work professionally. Nigerians are tired of leaders who cannot think big and work big,” he said.
The former Vice President, who hinted that the PDP which he co-founded was ready to receive him back, said the former ruling party needed a candidate with the brightest chance when asked if he had any guarantee of picking the party’s presidential ticket.
“Nothing is absolutely certain in this life, but the PDP needs a candidate with the brightest chance and that can only come from someone who has major experience, exposure, knowledge about running an economy, who is a nationalist and not a sectionalist and whose brand cannot be intimidated in anyway by that of the current President.
“If PDP picks a weak candidate, then the party is doomed. Some of those whose names are being touted and bandied about have not grown beyond their immediate domains,” he said.
Atiku said that he did not wait to contest the presidential ticket in the ruling party because President Buhari was no longer interested in the party after winning the election in 2015.
He said, “After Buhari won the election, he was no longer interested in the party that made him President. Every activity stopped and not even the party chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, could take any decision. I called Chief Odigie-Oyegun a few times to tell him our party was dying slowly, but he told me he would not do anything unless he got clearance from the President.
“At a stage, I gathered about 18 prominent members and began to meet in the hope that we can re-energise party activities, but some people lied to the President that I wanted to use the forum to launch my Presidential campaign. That forum became simply dead on arrival. No BOT, no NEC meetings, as stipulated in our constitution.
“The party became a one-man property. Everyone grumbles behind the President’s back but they are too timid to raise a voice against the illegalities being perpetuated. I should be bold enough to know what I want, and can do so at my age, so I decided to leave…”