Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), does not intend to travel to the United States "anytime soon".
As reported by SaharaReporters on October 31, Gbenga Daniel, Director-General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Orgsanisation (APCO), had said Atiku had received “signals from American officials” to apply for visa and it would be granted.
On Saturday, TheCable reported that the visa had been granted, and even added that Atiku had travelled to the UK, from where he would proceed to the US to spend some time.
Atiku’s spokesman confirmed in a tweet that although the former Vice President indeed travelled to the UK, he had since returned.
SaharaReporters now understands that the US trip is not on the cards anytime soon.
According to a source very close to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who played a big role in the securing of the visa, the former Vice President will be busy back home for a while.
“The ban has been lifted but it doesn’t mean he is travelling like today or anytime soon,” the source said. “The restriction has been lifted, which means he can travel anytime he wants. But he’s not planning a US trip soon.”
A second source familiar with Atiku’s campaign itinerary said ordinarily, it would be impossible for the presidential candidate to travel to the US at a time when full-fledged campaigns are kicking off.
“His campaign kicks off in Sokoto tomorrow, Monday, which means there’s an official cover for his decision to stay back in Nigeria,” said the source. “However, if you look at how much of an issue his US avoidance has been in his campaign so far, you would understand that Atiku won’t mind taking a few days off to make that trip to the US to prove that he is not wanted for corruption, just to give his campaign that massive anti-corruption lift.”
Atiku hasn’t stepped on American soil for well over decade dating back to his Vice Presidency, allegedly due to the belief he would be arrested for allegations of corruption, including one by US congressman Williams Jefferson that part of the $100,000 cash found in his refrigerator was intended as bribe for Atiku for his role in helping American firm iGate secure a contract to expand broadband in Nigeria.