- …I’m vindicated, says Atiku
By Ochiaka Ugwu and Lateef Ibrahim
The Buhari Media Organization (BMO} has hailed the decision of the United States government to impose visa ban on politicians believed to be involved in election-related violence.
The group which drums support for Muhammadu Buhari presidency through media awareness and mainstreaming welcomed the action saying that it did not only exonerate the present leadership but also a clear indication of Mr. President’s acceptability and popularity in the International community.
A statement released yesterday in Abuja titled, “US Visa Ban Echoes Buhari’s Global Popularity” and signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, noted that it is instructive that the United States is taking the step in spite of efforts by opposition figures led by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar to, allegedly, turn the US government against the newly elected government with false narratives.
It also stated that the US Department of State position showed the futility of the opposition’s efforts to demonize the government before, during and after the 2019 elections.
According to the statement, “We acknowledge the decision by the American government to impose visa ban on individuals responsible for undermining the last electoral process or organising election-related violence. It is in line with a warning the US issued before the election, and we note that it is within the rights of the Americans to do so.
“And by making it clear that the actions are not directed at the government that emerged from the process, the US has tacitly cleared the Buhari administration of involvement in acts of political violence in spite of efforts by lobbyists engaged by the PDP to taint the President’s victory”.
The group said it was a welcome decision considering that the US specifically targeted officials of the Venezuelan government and their family members when it imposed visa restrictions on the country in the wake of recent election in that country.
The pro-Buhari group expressed hope that the visa restriction would cover individuals who threatened violence if their candidates failed to win the last elections, as well as others who freely used hate speech on social and traditional media in the run up to the election.
The group held that “Nigerians can easily recall how some highly placed opposition figures told the world before the Presidential election that the spate of violence in the country would increase if President Buhari was re-elected for a second term.
“That comment was not only inciting but also ominous in a country with a history of post-election violence. Like many Nigerians, we drew attention to the irresponsible and unguarded statement and urged the opposition party to caution its members, but surprisingly it did not see anything wrong with it.
“There was also a slew of hate speeches on social media by key opposition figures and there was also at least one instance where an opposition spokesman in Kaduna State was filmed instigating party loyalists to take up arms against members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)”.
BMO also welcomed US expression of its commitment to work with President Buhari to strengthen democracy, end corruption and improve respect for human rights saying that it is reassuring that the US is extending a hand of fellowship to the Buhari administration to stamp out corruption in the country.
On his reaction to the visa ban, the Presidential Candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar said that the ban has vindicated his position that 2019 polls were not credible.
Atiku in a statement released in Abuja by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe said, “After the conduct of the February 23, 2019 Nigerian Presidential elections, we maintained that the polls were rigged, not credible and that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar won the elections and that his mandate was stolen.
“In the aftermath of the daylight robbery that occurred on Election Day, the regime of General Muhammadu Buhari and its allies went into a propaganda overdrive to deny the obvious.
“However, it is a truism that no matter how far and fast falsehood, or in this case, rigging, has traveled, it must eventually be overtaken by truth”.
He noted that the day has come after many months of living in denial, maintaining that the Buhari regime is now faced with the truth in the form of a US visa ban on politicians who undermined Nigeria’s democracy.
“We also wish to thank the United States of America for standing with the Nigerian people against those whose desire it is to truncate our democracy.
“Finally, we urge the Nigerian people not to despair. There is hope on the horizon. There is light at the end of the tunnel. The myriad of security, economic and social challenges Nigeria currently faces, which has resulted in our nation becoming the world headquarters for extreme poverty will, God willing, soon be over, with the prospect of purposeful and result oriented leadership” the statement concluded.
The US Department of State had earlier in a Tuesday statement by its spokesman, Morgan Ortagus slammed a visa ban on certain class of unnamed politicians in Nigeria over their suspected anti democratic actions.
“We condemn those whose acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption harmed Nigerians or undermined the democratic process”, the.statement said.
Continuing, Mr. Ortagus said, “The Secretary of State is imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria. These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights”.
Although the statement emphasized that the actions are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly elected government, but did not mention names of person(s).
Peoples Daily gathered that U.S. privacy regulations prohibit the American government from naming the individuals affected by the restrictions. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a) protects personal information held by the federal government by preventing unauthorized disclosures of such information.