By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that the recent visit of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has backfired as the issues around his image remained largely unresolved.
The party said that it earlier predicted that being a presidential candidate, that Atiku planned to use the status to enjoy immunity from prosecution.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Director, Strategic Communications, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, the APC described the visit as a non- event.
“We were not surprised by his visit to the US. For us, this visit is really a non-event considering the issues involved in the forthcoming election. However, we have bad news for those who think this is a momentous event for Atiku Abubakar: the visit was nothing but a downright catastrophe because rather than dispel the fact of indictments hanging over his head,” he said.
While faulting the visit, APC said it was an anomaly that the candidate of the major opposition party in Nigeria sneaked into America and did not meet large sections of political leaders of similar ideologies and persuasions towards which he claims to be inclined.
APC’s presidential campaign council said the visit had all the trappings of a fugitive sneaking into America under a “special diplomatic waiver”.
It noted that for the candidate of the major opposition party in Nigeria, it is an absolute disaster that the visit was not announced ahead of time in Nigeria, with his programmes and itinerary clearly spelt out.
According to the APC, the style of Atiku’s travel to the US was a clear departure from the “decent and customary minimum standard of such visits”.
The APC presidential campaign further punched holes in what the PDP sees as a major political point, saying that Atiku could not address a single international press conference during visit.
“It is shameful that a presidential candidate of a major opposition party in Africa’s most populous country would visit America, and the international press was kept in the dark: There was no single press conference with the array of international media and correspondents required for such ‘high-profile’ visit.
“Atiku knows he has no moral stamina to withstand the avalanche of hard questions bordering on his sordid past in America. In fact, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar claims he visited the Voice of America (VOA) but only did two carefully-packaged interviews with the Hausa service and the English to Africa programme – platforms that have always been available to him back home,” it said.
APC said that rather than being the highpoint of his campaign, the American visit is indeed the lowest watermark of Atiku Abubakar’s campaign.