Senate President Bukola Saraki has reacted to the allegation that Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was listed as his (Saraki’s) aide during his recent visit to the United States.
Lauretta Onochie, an aide in the presidency had claimed that the United States Bureau of African Affairs said that Atiku was listed as an aide of the Senate president.
The Bureau of African Affairs which is part of the US Department of State is charged with advising the Secretary of State on matters of Sub-Saharan Africa, was quoted by Onochie to have said Atiku was in Washington DC on diplomatic arrangements.
However, speaking on Africa Independent Television (AIT)’s Kakaaki programme on Wednesday, January 23, Saraki, who is the director-general of Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation said the allegation is false and ridiculous.
He said: “These are desperate claims. When you are campaigning and you see that you have suffered a setback, just move on and don’t make a fool of yourself. To say the candidate travelled on my merit is not true.
“He applied for his visa, was given the visa and he was invited to attend functions. How do you do that? How do you travel as an aide? That is ridiculous! They know it. It is very difficult for them to respond because they have sold a lot of propaganda and lies to Nigerians.
“I remember when we sat a lot of young people down when we started and introduced him (Atiku) as our candidate and they said they would support him because he has a good agenda for the youth and knows how to create jobs but the concern was that the government said Atiku could not travel to America and how can we have a president that cannot travel to America?
“And he (Atiku) always said it was not a problem but it was important for us to address the problem and put it behind us and because the other party was using it as propaganda, we decided to go to America and instead of them to keep quiet and move on, they say he went as my aide.”
Saraki also berated the Buhari-led government for operating an alleged opaque fuel subsidy regime.
Though he admitted that corruption thrived under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s subsidy regime, the Senate president argued that President Buhari’s own was worse because his government was giving money to marketers with funds that were not approved by the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, we reported that an aide to the Senate president, Olu Onemola, had earlier debunked the claim that Atiku was listed as legislative aide to Saraki to obtain visa to the United States of America.