News of Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP), Atiku Abubakar travelling to the United States after over a decade had gone virile.
While this had generated a buzz amongst the Nigerian populace, with the opposition PDP driving home their point about the noninvolvement of Atiku in his corruption allegations, a report by Judd Legum of Popular Information said Atiku might have employed the services of lobbyists.
Further corroborating what was found initially by Legum, Atiku’s visit to the US has been found to be a temporary reprieve, according to information obtained by Reuters. The American government had temporarily lifted its travel ban on Atiku, as he travelled to the US on the 17th and 18th of January.
This has been celebrated by the PDP and supporters of the former Vice President who have described the visit as an exoneration from the allegations of corruption against him.
He met Congressman, Chris Smith in the United States and was at the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, alongside his Presidential Campaign Director General and Senate President, Bukola Saraki and others.
Lobbyists had convinced Congressmen in the US that not granting Atiku a visa in an election year may be tantamount to not creating a level playing ground for the conduct of a free, fair and credible election in Nigeria.
While his corruption cases still linger, Atiku according to reports employed the services of lobbyists, Holland & Knight, and Ballard to get a chance to get to the US again. According to Reuters, he has paid $80,000 so far.
The services of Ballard had since been employed by the PDP before Atiku’s emergence as Presidential candidate, according to disclosure filings from the US.
“We are not asking the administration or anyone to take sides, but to merely demand the same level of freeness and fairness,” Ballard lobbyist Jamie Rubin told Reuters.
Spokesmen of Congressmen Chris Smith and Michael McCaul both of whom Atiku met during his visit to the US said none of the lawmakers requested a visa waiver for Atiku.
Atiku met Nigerian expatriates in the US and stayed at the Trump International Hotel, owned by the POTUS. According to Reuters, Trump is violating an anti-corruption clause in the U.S. Constitution that limits the president’s ability to accept gifts from foreign governments, further putting Atiku’s decision to use the hotel on the spotlight.