Abraham Smith Odih, Abuja.
Senate President Bukola Saraki says the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party Atiku Abubakar did not travel to the United States as his aide.
The ruling All Progressives Congress had claimed Atiku was granted an entry visa to the US because he posed as an aide to Saraki.
Speaking on AIT’s Kakaaki programme on Wednesday, Saraki, who is the Director-General, Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, described the allegation as “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 Atiku travelled on my merit is not true.
“He applied for his visa and was given. And he was invited to attend functions (in the US). 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.”
The former Kwara State governor added, “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 had a good agenda for the youths, and knew how to create jobs. But their concern was that the government said Atiku could not travel to America and they asked, ‘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 said he went as my aide.”
Saraki also lambasted the Muhammadu Buhari government for operating an opaque fuel subsidy regime.
The Senate President, who exposed subsidy fraud at the National Assembly in 2011, claimed the situation had not changed.
He admitted that corruption thrived under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s subsidy regime, but argued that the situation had worsened under the Buhari government, because they give money that was not approved by the National Assembly to marketers.