UAE visa fallout: Atiku blasts Tinubu


…Warns of more propaganda ahead

…Claims President has 15 media spokesmen for propaganda

By Tunde Opalana

Presidential candidate of main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25, 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday fired a salvo at President Bola Tinubu over the misinformation associated with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) visa ban clamped almost a year ago on Nigeria, but which Aso Rock claimed had been lifted.

The Presidential Villa, Abuja, claimed the ban was unclamped following Tinubu’s discussions on September 11, 2023 with UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at at Qasr Al Shati in Abu Dhabi.

The Presidential Villa praised the lifting of the ban as a ”historic agreement”, in a statement signed by presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale.

The statement said that furthermore, by the agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines were to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria ”without any further delay.”

The announcement turned out, barely a day or so later, as false as an official of the UAE government told global broadcast giant CNN that the information was a far cry from the situation on ground, adding that there were ”no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far.”

Yesterday, Abubakar, popularly known as Atiku, raised the alarm over alleged plans by President Tinubu to unleash a regime of propaganda in the coming days.

Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, said in a statement that the fake news regarding the lifting of the visa ban by the UAE was just a “tip of the iceberg”.

Atiku noted that Tinubu had already appointed over 15 media aides with the sole aim of pushing misinformation as a policy of state and distracting Nigerians from the deep pains his administration has caused them.

He alleged that this has always been Tinubu’s style from his days as Governor of Lagos state (1999-2007) and leader of his party.

Atiku’ said: “From information available to us, Bola Tinubu is set to push propaganda to overdrive as he heads out for the United Nations General Assembly. He will claim to have attracted foreign investments amounting to $100billion but will fail to provide key details.

”It is all propaganda. It is all a load of baloney. In India, he claimed they had received pledges of over $14billion just as his predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari, claimed in 2018 that he had secured pledges of up to $6billion. This is nothing but audio investments.

“Last month, the NNPC claimed to have obtained a loan of $3billion with which it would help stabilize the naira. We raised the alarm that it was all a ruse to deceive Nigerians. Now, we have been justified as the naira is now approaching $1/N1,000 on the black market.

“After his trip to the UAE, Tinubu claimed the visa ban had been lifted immediately. Now, they have shifted the goalpost after the UAE authorities revealed that the news was false. This is the sort of embarrassment Nigeria will continue to attract in this season of balablu.

“The report by FTSE revealed that Tinubu’s so-called FX unification policy was failing and Nigeria was degraded from frontier market to unclassified. Having failed to bring economic rebirth, he has now recruited over 15 media aides instead of recruiting more economic experts.

“His list of media aides include: Ajuri Ngelale (Special Adviser Media and Publicity); Tunde Rahman (SSAP Media); Tope Ajayi (SSAP Media and Publicity); Abdulaziz Abdulaziz (SSAP Print Media); Otega Ogara (SSAP Digital/New Media); Segun Dada (SAP Social Media); Nosa Asemota (SAP Visual Communications); Sunday Moses (PA Videography); Taiwo Okonlawon (PA State photography); and Moremi Ojudu (SAP, Community Engagement Southwest).

”Tanko Yakasai (SAP, Community Engagement Northwest); Chioma Nweze (SAP, Community Engagement Southeast); Abiodun Essiet (SAP, Community Engagement North-central); Abdulhamid Yahaya Abba (SAP, Community Engagement Northeast); Emmanuella Eduozor (SAP Multimedia Content Production). This is apart from the Minister of Information and others appointed in the ministry to drive the propaganda agenda.”

Atiku described as ”laughable” that Tinubu, who vowed to hit the ground running from the first day, had held only one cabinet meeting since his inauguration nearly 120 days ago.

He asked Nigerians to remain patient as the Supreme Court prepares to commence work on the election petition appeal.

Atiku added: “Tinubu removed petrol subsidy without any plan whatsoever and decided to hand over a few bags of rice to millions of poor Nigerians. Till date, the minimum wage remains N30,000 or $31 per month based on the parallel market exchange rate.

“This is the punishment Nigerians are facing because the election management body failed to do its work on February 25. This is a manifestation of the words of the Holy Book, which says when the righteous lead, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people suffer.

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“In the meantime, we ask Nigerians to remain patient as the judicial authorities do their job in righting the electoral fraud that has brought Nigerians to their knees.”

The UAE government’s denial has attracted negative reactions at the Federal Government with, among others, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), in a statement, calling on Nigerians ”to be vigilant and critical of any information coming from the government and to verify it from credible sources before accepting it as fact.”

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