FG agrees with US visa ban on democracy saboteurs

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Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government says whatever action taken against anyone who undermines the country’s democratic evolution, watered by the blood of many patriots, would be right and justified. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this on Monday in Abuja at the 20th edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari’ (PMB) Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023).

Mohammed was responding to the decision of the United States of America to slam visa ban on some Nigerians believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the evolution of democracy in Nigeria. The decision was announced in a statement recently issued by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

The minister reiterated the position of the Buhari administration of ensuring free, fair and credible elections as well as a smooth handover to a successor elected by Nigerians in May 29. “As a government, we are proud to say that no administration since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999 has shown more fidelity in the democratic process than ours. No President, since 1999, has been as unambiguous as President Muhammadu Buhari, in word and indeed, with regards to leaving office after the constitutionally-stipulated two terms,” he said

According to the minister, President Buhari had given unprecedented support to INEC, including signing into law the Electoral Bill 2022, which was applauded by Nigerians.

He also reiterated the position of the government to conduct the general elections as planned and scheduled. Mohammed said the scorecard series, during which ministers gave the giant strides of their ministries since 2015, was another indication of the administration’s determination to leave office on 29 May 2023.

According to him, the scorecard series was in essence, a presentation of the handover notes of the administration to those who elected them to office, as they prepare to leave in May. “We have not been mired in any third term controversy like was witnessed under the Peoples Democratic Party. In fact, we are creating the template on a smooth transition of power that will guide future administrations. Let those who undermine our democracy be sanctioned, and let them carry their own cross. As a government, we have no reason to worry because our hands are clean,” he said.

The US Secretary of State, in the statement, had said his country was committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world. He said: “Today, I am announcing visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process in a recent Nigerian election. Under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, these individuals will be found ineligible for visas to the United States under a policy to restrict visas of those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria. Certain family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions.”

Blinken added: “Additional persons who undermine the democratic process in Nigeria—including in the lead-up to, during, and following Nigeria’s 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for US visas under this policy. The visa restrictions announced today are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria. The decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.” As business people, we need not be afraid if we have done nothing to derail Nigeria’s democratic process and have not in any way aided terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and so on. We will not be involved in the mighty name of God.

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