Envoys’ visit to Atiku not political, says PDP

The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Debo Ologunagba, says the recent visits by diplomats and ambassadors of Turkey, Israel, South Africa and France are clear evidence of the global respect that the PDP presidential flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar, commands.

This is even as the PDP spokesman disclosed that such visits may not necessarily be political given the pedigree of the candidate as an astute investor, administrator and exceptional public servant.

Atiku hosted the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hidayet Bayraktar, at his Asokoro residence on June 17 where they extensively discussed how to strengthen bilateral relations between Nigeria and Turkey.

He again played host to the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Thamsanqa Mseleku, on July 28 in Abuja.

 Similarly, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing and the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Michael Freeman, also met with the former vice president.

But an indifferent Ologunagba said, “I speak for the PDP and don’t like speculating. For us, Atiku is free to receive visitors. Such visits are important and may not necessarily be political. He is a presidential candidate, a world-class figure, an investor, outstanding administrator and exceptional public servant. He is also a unifier.’’

Atiku’s Media Aide, Paul Ibe, stated, “Anybody who seeks to engage Atiku Abubakar must be a person of value. I don’t see anything unusual in his meeting with diplomats. Apart from being the PDP presidential candidate, such engagements are normal.’’

Reacting to the visits, a professor of political science at the Lagos State University, Sylvester Odion believed that Africa is always the focal point of the Western world for obvious reasons.

He noted that apart from Atiku, the number of diplomats patronising his counterparts in other parties are also on the rise.

Odion said, “The first caveat is that external forces are fundamentally involved in African politics. That is also because Africa is the last resort continent. They are interested in new colonial control of the continent. This is why they are courting presidential candidates knowing that whoever wins can approve of them.’’

Another political analyst, Prof Remi Aiyede, emphasised that it may be difficult to determine what the visit is actually about unless the ambassadors or the PDP candidate disclose the specific purpose.

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