The United States Consulate, Lagos on Friday said the US visa status of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar remains a strictly confidential matter which the American government will not discuss publicly.
The Public Affairs Officer (PAO), US Consulate, Lagos, Brussel Brooks, maintained that irrespective of the interest of the public in the matter, the US government will give the matter the strict confidentiality that it requires.
Brooks said this in an interview with journalists at the end of an education forum organised for 150 teachers and students drawn from various public schools in Oyo State.
He said: “The position of the US Mission has remained the same throughout any discussion of this issue, that visas are a confidential matter.
“We don’t discuss individual visa’s status of any person, whether it be a highly rated official, a presidential candidate or an average citizen.
“Anyone who applies for a visa should know that there will be some records that are confidential. It is classified as private document by the United States Government and we never discuss them now public.
The event where Brooks spoke was held at the Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan. The programme was tagged: “Teaching Resources: Availability, Applicability and Appropriateness” It was organised by Fulbright Language Scholars’ Association under the leadership of Miss Tolu Akinwole and funded by the US Consulate.
Brooks acknowleged that the visa controversy of Atiku, the PDP presidential candidate for 2019, has been a topical political matter. He however advised that candidates should be challenged on more important issues.
His words: “We would only enjoin candidates at all levels, especially presidential, governorship and National Assembly, to focus on issue-based campaigns and avoid distractions,
“We advise Nigerians to ask candidates at all levels the plan they have to improve education and other aspects.
“Often times unfortunately, campaigns are full of distractions, things that are not that important to the lives and welfare of average Nigerians, especially the children that are with us today. What is important for them is to give them the opportunities to serve in order to thrive in today’s world.
“This means they need a good education. The school should be improved. When I heard the letter from the students describing their lack of books and dearth of desks in their school. This is very disheartening… There are things that should be corrected.
“I will also encourage parents and voters to ask the candidates what they plan to do to improve education. I think issue-based campaigns will be beneficial to all Nigerians.”
Dignitaries at the event include representatives of Oyo State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, students, teachers among other stakeholders in the sector.
The organisers said the programme had trained a total of 350 teachers in Oyo and Ondo States in 2018 with the focus of “igniting vibrant teachers and provide solutions to observed inability of students to apply lessons they learn in classrooms to everyday life.”