The United States-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, which invited the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari, to its programme scheduled for Monday, has cancelled the event.
Consequently, Mr. Buhari will no longer travel to the U.S.
The organisation’s Director of African Programme, Jennifer Cooke, disclosed this in a mail sent to PREMIUM TIMES Friday in response to this newspapers enquiry on the visit.
She explained that the cancellation of the trip was because of a change in Mr. Buhari’s schedule.
Mr. Buhari and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, President Goodluck Jonathan, both frontrunners in the February 14 presidential election, were invited by the organisation to speak on Nigeria’s future.
However, media reports had erroneously suggested that Mr. Buhari, who had planned to make the trip on on Saturday, ahead of the event, scheduled for January 26, was travelling to the US on medical grounds.
In an earlier inquiry, the organisation had said the APC presidential candidate was invited to its Washington headquarters “to give a major public address on Nigeria’s future as it stands on the edge of a pivotal national election.”
Ms. Cooke, in her response to this newspaper’s enquiry on Friday, said the cancellation of the trip was due to “a change in his (Buhari) schedule.”
“First, I want to make you aware that, because of a change in his schedule, Gen Buhari will not be travelling to the United States, and the event on Monday has been cancelled,” she said.
She explained that the leading presidential candidates were invited to enable them share their perspectives on the elections.
“The CSIS Africa Program issued almost identical invitations to both leading political candidates (President Jonathan and Gen. Buhari) to share their perspectives on Nigeria’s forthcoming elections and Nigeria’s future more broadly,” Ms. Cooke said.
“There is considerable interest among U.S. policymakers and the Nigerian Diaspora community in the February 14 elections, and an interest in hearing from both candidates first hand their thoughts on how best to ensure that the elections will be free, fair, credible, and peaceful.
“The Africa Program has no position on which candidate should or will be successful.”
She said over the years, the programme had provided a neutral ground to profile the views of different relevant institutions and political parties.
According to her, “Over the course of the last year, through the CSIS Nigeria Election Forum, the CSIS Africa Program has provided a neutral venue to profile a range of views from Nigerian civil society organizations, political leadership of both parties, and government officials.
“The series has aimed to convey to a U.S. policy audience what is at stake in the forthcoming elections and support efforts to ensure that the electoral process is free, fair, credible, and peaceful.”