APC, PDP bicker over Buhari’s health
A FRESH controversy is brewing over the health status of the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
In fact, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition APC traded words over the issue yesterday, with the former challenging Buhari to jog around the perimeter of a stadium to prove that he is healthy.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, Director of Media and Publicity of PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, said there was need for Buhari to allay fears of Nigerians regarding his health.
Fani-Kayode said: “The health status of Buhari has now become a major issue and it gives us cause for concern. We are not impressed at the fact that his campaign organisation and his political party have tried to speak for him on this matter and we would prefer that Buhari himself clears the air and tells Nigerian people himself that he is not mortally ill.
‘‘The rumour that he is suffering from prostrate cancer is exceptionally worrying and it is incumbent upon each and everyone of us to pray for him if this rumour is true. Once again, we wish to emphasise the fact that it is vital that we have full disclosure about the status of his health. This is made all the more important given our recent history.’’
But fielding questions from reporters at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, Buhari said his robust electioneering campaigns were enough testimony that he was healthy.
His words: “The Vanguard reported that I was to jet out for medical check-up yesterday but here I am. I was in Nasarawa and Benue states yesterday; tomorrow I am going to be in two states. The day after tomorrow in two more states. I am doing two states per day. How they got the impression that I was sick, I do not know. Although I caught cold, that did not stop me from going through my schedule.
“The issue we are telling Nigerians is that of corruption in this country for the last 16 years. PDP has literally destroyed this country. This is the issue and what does my health status got to do with that one that I have been sick on daily basis?
‘‘Documents have been circulated even on Tweeter that I am sick but Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) said they are forged documents. This desperation is beyond my understanding.”
He asked one of the reporters: “How old are you? ‘‘Fifty years old,’’ the reporter replied.
“I am telling you if we go to the field, I will last longer than you.”
The PDP campaign spokesman said that the health status of all persons seeking to be President of the country was a very serious issue which should not be swept under the carpet.
“The truth is that Nigerian people deserve to know the truth before they make their choice about who they will vote for as their President in February. The days of hiding things like a presidential candidate’s health status from the Nigerian public are over and we would urge Buhari to acknowledge this. In this day and age, nothing ought to be swept under the carpet.
‘‘We are therefore constrained to urge him to prove to Nigerians that he really is as ‘’fit as a fiddle,’’ as the spokesman of his Presidential Campaign Organisation has said, by taking a brisk walk or even jogging around the perimeter of the stadium before any of his rallies. If he can do that, it will go a long way to allay the fears of many. Meanwhile, we wish him journey mercies as he travels out of the country for his medical check-up.”
Meanwhile, All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) has lampooned PDP for circulating “a scam medical report on Buhari.”
A statement from Directorate of Media and Publicity of the campaign yesterday said it is ludicrous for the PDP to throw all caution to the wind in its effort to pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians over their rising desire for change of guard at the Federal Government.
The statement, signed by the Director of Media and Publicity of the APCPCO, Mallam Garba Shehu, pointed to the glaring errors on the letterhead paper conveying the purported medical report, which wrongly identifies the institution as Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital instead of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) as it is known.
The statement reads: “The attention of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation has been brought to the circulation of a fake medical record of Buhari.
“We are able to track the circulation of the post on a social media platform and we know that the information emanated from the Facebook handle of one of Governor Ayo Fayose’s aides.
“It is noteworthy that the authorities at ABUTH have given a clean bill on Buhari’s health status.
“It is also noteworthy for Nigerians to understand that PDP will stop at nothing to cast aspersion on the person of Buhari.
“We knew that PDP would become unbridled at a point in its desperation to avert defeat coming its way in the count down to the February 14 presidential election, but to anticipate that PDP would go as dirty as spreading falsehood on an individual’s state of health could not have been imaginable.”
The ex-military leader also spoke on the controversy surrounding his school leaving certificate, his involvement in a purported scandal in the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), and the state of the nation.
Buhari said: “Why didn’t Nigerians ask them if I have not contested three times under the same rules set by the INEC, that there is basic educational qualification you must have and I was allowed to contest all these elections because my certificate was in order and there were individuals that wrote to the United States War College and the college answered them and it was published by some of the newspapers. So, this desperation of misinformation that is being passed around will do nobody any good because our minds are being taken away from serious issues of corruption and incompetence by the PDP.
“Well, the country is broke now, how many states could pay their workers’ salaries? Even in December most families were hungry during Christmas because they could not pay their salary, yet they are talking about individual health instead of paying the workers.
“No, that one has been cleared. There is no fraud in PTF, there was an investigation, and former President Olusegun Obasanjo has answered that question. He confirmed that there was an investigation and the report was brought to him and there was nothing on ground as far as my management and chairmanship of the PTF was concerned. So what else can I say if the person who did the investigation because he was the Head of State had cleared me?”
Also, Buhari at the weekend in Jos promised to tackle insecurity and corruption if elected president.
He spoke at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium in Jos during his campaign tour and decried youth unemployment.
In another statement entitled, “PDP’s Demonisation of Buhari Must Stop,” by Mr. Dele Alake Director, Strategic Communications, Buhari Campaign Organisation, said: “It is shocking that rather than explain itself over the multiple crises it has engendered or has failed to respond to, or offer panaceas to these challenging troubles, desperate PDP candidates and spokesmen have stuck to the tactics of demonising the APC candidate in the presidential election, Muhammadu Buhari, using all sorts of red herrings, abuses, foul temper to whip up hatred against the person of the APC candidate. We hereby alert the general public that that desperation will intensify as the PDP senses the increasing possibility of losing the elections by a wide margin and once again, urge the PDP to honour the violence-free pact it recently signed by halting the violence in its statements.
“One of the red herrings being projected by the PDP and its many hatchet writers in the media is the allegation of corruption and favouritism in the defunct PTF run by Gen Buhari under the Sani Abacha regime and a little after. The critics suggest the existence of dossiers and investigative reports supposedly indicting the APC candidate of unwholesome activities when he presided over the affairs of the agency. But a few days ago, former President Obasanjo, who was supposed to have commissioned the investigation, disclosed that he was in possession of the report and nothing untoward was established against the APC candidate.
To the astonishment of all right thinking persons, the PDP has chosen not to believe in the authority of President Obasanjo who ordered the investigation and has final say on it but prefers to allege that the man who has the fact is dead! Can there be a worse tragicomedy than this? Who really is fooling who?
Similarly, PDP’s agents, and sometimes unfortunately too, President Goodluck Jonathan himself, continue to falsely accuse Gen Buhari of either inspiring the violent Boko Haram sect or conniving at their nefarious activities. Not only are the accusations not proven; not only is the fact that Muhammadu BUHARI’S convoy was attacked by the same sect deliberately ignored the PDP continues to emphasise them, as part of a plot to label the APC candidate as a violent man who has no streak of democracy in him.
“It is true Gen Buhari ruled as a military head of state. But it must also be acknowledged that General Obasanjo also once ruled as a military head of state. Yet, that did not prevent the PDP from nominating and presenting him as its presidential candidate in 1999 and 2003 general elections.
Gen Buhari was himself a victim of Boko Haram attack, and has also lost some relatives to the sect’s violent activities. He has denounced the sect, and has signified his preparedness to take on the militants on a much firmer and intelligent basis than President Jonathan has done in four years. In addition, though his views accorded with military dictates when he was head of state, he has submitted himself without reservation to democratic dictates in the past decade as he ran and still runs for elected office.
“It does not bear repetition to say that no elected president could rule like a military leader, when the constitution is very clear on how democracy must be run and with what institutions that must be done. No elected president can suspend any of the institutions of democracy. we hereby assert with all authority and knowledge that we can muster, that a disciplined leader like Gen Buhari would never engage in the disingenuous and reckless abuse of state security institutions such as invasion of database offices of rival parties as President Jonathan has done.
“It is clear that President Jonathan’s aides, ministers and hatchet writers base nearly all their accusations against Gen Buhari on his period as military head of state. They have nothing on him since then, except fishing for other commentators’ views on the retired general, views that were either politically inspired or else taken out of context. The PDP refuses to acknowledge that the times have changed, and that the dynamics of Nigerian politics and the grave challenges of the moment have made the APC candidate’s style, views and discipline precisely the pressing need of the moment.
One or two PDP ministers even suggested that because Gen Buhari cancelled the Lagos Metroline project in 1984, it proved he did not like the Yoruba. This is another desperate ploy to put a wedge between the Yoruba and the APC candidate, an ethnic ploy that has become the stock-in-trade of the PDP and President Jonathan.
The President must be sorely embarrassed to learn the true story as relayed by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo a few days ago. The fact, according to the revered monarch, is that Buhari did not terminate the Metroline contract but demanded a comprehensive study of the contract and project to ensure that the Interest of the country was protected.
Today’s political and socio-economic needs are not the same as those of 30 years ago, which the PDP ministers and hatchet writers are mischievously emphasising. The nation was already suffering acute balance of trade crisis and the Shagari administration had introduced austerity measures. A new goverment determined to revive the economy needed to address the quality of government contracts.
The PDP spokesmen have also refused to focus on President Jonathan’s own appalling record on integrating the Yoruba into his government, an integration that he only half-heartedly and desultorily began when elections were around the corner.
It is surprising that the same critics and hatchet writers who claimed Gen Buhari targeted Yoruba politicians for extended incarceration after the coup of 1983 ignore the incarceration of Hausa/Fulani politicians. They also contradictorily accused him of attempting to crate a leading Hausa/Fulani and former National Party of Nigeria (NPN) politician from London to face charges in Nigeria, a fact derisively referred to by President Jonathan, when all along they had argued that he left politicians like him alone.
“The fact is that President Jonathan’s mismanagement of inter-ethnic relations, a critical issue in a federal system like ours is the source of the tension that pervades the nation. We wish to draw the attention of Nigerians to the list of President Jonathan’s 109-member Presidential Campaign Council published yesterday and ask if any Yoruba person of substance is on the list.”