The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has denied media reports that he is terminally ill.
But shortly after he made the denial in Abuja on Sunday, the Peoples Democratic Party challenged him to take a brisk walk or jog round a stadium if, indeed, he was hale and hearty.
Some newspapers and on-line publications (The Punch not inclusive) had in their Sunday editions, published that the former military ruler was to be flown out of the country for medical attention.
Buhari told journalists that the report on his state of health was orchestrated by some individuals not only to gain undue political advantage but to divert public attention from corruption which had assumed the front burner of national discourse.
He said, “There were reports that I was to jet out for medical check-up yesterday (Saturday) but here I am. I was in Nasarawa and Benue states yesterday (Saturday) and tomorrow (today), I will be in two states.
“The day after tomorrow (Tuesday), I will be in two more states. I sincerely don’t know how they got the impression that I was sick. I had a cold but it did not stop me from going through my schedule.”
Buhari added that a medical document purportedly confirming his alleged poor state of health was fake.
The APC presidential candidate said, “The Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital said the documents are forged.
“This desperation is beyond my comprehension. The issue we are letting Nigerians know is that there has been much corruption in this country in the last 16 years. The Peoples Democratic Party has literally destroyed this country.”
When asked to make a categorical statement on his health, Buhari jokingly asked the reporter, “How old are you, 50 years? I can tell you that if we go to the field, you will not stay as long as I would.”
The APC candidate also used the occasion to debunk allegations that his tenure at the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund was riddled with corruption.
He said that the PTF was investigated and the report presented to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, who recently confirmed it.
Buhari said, “That one has been cleared. There was no fraud in the PTF. Gen. Obasanjo recently answered that question; he confirmed that there was an investigation and the report was brought to him and there was nothing on the ground as far as my management and chairmanship of the PTF were concerned.
“The person who did the investigation as President cleared me.”
The former military ruler also spoke on the controversy surrounding his educational qualification, saying he was surprised that it was coming up now.
He said, “I have contested three times under the same rules set by INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) where there is a basic educational qualification you must have.
“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 they were published in the newspapers.
“So, I really don’t understand this desperation or misinformation that is being passed around. They will do nobody any good because our minds are being taken away from the serious issues of corruption and incompetence by the PDP.”
Commenting on the state of the economy, the APC candidate said despite repeated denials by the Federal Government, “the truth remains that Nigeria is broke.”
Buhari said, “How many states could pay their workers’ salaries? In December, many families went hungry during Christmas because states did not pay the salaries of their workers. So why should they be talking about an individual’s health instead of paying salaries.”
Also, the APC in a statement by the Directorate of Media and Publicity of its Presidential Campaign Organisation accused the PDP of circulating a fake medical report on Buhari’s health.
It said it was ludicrous for the PDP to throw caution to the wind in its “shameless” effort to the pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians who are yearning for a change of guard at the federal level.
The directorate called on Nigerians to the errors on the letterhead conveying the medical report, which wrongly identifies the institution as Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital instead of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital.
The statement partly read, “The attention of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation has been brought to the circulation of a fake medical record of Gen, 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 Gen. Buhari’s health status.
“It is also noteworthy for Nigerians to understand that the PDP will stop at nothing to cast aspersion on the person of Gen. Buhari.
“We knew that the PDP would become unbridled at a point in its desperation to avert the defeat coming its way in the countdown to the February 14 presidential election, but to anticipate that the PDP would go as dirty as spreading falsehood on an individual’s state of health could not have been imaginable.
“What is important is that Nigerians know today that our country is not healthy. They know that the PDP has driven the country to a near state of comatose.”
But the PDP said instead of denying the report, Buhari should jog round a stadium to prove to Nigerians that he was healthy enough to rule the country.
The party, at a news conference in Abuja by the Director of Media and Publicity of its Presidential Campaign Organisation Femi Fani-Kayode, said the rumour that the former Head of State was suffering from prostrate cancer was worrisome.
The PCO said that it was incumbent on everyone to pray for Buhari if the rumour was indeed true.
It added, “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.
“We are constrained to urge him to prove to the Nigerian people that he really is as fit as a fiddle, as the spokesman of his PCO 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.”
Asked if the PDP was in possession of any medical report indicating that Buhari was suffering from any terminal ailment, Fani-Kayode said no.
He said that the days of hiding things like a presidential candidate’s health status from the public were long over.
Written For http://www.globalruns.com