The All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, on Sunday, dismissed doubts about his medical and educational fitness for the presidency describing such allegations as distractions by the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to deviate from the core campaign issues of corruption and incompetent leadership.
Accusing the PDP of desperation having run out of ideas, Buhari at a press conference in Abuja, further challenged the ruling party to address the fallout from the poor management of the economy which he claimed made many Nigerian workers to spend the last Christmas hungry.
The press conference by Buhari, the first by any of the major presidential candidates followed wild allegations of his alleged ill-health and lack of the educational qualification for the election.
The speculations around Buhari followed newspaper reports at the weekend which alleged that the former head of state was about to travel abroad on account of his alleged ill-health.
Debunking the reports, Buhari described the medical report widely circulated online at the weekend as forged as he said that the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital which reportedly issued the report has disclaimed it as a forgery.
According to him, “I was at Nasarawa and Benue states yesterday (Saturday). 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 got cold and that did not stop me from going through my schedule.
“I don’t know of this desperation. 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 has my health got to do with that one?
“Document have been put in the papers, on twitter that I am sick but the ABU said they are forged documents. This desperation is beyond my understanding.”
When asked by a reporter to make a categorical statement on his state of health, Buhari jokingly asked the reporter: “How old are you? 50 years? I am telling you if we go to the field, you would not last the time I will last in the field.”
Campaign officials further disclosed that the proposed trip by Buhari was upon a request by the United States Department of State which was desirous of sounding him out on his views.
The trip according to a campaign official scheduled by the State Department towards January ending had not been agreed to by the Buhari campaign team.
“Yes Buhari was invited by the State Department for an interaction but he has not been able to fix a date for it because of the hectic campaign schedule and it is our view that he may not have the time for the trip,” the campaign official said.
On the issue of his certificates, Buhari expressed surprise that all hell has been let loose on the issue, wondering where his accusers were when the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, cleared him to contest the previous elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
“I have contested three times under the same rules set by the INEC. 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 your papers.
“So really this desperation of misinformation that is being passed around will do nobody any good because our minds are being taken away from the serious issues of corruption and incompetence by the PDP”, he said.
Buhari, who was chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, also responded to renewed accusations of corruption against him in the management of the PTF.
“That one has been cleared. There was no fraud in PTF. There was an investigation and General Obasanjo has 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 was concerned.
“So what else can I say when the person who did the investigation because he was the Head of State cleared me? So what else can I say?”
Buhari slammed the PDP, saying they should concentrate on paying workers’ salaries than playing politics with his health.
“Well, the country is broke now. How many states could not pay their workers’ salaries? Even in December most families were hungry during Christmas because they could not pay their salaries, yet they are talking about an individual’s health instead of paying the people”, he said.