Last week, the All Progressives Congress, APC, announced that its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, was going to London, UK, to give a talk at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House. As soon as that announcement hit the airwaves, members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led by the sitting governor of Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose, went to town with their own version of the story, that Buhari had been airlifted for treatment in the United States.
To sidestep those stories the APC campaign team released pictures of their candidate in various parts of London, at Heathrow Airport, and with former Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair. However, to counter those stories, various PDP members have alleged that those photos are a) photoshopped; b) dated; or c) taken in Nigeria.
On their part, APC acolytes have pointed out that various addresses given by Governor Fayose are wrong, and in some cases, do not even exist.
To be honest, no one, except for members of the APC hierarchy, is sure of what is true. Let’s face facts: Buhari is well over 70, so it will be expected that he will have a more regular schedule with his doctors than this writer. However, given our recent history, the health of the President, or a presidential candidate is not, and should not be, a private matter. We should not be allowed to forget about Umaru Yar’Adua so soon.
As we eventually found out, Yar’Adua was very ill when he was running for office and it was hidden from Nigerians. He went on to become President, and was treated in a Saudi hospital from November 2009 to February 2010 only to die after he was rushed back as a result of the political vacuum and near Constitutional crisis that his absence created.
With this in mind, it is right for many Nigerians to be concerned about the rumours making the rounds with regards Buhari’s health. We cannot afford to have another Yar’Adua situation, and enough doubt has been sown regarding his health, that should he win, a lot of investors will hedge their bets because of the possibility of a repeat of the Yar’Adua imbroglio. Remember, the markets DO NOT LIKE uncertainty.
The best thing for the APC to do now is to call a press conference, possibly with their candidate’s physician, and address these issues. Failing that, the lack of facts will be filled with all sorts of innuendo and rumours.