Buhari demonstrated fitness for second term by trekking 800 metres, says Presidency
The Presidency said President Muhammadu Buhari has demonstrated his fitness to run for a second term by trekking 800 metres from the Eid praying ground in Daura to his private residence.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that after the Eid prayers, President Buhari shunned protocol and opted to trek some 800 metres, acknowledging cheers from Nigerians who lined up on his home route to catch a glimpse of him.
A presidential aspirant and incumbent governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, last week alleged that Buhari was “too old’’ to rule the country beyond 2019.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is just too old to be Nigeria’s leader, despite his integrity and impeccable character,” Tambuwal stated this during a solidarity visit of students and youth in Sokoto, last week.
He added, “We love President Buhari and that was why we supported him in 2015 unconditionally, and while doing that, we are too sure that he will seek re-election after his first term. But when things are wrong, we have to tell him.
“We still believe in his integrity, patriotism and courage, but these are not enough for a leader.
“We all know that there is a vacuum in the government occasioned by his indisposition probably because of his old age or health condition.
“That is why Nigerians are yearning for younger ones to lead this country.’’
However, Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said the trekking by the president was a positive response to Tambuwal’s diatribe.
“I think there are two things here; one is to say that the President is responsive to the enormous support and commitment of his own people who had come out in their numbers to see him and he just decided that he couldn’t go on riding in a black vehicle and he came out and walked to the distance.
“The second thing, he is curious that these days, one or two people who are aspiring to be President are campaigning on their youthfulness and good health.
“I think the President has done one thing today – that the issue is not how old one is but how fit he is; how healthy he is. Now that the President has proven his fitness and well-being, to continue in office is a settled matter.
“I think that if people want to campaign against him, they should do so on issues that are of significance to Nigerians. The President is fit, he is healthy; he is good to go for the second term,’’ he said.
However, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has said the 800 metres trek by President Buhari should not be seen as a yardstick for good health.
The spokesman for the group, Mr Akin Osuntokun, stated this on Tuesday on a Channels Television programme, Politics Today.
He said, “There is no healthy 75-year-old man who will invite you to come and see him walk for 800 metres as an indication of his good health. I am not a doctor and, of course, we have our own different yardsticks of what constitutes good health. Trekking a distance of 800 metres, for me, is not. And I don’t see any reason why it should be.
“And this has become an issue because the health of the President is an issue. That is why in advanced countries and I’m sure is also done here, you are required to have a physical and medical examination on a yearly basis. So the health of the President, as a matter of fact, is a priority issue.”
Also, in an interview with one of our correspondents later on Tuesday, Osuntokun described as ridiculous the Presidency’s claim that Buhari’s 800m walk was an achievement.
Osuntokun said only a wheelchair-bound person or a cripple would celebrate an 800m walk.
He said it was unfortunate that the leader of the most populous black country in the world would be celebrated for walking less than a kilometre.
Osuntokun said being the President of Nigeria required 24-hour attention, hard work and total dedication to the work, a job which required fitness.
He said, “It is unfortunate that the Presidency of the giant of Africa has been brought to a level whereby walking for less than a kilometre is described as an achievement. It is ridiculous.
“Only a person who was in a vegetative state or crippled should celebrate the ability to walk for less than a kilometre.
“It is a pity that this is what Nigeria has been brought to. Let it be known that being Nigeria’s President requires 24-hour dedication and hard work and not just the ability to walk for half a kilometre. “