Reacting in a message posted on his verified Facebook page yesterday afternoon, Atiku dismissed the presidency claim as “pedestrian.”
Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, mocked the Presidency over its claim that President Muhammadu Buhari’s 800 metres walk was evidence of his fitness to run in 2019.
The former vice president, who is eyeing the presidential ticket of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was apparently responding to a claim by the Presidency that Buhari walked 800 metres from Eid praying ground in Daura, Katsina State, on Tuesday.
Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, had last week, said Buhari was “too old” to rule the country beyond 2019.
But after the Eid prayers, Buhari shunned protocol and opted to trek some 800 metres, acknowledging cheers from supporters who lined up on his home route.
Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, had said Buhari demonstrated his fitness to run for a second term by covering that distance on foot.
“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,” he said in a statement.
But reacting in a message posted on his verified Facebook page yesterday afternoon, Atiku dismissed the presidency claim as “pedestrian.”
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“I regularly jog more than a mile and exercise, but it will be pedestrian of me to ask Nigerians to vote for me because of that.
“I want my party – the PDP and Nigerians-to vote for me because I WORK not because I WALK. I will work to create jobs. I won’t walk to create an illusion.”
Atiku who lost the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Buhari in 2015 recently returned to the PDP to pursue his presidential ambition.
He was Nigeria’s vice president between 1999 and 2007, when Olusegun Obasanjo was president.
In a related development, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) also frowned at the use of the 800-metre trek as a propaganda tool for President Buhari’s sound health status.
He maintained that the walk did not translate into any achievement for the country, adding that since the Presidency decided to play politics with such, it would be better for him and other presidential aspirants to take up a walking contest at the National Stadium in Abuja, not only in Daura, where all Nigerians will see them.
While he demanded to know the surveyors who measured the distance covered during the presidential walking, Frank said for the Presidency to make 800 metres walk an issue in an election year indicated that there “must be something Nigerians don’t know about President Buhari’s true health condition.”
He recalled that former president Olusegun Obasanjo and others in President Buhari’s age have covered more than 1.2 metres and never made noise about it, asking whether the president’s trek has solved the infrastructure deficiency, troubled economy, security threats against Nigerians and other issues confronting the nation under the APC government?
“I strongly believe that propaganda will not work on Nigerians in 2019 elections but the reality on ground. How did ordinary trek become an issue? It is shameful in this time and age for the presidency to expect us to roll out drums because our president walked 800 unverified metres.
“At the time smaller countries like Rwanda and others are celebrating one technological breakthrough or the other, Nigeria’s seat of power want us to be celebrating 800 metres walk by the president. I wonder how this will put food on their table,” he asked rhetorically.
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“If Mr President is that healthy, I challenge him to file out against other 2019 presidential aspirants at the Abuja National Stadium, notin Daura, to determine the fittest. There may be more to the propaganda of this 800 meter trek,” he said.
Frank, however, urged the presidency to fear God and research well before playing politics with doings and undoings of the president.