From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Imo State governor and chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), made up of governors elected on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, of heating up the polity.
The Ekiti governor had alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari has been on life support since June 6 at West End hospital in London, United Kingdom.
But Okorocha flayed him for engaging in “cheap talk” and “statement of hate.”
The Imo governor who spoke in response to questions from State House Correspondents, yesterday, accused Fayose of going against Nigeria’s tradition and culture by wishing the president dead, instead of praying for him and wishing him well.
“I want to advise that this is what many great nations of the world have passed through before getting to their point of greatness and Nigeria will not be an exemption.
“We must see this time as a trying period for Nigeria and by the grace of God, we shall overcome. So, this is the time to preach love, this is the time to love one another, this is the time to embrace one another, this is the time to preach peace, especially in more of the things that unite us as a people and talk, not at all the things that will divide us.
“And this called to question a statement created to governor Fayose, over the health of Mr. President.
“I want to advise that Fayose’s statement should not be regarded. It was baseless and there was no substance for that information. What he said was not right, it was uncalled for and that is simply heating up the polity.
“In our culture and tradition, we do not play politics with people’s lives and anybody can be sick, anybody can be in hospital and so, making such categorical statement, which is unfounded, that Mr. President is on life support, is, to the best of my knowledge, a statement of hate.
“That is cheap talk and Nigerians should not regard it. What we should do right now is to pray for Mr. President and wish him well. Even as he is sick out there, many people have been sick in Nigeria, so, we should not politicise this and play politics with people’s lives and try to create hate and confusion in the system…
“I think that has become Fayose’s style of talk and Nigerians must never take those kind of talk serious because it is capable of creating confusion in the system.”
Okorocha maintained that Buhari’s absence has not created any vacuum as Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, was constitutionally carrying out the functions of the president, adding that there was no cause for alarm.
“So, that statement is a call for concern. I do not know if he spoke from the point of view of being the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum or he spoke as a person or as a governor. I do not understand but, whatever it was, people must disregard this statement.
“We are not in campaign mode any more. President Muhammadu Buhari suffered a lot of hate campaign when he was running for president. First, his health should be left only for God to decide, it is not for man to decide his fate.
On that note I appeal that everyone should disregard that statement. Mr. President will soon be back to commence daily duties.”
Asked if Fayose’s call was not genuine, Okorocha replied, “Well, I have just said that even the speculation he is making is wrong, it is unfounded. And if anybody is to speak about the President’s health, Fayose does not have the qualifications to speak for the nation on whether Mr. President should resign or stay. It is not in our culture, it is not in our tradition. We sympathise with those who go through pains of ill-health; at that time, we don’t wish them dead. We wish them well. And Mr. President’s office is properly taken care of by Mr. Acting President of Nigeria until Mr. President comes back home and continues his work and finish his term. But to say he should resign is cheap talk and does not make sense in anyway.”
When asked if he didn’t deem it necessary for the presidency to be accountable to Nigerians since Buhari was being treated with tax payers money, Okorocha replied: “Well, let me say to you that if there is an announcement that President Buhari today lacks money to treat himself abroad, believe me, more than 20 million Nigerians will contribute for his health. So, this is neither here nor there. You must understand what he represents and who he is.
“President Buhari naturally does not lack funds, he has never owned funds himself but people supports him if the need be. He lives for the people. He does not live for himself. Bihar must be seen as a great Nigerian who has made sacrifice in many ramifications. You can see that from his family, you can see that from his children. He is not a man of wealth neither does he discuss it. Anytime he needs money, I’m sure millions of Nigerians will contribute even if it is one-one kobo. So, it’s neither here nor there talking about using national resources. He is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we must honour our president, not just because of him, that office belongs to all of us.
“It is very funny when people try to bring down the Office of the President thinking that they are bringing down Buhari. There are two different issue- there is the presidency and there is the person of Buhari, but when it has to do with Nigeria’s presidency it concerns all of us. And we will take it out on any nation that insults our president. We can forgive anybody that insults Muhammadu Buhari as an individual but the presidency of Nigeria is sacred and we must protect it. That is the altar ego of the nation and we must protect it. That is what great people and great nation do.
“So, on that note, I will say that is not an issue for discussion at all.”