Ahead of the 2019 election, the issue is rearing its ugly head again. Now, the president and his traducers are back on a familiar turf.
“If you take your re-election for granted,
you’re begging to get axed.” – Krzysztof Pacynski
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari is doing everything humanly possible to up his game and bolster his chances of winning a second term in office. As a retired Army General, he fully understands the importance of preparation when going into a combat, more so when electoral contests in this part of the clime is akin to war. And so recently, he took a well-deserved rest in his choice destination, London, during his 10-day vacation. He returned on Saturday, August 18. And on Tuesday, August 21, he showed doubting Thomases that he is physically ready to square up to his opponents in the 2019 presidential poll.
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With many Nigerians, especially the opposition, suggesting that he is not physically fit to continue to preside over the affairs of 198 million Nigerians beyond May 29, 2019, the president shunned protocol and chose to demonstrate his fitness to run for a second term by trekking from the Eid praying ground in Daura, where he had gone to offer the Eid prayers with other Muslim faithful in the town, to his private residence. The distance is reportedly about 800 metres. As he walked, a tumultuous crowd cheered him on.
According to his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s bravado served two purposes: “One is to say that the president is responsive to the enormous support and commitment of his own people that 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 wellbeing 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 second term.”
READ ALSO: Buhari’s second term ambition
Buhari’s age and health status were major campaign issues in the build up to the 2015 election. In fact, his opponents spewed all kind of conspiracy theories in their bid to stop him, including insinuations that he would die in office if elected as president. Nevertheless, he defied the odds and won the election. And he is still alive today administering Nigeria to the best of his ability. Ahead of the 2019 election, the issue is rearing its ugly head again. Now, the president and his traducers are back on a familiar turf. Thus, it is very likely that Nigerians would witness more episodes where the president would engage in one energetic activity or the other in an attempt to deflate the argument of the opposition concerning his age and fitness.
But shouldn’t the 2019 presidential election campaigns rather be about issues as the president’s media aide, Shehu, suggested? If yes, then the onus is on Buhari’s campaign team to furnish Nigerians with the achievements of the administration in the last three years, two months and 26 days. Buhari
had won the 2015 election on the back of the promise that he would fight corruption, improve security and revive the economy. Nigerians would decide whether to grant him a second term or not based on their assessment of his performance on those key issues, not on his ability to trek far distances, many reasoned. And for the opposition, executing a decent campaign against Buhari, they say, requires critiquing the policies and programmes of his administration and juxtaposing them with that of the previous administration. Anything short of that would amount to mudslinging, which is detested in all sane democratic society.
Born on December 17, 1942, in Daura, Katsina State, Buhari had a successful military career and retired as a General of the Nigerian Army. He served as Head of State from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985, after taking power in a military coupd’état. He unsuccessfully contested for the presidency in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 general elections. In December 2014, he emerged as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the March 2015 general elections. He won the election, defeating the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. He was sworn-in on May 29, 2015, and now has declared his intention to seek re-election in the 2019 general election.