Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the February 14 election, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said that campaigns should focus on national issues and not on his state of health and dead Nigerian leaders.
Buhari’s advice came a day after some members of the Peoples Democratic Party raised doubts about his health status and after an advert by Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose warned Nigerians against voting for a 72-year-old man.
In the said advert, Fayose claimed that since three ex-leaders from the North-West had died in office, it would not be wise for Nigerians to vote for Buhari “because we are tired of state burials.”
Buhari, in a message on his official Twitter handle said, “How can his (President Goodluck Jonathan) campaign be talking about ex-dead leaders, jogging around the stadium and outright lies about health?”
Also, the Buhari Support Group Centre on Monday condemned what it described as an orchestrated campaign of calumny and character assassination directed at the APC candidate.
It specifically expressed displeasure with the Fayose’s advert, saying it was not decent.
“In line with the Abuja Accord signed by Gen. Buhari and President Jonathan, the advert in question is to say the least, in bad taste.
“Is it to say that our opponents have a death wish for our candidate? Political campaign should stick to issues and be decent,” the BSGC Director of Publicity, Chidia Maduekwe, said in a telephone interview with The PUNCH on Monday.
The Buhari Support Organisation, meanwhile, said it had started a sensitisation campaign to ensure full compliance with the no-violence accord signed by presidential candidates in the February 2015 general elections.
Several groups, under the aegis of BSO, urged politicians to adhere strictly to the letter and intent of the accord.
State coordinators of the various groups said this at a media briefing in Abuja on Monday.
Addressing state coordinators of the groups, in Abuja, on Monday, the Chief of Staff to Buhari, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.) said Nigerians had had enough of election related violence since 1956.
He said all hands must be on deck to stop reoccurrence.
“We must change the way the world sees us and this 2015 election offers the rare opportunity to showcase our desired new direction,” Ali said.
Also, a former acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, said the advert by Fayose was against the non-violence accord signed by all presidential candidates.
In a statement on Monday, Baraje, a chieftain of the APC, said the Fayose advert allegedly wished for the death of Buhari, who was military head of state between 1984 and 1985.
Baraje, a chieftain of the APC said that the advert credited to Fayose was capable of causing anarchy in the country.
He said, “One would have expected that at the second coming of Fayose as governor he would be more careful and have outgrown his alleged carelessness and irresponsible motor park attitude which is not expected of a governor.
“It is regrettable that barely a week after all political parties, the Independent National Electoral Commission and other stakeholders met to agree on conducting an issues-based and non-violent campaign, a senior member of PDP, who is meant to be the leader of an entire state, could stoop so low to wish death on anyone, not to talk of a presidential candidate.
“The failure of President Jonathan and the leadership of the PDP to distance itself from such comments and call Mr. Fayose to order is a direct indication that they are in support of Mr. Fayose making a mockery of the dead and trying to play God as only Allah is the one that knows the time of the passing of any individual.”
Meanwhile, Buhari, in continuation of his campaign on Monday, told the electorate to defend their votes in the February elections and give no room for any manipulation.
“Do not leave the polling units until the result is declared,” Buhari, who spoke in Minna, Niger State, said.
According to him, anything that may jeopardise the result of the election should not be allowed to take place.
“Where ever you are, defend your votes during the February elections,” he stressed.
The APC presidential candidate also assured the people of the state that he would provide enough electricity to enable businessmen and women to carry out their businesses in a well- dignified manner.
He said if voted he would improve the agricultural sector in Niger State, given the status of the state as one of the food baskets of the nation.
Speaking at the rally, APC National Leader and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, said President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had been characterised by lies, saying that was why the country could not move forward.
“Six years ago, he promised us that he we will step down and will not re-contest, but today the reverse is the case, putting the country into economic mess,” Tinubu said.
He urged the electorate to get their voter cards ready for the elections, saying the cards would bring development to the nation.
At the rally were chieftains of the APC nationwide, including the APC presidential running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo; Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi; and a former governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki.
The deputy governor of Niger State, Ahmed Musa Ibeto, who defected from the PDP to the APC on Monday, was also at the rally.