• Presidency carpets his critics

By Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Tobi Soniyi and Alex Enumah in Abuja

Former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, has condemned the instigators of media reports that the health condition of President Muhammadu Buhari might have worsened, leading to possible death in Germany.

Some Nigerians in the United Kingdom, under the banner of the UK chapter of Nigerians in Diaspora Monitoring Group (NDMG), also expressed their displeasure at the rumour of the death of the president, saying the purveyors did not mean well for Nigeria.

Anenih, who reacted to the wide rumour yesterday in Abuja, dismissed the report as the handiwork of those who only didn’t wish Buhari well but also didn’t mean well for Nigeria.

The elder statesman said those behind the report, in their hurried bid to propagate their ‘’mischievous and false reports’’, forgot that the president left Nigeria for London and not Germany on vacation during which period he would undergo routine medical check-up.

“This attitude of doing false reports about the death of our leaders have become characteristic in the media and it is not good. I was a victim of this in May last year when I was reported to have died in a London hospital,’’ Anenih said.

He recalled that former President Ibrahim Babangida was also said to have died last year and wondered what those behind the false and mischievous reports intended to gain from them.

“Fabricating such negative and false reports of death about fellow human beings is wicked and ungodly. It is clearly against Biblical admonition that we should pray for leaders and people in authority,’’ the former PDP chieftain said.

He said at this time of economic recession, rather than wish Buhari dead, Nigerians should fervently pray for him to enjoy good health to be able to take the country out of the woods.

Advising the masterminds of the false reports to desist from such despicable act that only portrays them as inhuman, Anenih urged those behind the reports to fear God, ask for His mercy and forgiveness so that they do not invite the wrath of God upon their heads.

He advised the media, especially operators of online media platforms, to always verify sensitive reports before they publish, saying that by doing so, they would save their news subjects and themselves unnecessary embarrassment.

Reacting to speculations about the health of the president, the presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a message he posted on twitter @GarShehu said: “The president cannot be holidaying in the United Kingdom and be in Germany, dead or alive at the same time.”

He said that Buhari “was unlike a past president who was at Ota with Chief Obasanjo and attending the Trump inauguration in Washington DC, being in two places at the same time.”

In his own reaction which was also published through twitter, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said: “Best wishes to all who wish PMB well. As for those who carry evil rumours, may they receive grace to repent.”

Also at the weekend, Nigerians living in the United Kingdom (UK) condemned the rumour, which they claimed was spread by corrupt and unpatriotic Nigerians who did not mean well for the nation.

Speaking under the banner of the UK chapter of Nigerians in Diaspora Monitoring Group (NDMG), the Co-coordinator, Mr. Adekaa Onyilo, in an electronic message to journalist said:  “Those behind the rumour do not mean well for Nigeria as a country that is trying to overcome long years of strangulation imposed by their benefactors.”

Onyilo observed that such rumour reveals the depth to which morals have sunken and the desperation of the beneficiaries of corruption, who according to him, wanted an end to the current war on corruption so that they could again return the country to the path of perfidy.

He said the group was pleased at the promptness with which the Presidency dispelled the evil rumours around the health of the president, who is currently on a medical vacation in the United Kingdom.

“The irresponsible news could only have been floated by those that want to see Nigeria go up in flames. Unfortunately, they failed to realize that the change and reforms initiated by Mr. President would outlive everyone since they are targeted at strengthening institutions and building systems,” he said.

Onyilo said: “We therefore want to warn the purveyors of such rumours to desist from spreading them as their act affect more than President Buhari. At a time when our dear country is working to contain the pressure on the naira, their action has served to further spook the currency and shake investors’ confidence. When this happens, citizens that played no role in starting the lies would suffer for it.” said.

Presidency Carpets Buhari’s Critic

Also yesterday, the Presidency rejected an accusation that the president does not acknowledge his mistakes.

Reacting to a statement credited to a former member of the House of Representatives from Kano, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, the Presidency in a statement by Shehu accused the former lawmaker of distorting facts.

Shehu said: “It is obvious that Dr. Junaid appears be infected by pathological cynicism and these kinds of critics are toxic to national progress because they are only primarily interested in destroying every positive efforts and achievements of the government.”

He said the Presidency decided to break with tradition by reacting to the latest attack on Buhari’s integrity in an interview by Mohammed.

“We advise Nigerians to be wary of prejudiced and biased critics like Dr. Junaid Mohammed who are more interested in personal publicity than respecting facts and figures about their claims,” Shehu said.

He said that while Mohammed was entitled to his opinion, he was not entitled to misrepresent facts about the concrete achievements of the Buhari administration in the past two or so years.

Shehu challenged Mohammed to speak truthfully if he wanted people to take him seriously.

He said the former federal legislator had nurtured the habit of insulting every leader the country had produced in his time.

He noted that  Buhari was not the only target of Mohammed’s personal vituperations, adding that former Presidents Shehu Shagari, Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’    Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, had all been victims of ‘his jaundiced and malicious attacks’.

Shehu said that Mohammed could not criticise the late Sani Abacha because he saw the prospect of elimination.

He said: “Contrary to Mohammed’s claims that Buhari doesn’t acknowledge mistakes, we wish to remind the medical doctor that the president publicly took responsibility and apologized over the dissolution of the Governing Councils of federal universities when it was discovered that due process was not followed.

“We must stress that taking responsibility for mistakes is one of the finest components of integrity, and that President Buhari has never failed in demonstrating this virtue in words and deeds.”

Shehu said Buhari had done very well, citing what he described as,  “the undeniable fact that the Boko Haram terrorists have been significantly crippled militarily, because they no longer have the capability to invade and occupy towns and villages unchallenged by the country’s reinvigorated and motivated military personnel.”

He also said it was to the credit of Buhari that civil servants and political office holders had become afraid to steal with impunity. This, he said, was a major psychological boost for the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration.

He said: “Since the coming of the Buhari administration, the country has saved billions and trillions of naira, which could be diverted to private pockets if the government wasn’t committed to transparency and accountability.

“It is unfortunate that Junaid Mohammed has been using his political retirement life to engage in insulting every President to grab the newspaper headlines, in addition to taking advantage of the gullibility of uncritical readers that don’t bother to subject him to facts-check.”