by Ovie Umukoro
Drama has intensified as emerging reports indicate there is an internal crisis brewing in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the shocking absence of the party’s presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) at a scheduled meet on Saturday with hundreds of his supporters in London.
It was gathered that the forum was hurriedly being organized by a number of Nigerian citizens in the United Kingdom who are keen on seeing the retired general clinch the presidency in the 2015 general polls, to interact with him about his plans for Nigeria.
However, those who thronged the venue, Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster were disappointed as Buhari who is supposed to be in the UK on a working visit was not present. Instead, he was represented by his wife, Hajiya Aishatu Buhari who was accompanied by Dolapo Osibanjo, the spouse of the party’s vice presidential candidate and a few other party stalwarts.
Some of those present were noticeably aggrieved with one of them telling journalists that “the incompetently organized event has done General Buhari more harm than good among his UK supporters as it was not well publicized” and the general was badly advised.
Another stressed that the former head of state’s wife was not the right person to answer specific questions on Nigeria’s development, policies and its future in general and that it was illogical of Buhari to visit ‘expired leaders like Tony Blair’ and not see his people, especially after refusing to partake in any of the proposed presidential debates so far.
Furthermore, the Daura-born general’s no-show at the forum has reignited rumours about his health, with speculations in several quarters that he has a terminal disease and went abroad for medical check-up.
Controversial governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose had cheekily remarked that Buhari’s London trip vindicates his earlier stand that Buhari was sick and lacked the required capacity to rule Nigeria. According to him, “As against the claim of the APC that Buhari was on a short working visit to the UK, Buhari is being treated at a hospital located at Cavendish Street, Cavendish Square, W2 London West End, London.”
He continued, “This is not to mock Buhari or wish him death. Rather, it is to expose the falsehood of the APC and desperation of its leaders, especially Senator Bola Tinubu to foist another Yar’Adua saga on Nigeria.”
A Twitter user, Mukhtar Alex Dan’Iyan, @MryeDee who describes himself as a security expert and political strategist dissected the APC’s claims saying “the fact remains that from all indications, Buhari is on a medical visit to the UK (and then USA).”
Buhari has however spoken out saying he did not visit any London hospital as has been reported in some sections of the media and debunking rumours of his ill-health. In a chat with ThisDay, he said, “I am hale and hearty. I am not in any hospital as claimed. I just finished having talks with the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, in his country home.
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is the APC’s flagbearer in the March 28th general elections, contesting against President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP who is his closest challenger and over ten other candidates who are unlikely to pull off any upset.