LAGOS (AA) – Nigeria’s opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) on Monday accused the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the government of plotting to kill its presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of next month’s elections.
“The insinuation that the leader of Nigeria’s opposition should or may die ahead of the February 14 presidential polls is not only morbid and fatalistic, but drips of desperation and represents the pinnacle of political paranoia on the part of the incumbent government which has run out of favor with the populace after nearly six years of lackluster performance,” APC spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.
The opposition was reacting to widely circulated newspaper advertorials by governor Ayo Fayose where he suggested that Buhari, 72, could die in office if elected.
The advertorials came a day after the APC quoted an official in the Presidency as saying on the BlackBerry messenger that the government would rather hand over to the military than allow Buhari, a former military ruler, to take over power. The presidency has denied the charges.
But Fayose, governor of southwestern Ekiti state, suggested in the front page adverts that Buhari – on account of alleged ill health – could well die in office like some former leaders from the northern region.
Fayose listed the leaders as General Murtala Muhammed (1975-1976); General Sani Abacha (1998); and former president Umaru Yar’Adua (2010) who was succeeded by the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
While Muhammed was assassinated in office, Abacha died in office under controversial circumstances. Yar’Adua died following some unnamed protracted illnesses.
Those were not the only Nigerian leaders who died in office.
Former Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa had been killed in the country’s first ever military coup on January 15,1966. Head of State General Aguiyi-Ironsi, a southeasterner, was also killed in office in a counter coup in July 1966 to form part of the reasons for the country’s 30-month civil war.
Fayose’s advert restricted itself to mentioning only northern leaders who died in office.
The APC said the advert was “in bad taste”, calling for an international probe into what it insisted amounts to threats to the life of Buhari.
“The Council describes as distasteful the paid advertisement by PDP Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, titled ‘Life and Death and Enough of State Burials…’, as nothing but death plan by the government in power to scuttle the results of the election and prevent the APC from taking over the mantle of leadership of the country,” the statement said.
“Consequently, the APC Presidential Campaign Council has called for an international inquiry into the plot to kill Buhari because of the danger it poses to Nigeria’s unity and democracy and by extension the stability of the West African sub-region.”
Nigeria holds a presidential and parliamentary elections on February 14 in which Jonathan is facing his toughest political battle against an unusually strong and powerful opposition.
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