Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday mocked the Presidency over its claim that President Muhammadu Buhari walked 800-metre as evidence of his fitness to run in 2019.
Mr Abubakar, who is eyeing the presidential ticket of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said he would work to create jobs for Nigerians and not build “illusion”.
The former vice-president was apparently responding to a claim by the Presidency that Mr Buhari walked 800 metre from Eid praying ground in Daura on Tuesday.
Earlier the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, had last week said that Mr Buhari was “too old” to rule the country beyond 2019.
But the News Agency of Nigeria reported that after the Eid prayers, Mr Buhari shunned protocol and opted to trek some 800 metres, acknowledging cheers from Nigerians who lined up on his home route to catch a glimpse of him.
Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, had said that Mr Buhari demonstrated his fitness to run for a second term by covering that distance on foot.
“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 well-being, to continue in office is a settled matter,” he said in a statement emailed to PREMIUM TIMES.
Reacting in a message posted on his verified Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, Mr Abubakar lampooned the presidency, saying the claim was “pedestrian”.
“I regularly jog more than a mile and exercise, but it will be pedestrian of me to ask Nigerians to vote for me because of that,” he posted.
“I want my party – the PDP, and Nigerians, to vote for me because I WORK not because I WALK. I will work to create jobs. I won’t walk to create an illusion.”
Mr Abubakar contested the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, with Mr Buhari ahead of the 2015 elections. The former vice-president however lost the ticket to the retired army general, who would go ahead to defeat then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan at the polls.
Interestingly, the presidential aide, Mr Shehu, whose statement is being faulted here by Mr Abubakar, was a media aide for more than a decade to the former vice president.
It was Mr Abubakar who nominated him to serve in the present government after he (Mr Abubakar) lost the APC presidential ticket to Mr Buhari.
Mr Abubakar recently returned to the PDP to pursue his presidential ambition, but Mr Shehu has stayed on with President Buhari.
Mr Abubakar served as Nigeria’s vice president between 1999 and 2007, when Olusegun Obasanjo was president.