As outrage continues to trail the advertorial placed by the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, stating that the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) is terminally ill and might soon die, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the governor’s view does not represent the position of the party or the views of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Disassociating PDP and the president from the controversial advertisement, the Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaigns, Chief Femi Fani Kayode, said Fayose did not speak for the president and the PDP as a political party and that the content of the advertisement did not represent the position of the party.
According to Fani-Kayode, “Fayose is a distinguish leader of our party. A democratically-elected governor and someone we have immense respect and affection for and he released this advert in his own name.
“That represents his own personal opinion which he is entitled to, that is what I can tell you on our part as the presidential campaign organisation. It does not represent the opinion of the presidential campaign organisation or indeed the president, it is his opinion which he is entitled to.
“I have spoken with him and we respect him but for any body to suggest that this is the position of the presidential campaign organisation or President Goodluck Jonathan, that will be most unfair. If we wanted to say something like that we will say it without any kind of apology but of course… we will never say that because we believe in the sanctity of life and age is not a function of how long you will live.”
The spokesman of PDP presidential campaign further said: “We believe strongly that we must continue to show immense respect to the person of Buhari in terms of his person and health, though we believe it is important to always raise question about facts, you know what these questions are and we will continue to raise them.”
Speaking on Buhari’s health, he stated: “We do not wish him ill, we do not wish him dead, we wish him long life and we believe strongly that such sentiments can be aired by individuals certainly not in our name.
“Fayose never said that he was speaking on behalf of President Jonathan but for his own self and he said he issued it in his name. And I have emphasised that that is his opinion and he is entitled to it.
“I could only disown if if a statement was purportedly made on our behalf and in fairness to him, he never said that, what is important is to emphasise the fact that his position does not represent our position on this. He is entitled to that position.”
Asked to clarify whom he speaks for, Fani-Kayode said: “I speak for the presidential campaign organisation and it is very important to recognise the fact that we can only control what we put out from here. It is not for us to be telling others what to say. If we feel that what somebody has said has gone too far, we have to clarify the position.
On whether the party would sanction Fayose for such ‘provocative’ statement, Fani-Kayode said: “We may express our concerns privately. We will not do that publicly with a senior member of our party who is a loyal and steadfast supporter of President Jonathan. We cannot be held responsible for the words of others.”
Meanwhile, the APC has described Fayose as a threat to the security and unity of the country.
Submitting that the governor’s action was capable of pushing the country to the precipice, the party berated him for acting in most unstatesmanly way, at a time Jonathan and Buhari had to sign a peace pact on the need to ensure a violence-free electoral process.
At a press conference in Ado Ekiti, the APC state Publicity Secretary, Hon. Taiwo Olatunbosun, said the party had written a petition to President Jonathan and other security chiefs on the need to tame the governor for Nigeria to be at peace.
Those he said were copied the petition included: Inspector General of Police (IG), Alhaji Suleiman Abba; Director General of State Security (DSS), Mr. Ita Ekpeyong; National Security Adviser, Col.Sambo Dasuki and Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers.
The APC spokesman also accused the governor of barring the APC state and national assembly candidates from campaigning through threat and other unwholesome means.
He said: “If a country in partnership with United Nations and INEC could go to the extent of signing a peace-pact between President Jonathan and Buhari and a governor of a state under a federating system is doing everything to ensure that peace does not reign, then something urgent needs to be done.
“The governor even took his hatred further by ensuring that Buhari does not paste his posters and erect his billboards in Ekiti State. All the posters pasted had been removed as I am talking to you despite the fact that we have paid and got permission to paste posters across the state.
“In all his campaigns, Fayose has also been boasting around that he will deal with the APC presidential candidate. I am compelled to ask, what does Fayose’s behaviour portend for the unity, security and development of this country?
“I believe that presidential election is not a local thing, so whoever wants to occupy that seat must be allowed to paste his posters in all the states of the federation. Under this context, Ekiti State cannot be an exemption.”
He advised Fayose and other Buhari’s traducers to rather work hard to propel President Jonathan’s image among the electorate than deploying unorthodox means to muzzle the opposition.
Also, the Kwara State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has berated Fayose over the misapplication of scripture of the bible for a desperate political ends.
The association said such development amounted to a desecration of the power of God.
CAN in statement signed by its Assistant Secretary General of the 19 Northern States and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Rev. Cornelius Fawenu, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Ilorin however urged the governor and other politicians to desist from over stepping divine boundary in order to avoid the wrath of God.
The statement read: “It is crucially important to appeal to Nigerians of other faiths that the wreckless death insinuating threat placed on some national dailies with quotations from the Holy Bible is not biblically ethical.”
Furthermore, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) has condemned Fayose over the advertorial.
The Situation Room is made up of about 60 Civil Society Organisation working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria.
The statement was signed by Agianpe Ashang, a senior programme officer at the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, (PLAC).
Reacting to the advertisement, the group described it as ‘being in extreme bad taste and falls within the category of hate speech’ prohibited under the Electoral Act and other known international laws.
According to the Situation Room, the advertisement negated the Abuja Accord recently signed by the presidential candidates and leaders of political parties for the elections.
It advised politicians to be cautious in their campaign and conduct ahead of the February polls and allow peace to reign in the country.
However, reacting to outrage against his advertorial, Fayose said he had no apology for the advertorial.
The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, in Ado Ekiti, said the truth can never be covered indefinitely, insisting that the APC presidential candidate was too old and ill to be president of this country.
He said that the advertorial was his personal opinion as citizen of this country and not opinion of the PDP, “and I stand by it.”
The governor asserted: “I wish to refer to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who former President Olusegun Obasanjo claimed was hale and hearty to lead this country and subsequently took ill and died.
“I must assure all those who have expressed genuine concerns, unlike the APC that is playing cheap politics over the issue, that my intention is not a death wish for Buhari but a factual position that APC is covering.”