- The Financial Times says President Muhammadu Buhari is battling perception of frailty as Nigeria prepares for its general elections
- The London-based international newspaper says there are concerns if Buhari is physically or mentally up to running Nigeria for another four years
- The newspaper also made reference to Buhari's campaign trail memory lapses and a near fall, which has made many skeptical about his health
The Financial Times of London says President Muhammadu Buhari is battling perception of frailty as Nigeria prepares for the 2019 general elections.
The London-based international newspaper in an article published on its website on Saturday, February 9, says there are concerns if Buhari is physically or mentally up to running Nigeria for another four years.
The newspaper also made reference to the president's campaign trail memory lapses and a near fall, which has gone viral on social media in the last few weeks.
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Read excerpts of the article below:
The huge crowd at last month’s rally exemplified Mr Buhari’s near-mythical status in the country’s populous north, whose votes will be key to determining the winner of a presidential election on February 16. But the president’s demeanour also betrayed some of his greatest vulnerabilities in a closer-than-expected race against former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, the main opposition candidate.
The speech lasted all of a few minutes, as have many of Mr Buhari’s campaign addresses. Critics have used such brevity to question whether the president - who has spent months at a time in London seeking treatment for an undisclosed ailment over the past few years - is physically or mentally up to running Africa’s most populous nation for another four years.
At a recent televised townhall he seemed to struggle to understand the questions and his vice president answered for him so frequently that the anchor was forced to intervene. Along with campaign trail memory lapses and a near fall, the episode gave more fodder to opponents sceptical about his health.
Mr Buhari even felt compelled to publicly address one conspiracy theory that he had died and been replaced with a clone, joking at a meeting with Nigerians in Europe in December that “it’s [the] real me, I assure you.”
The president’s supporters insist that he remains a guiding force, and that his is just a soldier’s reticence - the same that he exhibited as the country’s disciplinarian military ruler for 20 months in the 1980s.
Critics, however, claim that the country is not run by Mr Buhari but by “the cabal” of unelected power-brokers who have long surrounded the president. Even Mr Buhari’s wife Aisha echoed that sentiment in a 2016 BBC interview, suggesting the government had been hijacked by “a few people” who determined presidential appointments.
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The Financial Times article was published days after another British media outfit, the BBC, described the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as Nigeria's political operator with the Midas touch.
There have been rumours that Atiku has gotten the backing of western countries in his quest to be Nigeria's leader.
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