There were indications, on Sunday, that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, was flown out of the country for urgent medical attention.
The spokesperson for the PDP campaign council, enator Dino Melaye, however, dismissed the report describing it as a joke of the year.
An online tabloid had reported that the former Vice President was flown on Sunday from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to London, United Kingdom for treatment.
“Atiku is not feeling fine; he is in the hospital receiving treatment. That’s why he is not back in Nigeria for the presidential campaign.
“He was in Dubai but has now left Dubai for London for treatment. He has been flown to the UK for treatment. That is why he is still abroad,” the tabloid quoted an unnamed PDP source as saying.
Reacting to the online publication, the media adviser to Atiku, Mr Paul Ibe, said the PDP candidate will, on Monday, arrive in London, even as he dismissed the report of ill health.
Taking to his verified Twitter handle @omonlakiki, Ibe said, “For the avoidance of doubt, presidential candidate of the PDP and former Vice President of Nigeria (1999-2007) will be arriving in London on Monday, January 9 for meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday on the invitation of the British government.”
Also speaking, Director, Strategic Communications, National Election Management Committee of the PDP Campaign Council, Dele Momodu, urged Nigerians to ignore the report in its entirety “because it is completely false.”
In a telephone conversation with our correspondent, Momodu said, “The man went on vacation. Anyone who knows him can tell you that the man (Atiku) does not joke about his vacation.
He went to Dubai from where he would be leaving for London on Monday. When he arrived in Dubai, I was the first person he spoke with. I was in Turkey at the time.
“The report is the joke of the year. How can a man who is hale and hearty be flown out? Does it mean anytime a prominent Nigerian who doubles as the leading candidate in next month’s presidential election travels out of the country, it must be as a result of ailment? The man is already preparing to return to Nigeria to join the campaign council in Kogi state this weekend.”
On his part, the spokesman of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation, Kola Ologbondiyan, called on those desirous of identifying sick candidates to beam their searchlights “on the right persons,” saying, “why can’t they focus on those who are sick? Are they not seeing a candidate who is often teleguided on what to say each time he appears before the public? They always whisper to him what to say.
We’ve seen a candidate who receives support from both sides to be able to stand on a podium to speak. Why are they leaving a sick candidate to be spinning lies about a healthy candidate? This is shocking. If they want to write about sick candidates, they should focus on the right persons.”
Another campaign spokesperson, Senator Dino Melaye also dismissed the report as he urged Nigerians to “disregard the lies of unrepentant liars. Atiku is 100 per cent fit and in super form, health-wise. The British government invited the leading presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, just like that they had invited Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi earlier.”