I didn’t walk to prove my fitness to anybody – Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari in Daura

President Muhammadu Buhari has dismissed criticism that he embarked on an 800-metre walk to prove his fitness to continue in office.

The 75-year-old stated this when he received some socio-political groups from Daura Emirate Council, who paid him Sallah homage at his private residence in Daura, Katsina State, on Friday.

Buhari had embarked on a walk from the Daura prayer ground to his residence after the Eid-el-Kabir prayer on Tuesday.

His spokesman, Garba Shehu, said in a statement shortly after: “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.

“I think that if people want to campaign against him, they should do so on issues that are of significance to Nigerians. The President is fit, he is healthy; he is good to go for the second term.”

Opposition politicians including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe seized on Shehu’s statement to attack Buhari for using the walk as a campaign point.

The President has, however, countered his spokesman and critics that he did not embark on the walk to impress anybody.

“I didn’t do it to prove my fitness to anybody. The people of my constituency came out in large numbers to see me, and the car in which I was had tinted windows. So I decided to come out of the car so the people could see me,” the retired army general said in Hausa.

He added that he “not given to chasing cheap political points,” and “don’t need to walk to convince anyone about my health and the decision to contest for a second term.”

Buhari’s fitness has been a subject of speculation following series of trips to London for medical treatment and check-ups.

He only returned from a 10-day vacation to the England capital on Saturday.