Under pressure to distance himself from some of his campaigners’ questionable moves and comments, President Goodluck Jonathan today told Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State that age was not a determinant of how long someone would live.
Mr. Jonathan’s campaign office made the statement in the face of growing criticism of an advertorial paid for by Mr. Fayose and published in some Nigerian newspapers. In the political advert, the governor insinuated that Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was likely to die in office.
Speaking to reporters in Abuja today, Femi Fani-Kayode, the Director of Media and Publicity of President Jonathan’s campaign organization, said the advertorial represented Mr. Fayose’s personal opinion, adding that the governor was entitled to that opinion. However, Mr. Fani-Kayode added that the advert “does not represents the opinion of the presidential campaign organization or indeed the president.” He described Governor Fayose as “somebody that we have immense respect for” and “a leading member of the party.”
In a deft attempt to both curtail the damage from Mr. Fayose’s indelicate advert and boost a governor who is one of the most upbeat campaigners for a president who is considered by many within his own party as damaged goods, Mr. Fani-Kayode said, “I have spoken with [Mr. Fayose] and we respect him, but for anybody to suggest that this is the position of the presidential campaign organization 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.” He added that age was not a determinant of how long one would live.
“It is important that we recognize the fact that age is not an indication of how long somebody will live,” said Mr. Jonathan’s spokesman. According to him, “We believe strongly that we must continue to show immense respect to the person of General Buhari.” Even so, he added that it was “important to always raise question about facts. You know what these questions are and we will continue this raise them.
“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, [but] certainly not in our name.
“Fayose never said that he was speaking on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan but for his own self and he said that he issued it in his name. And I have emphasized that that is his opinion and he is entitled to it.”