The All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has again defended his fitness, saying no ailing person can successfully perform seven trips as he did at Umrah.
Tinubu made the statement in an interview with Kano premier independent radio station, Freedom Radio, in Saudi Arabia shortly before he returned to the country.
Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that is undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Ḥajj, which has specific dates according to the Islamic calendar.
The former Lagos State governor arrived at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, on Sunday night where he was warmly received by his loyalists and party supporters.
The APC candidate insisted that he is fit for the office of the president, adding that his critics had nothing else to peddle but lies and speculations.
He said, “I just finished performing the Umrah. I did the seven rounds of tawaf and did the seven trips between Safa and Marwa by myself. Can a sick person do that? That is stale news my brother.
“People who are making those insinuations have nothing else to say but lies and rubbish. I have moved round, spoke at different platforms and stood for hours to address different audiences. Before they said I could not walk. They said I could not stand but they are shamed.
“Since the campaign started I have marshalled more original ideas than anyone else. I have demonstrated knowledge, experience and great capacity to be on top of issues in the country. And this job is about ideas and issues regarding leadership of our country. I have all it takes to be the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I am asking people of the country to have confidence and respect for that, look at my background and my previous assignments. I want to serve the country and serve the country very well.”
While disclosing his Umrah trip as a spiritual rebirth, he stated that the country is in dire need of prayers.
“It is a personal trip. It is a trip for spiritual rebirth. I like coming to perform the Umrah every now and then. It is an opportunity to connect with almighty Allah, Lam ya lid wa lam yulad. We need his guidance. Nigeria is in need of prayers and that is why we are here praying for our country, self and the society.”
This is even as he defended his introduction of town hall meetings and political engagements, saying holding rallies across the country is not enough to win the 2023 presidential election.
“We are reaching each and every Nigerian. We decided that rallies are not always enough. We need to engage all Nigerians from all parts of the country and across all sectors of our socio-economic life. We have engaged businessmen, farmers, miners, industrialists, entertainers, labour leaders and so on.
“By the engagements we are having, it is clear that we are going to win this election. As the elections are coming closer the signs are clear and that is why our opponents are jittery. They have now resorted to peddling fake news and quoting some of my statements out of context just to score cheap points.
“Recently I was asked about fuel subsidy removal and I said I will ensure we end the wastage and re-channel the money to the people who truly need it. This is one position that almost all the candidates are united about. We all agreed that the subsidy regime is abused and it favours the rich more than the poor. It has to go. I couldn’t have opposed people expressing their own position on this.
“I believe in consultation and guaranteed by democratic values and norms. I respect opinion of people and I would not be party to stifling dissenting views or any legitimate protest. I am a veteran of protests myself. So why should I say people should not embark on well-intentioned protest? There is no excuse for that and there is no abuse of power intended,” he said.