The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has stated that it will not be drawn into the ongoing controversy regarding the visit of former head of state and candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, to the United Kingdom.
Mr. Buhari’s campaign office had stated that the former head of state was in the U.K. on a working visit.
However, Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state and other supporters of the PDP have claimed that Mr. Buhari is in the U.K. for medical treatment.
Mr. Buhari has already met with former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on Saturday, a meeting Mr. Blair’s office confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES.
The London-based think tank, Chatham House, has also confirmed that Mr. Buhari will speak on the topic: “Prospects for Democratic Consolidation in Africa: Nigeria’s Transition”, at the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES Monday, the spokesperson of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, said the party was not interested in the controversy regarding the trip.
“As a party that has target and vision, we will not be involved in the discussion on that matter. General Buhari’s trip to the U.K. we believe is personal and we do not wish him any harm,” he said.
However, Mr. Metuh blamed the leadership of the APC over the controversy saying they are “mismanaging information regarding the trip”.
“We want to point out that the only question here is the issue of morality and integrity of the APC leadership. They are mismanaging the information as if they have something to hide,” he said.
Mr. Metuh said the APC leadership “have been involved in orchestrating cheap lies and things that will question the very fabric of that party.
“How can you be fabricating pictures that this is what happened in London, using old pictures, trying to sway the minds of the people,” he said.
The PDP spokesperson did not indicate the photographs the APC manipulated.
Mr. Metuh advised the APC leadership to take a cue from the way President Jonathan and the PDP handle matters.
“We want them to be as honest and sincere as our president in handling issues and how the party has been conducting its affairs.
“We are basically disappointed in the way they are handling this issue.
“APC has shown that they have something to hide,” he said.
On the issue of Governor of Ekiti Ayo Fayose’s position on the same matter, Mr. Metuh said the Ekiti governor has the right to take a position on any matter of his choice.
“That is his personal decision and it is completely within his democratic rights as a Nigerian citizen to pursue the course that he decides is best to promote his support. In a democracy, you cannot deny the people their inalienable rights,” he said.
Mr. Metuh said it has never been in the place of the PDP or Mr. Jonathan to curtail the freedom of expression of anyone, especially the opposition, who, he said, has been engaged in “abusing, denigrating and insulting the person of the president, the office of the president and the leaders of the PDP across board”.
“We never bothered to curtail that freedom that they have, why should we now start curtailing the freedom of someone who is saying what he believes in?” Mr. Metuh said.
The PDP spokesperson specifically singled out the spokesperson of the APC, Lai Mohammed, whom he accused of serially “insulting the president for the past three years”.
“Lai Mohammed has been engaged in unleashing lies, deceit and propaganda on Nigerians, often times on imaginary issues, yet we have not curtailed his freedom of choice.
“Now because Governor Fayose decides to pursue an angle with respect to the candidate he is supporting, and makes one or two adverts, or says one or two things, the APC are crying.
“Juxtapose what he did to the many crimes of the likes of Lai Mohammed against the president,” he said.