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Jan 16, 2019 | Nigeria

Nigeria's Buhari says well enough for second term

By AFP
Asked about what he would do if he lost, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said only:
Asked about what he would do if he lost, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said only: "It wouldn't be the first I lost an election". By PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (AFP)

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday brushed aside questions about his health as he seeks re-election but was evasive when asked whether he would accept defeat.

Voters in Africa's most populous nation and leading oil producer go to the polls to elect a new head of state on February 16 in what is expected to be a closely fought race.

But Buhari's candidacy has prompted queries about whether he is fit to withstand another four years in office, after he spent months undergoing treatment in London last year.

The 76-year-old former military ruler has never disclosed the nature of his condition, although he has revealed it required multiple blood transfusions and laboratory tests.

Before the last election four years ago, he denied claims from the then-ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that he was terminally ill with prostate cancer.

Asked about his current state of health at the end of a live televised "town hall" discussion with his deputy Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari said only: "I think we have made our case."

He urged voters to assess his fitness on the campaign trail around the country. "Let's see whether I'm fit or not," he added.

"I will go around the stadium and respond to the cheers of voters and explain how we found the country in 2015 and where we are now."

This year's elections will be the fifth time Buhari has stood for the presidency. He lost in 2003, 2007 and 2011, and disputed the results in court.

He was finally successful in 2015 in what was the first victory for an opposition candidate in Nigeria's history.

Then-president Goodluck Jonathan was widely praised for conceding defeat, which helped avoid deadly violence that has characterised the aftermath of previous polls.

Buhari, from the All Progressives Congress (APC) party, is expected to face stiff competition from former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, from the PDP.

Asked about what he would do if he lost, Buhari said only: "It wouldn't be the first I lost an election."

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