The Presidency has refuted reports in a section of the media that President Goodluck Jonathan has checked into a German hospital due to ill-health sustained as a result of his purported “heavy drinking”, saying that nothing could be farther from the truth as the president is in good health.
The Presidency on Tuesday had issued a press statement indicating that President Jonathan will depart Abuja for France where he is expected to join about 50 Heads of State for a summit on Peace and Security in Africa. The statement also added that he would stop-over in Germany for a ‘private visit’ on his way to Paris.
The visit to Germany fuelled speculation that the president was ill and was only using the summit in France as a cover to visit his doctors in Germany for an undisclosed ailment.
Specifically, an online news medium, Saharareporters said that “Contrary to the impression created that the trip was exclusively for the French-sponsored security summit, Mr. Jonathan and his wife will undergo tests and receive treatment in the same German hospital where his wife spent several months last year”.
Saharareporters added “that the Nigerian president had been feeling unwell since returning from a recent trip to London where he was hospitalized for a serious stomach-related ailment” following a bout of bingeing on alcohol in celebration of his 56th birthday last month.
But the Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Reno Omokri, debunked the report saying it was another ‘lie’ that saharareporters had become notorious for.
In a statement released on Thursday, Mr. Omokri said, “The Summit on Peace and Security in Africa which holds in Paris France between Thursday and Friday this week was scheduled months in advance and President Jonathan had confirmed attendance.
“How can travel plans to attend a Security summit scheduled in advance with 50 Heads of State be ‘abrupt’? Did the President also ‘abruptly’ arrange the attendance of the United Nations Secretary General, French President, Francois Hollande and fifty other Heads of State in Paris this week?” he queried.
The presidential aide further reaffirmed the contents of the presidency’s press release from two weeks ago which stated that there was no “bout of bingeing on alcohol in celebration of his (Jonathan) birthday” or on any other day.
Mr. Omokri recalled that President Jonathan was shown on live television on Tuesday at the 2nd North-East Economic Summit in Gombe, Gombe state, where he also paid a courtesy visit on the Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Shehu Usman Abubakar before returning to Abuja for travel on the same day.
“Are these the actions of a man who suffers from ‘abrupt health challenges’?” he asked.
“The public will note that Saharareporters’ story does not provide any proof beyond referring to an unnamed ‘source’. Again, I reiterate that this story is entirely false and we challenge them to produce even the slightest evidence to buttress their claims”.