In trying to deflect criticisms, spokesman for the All Progressives Congress presidential campaign, Festus Keyamo, has claimed Bola Tinubu was showing a “sense of humour” when he struggled to mutter an incoherent word, “Balabloo-blu-bulava.”
On Wednesday in Owerri, the Imo State capital, Mr Tinubu, the flag bearer for the APC in the 2023 election, at a meeting with private sector stakeholders, tried to justify his shunning of town hall and debates organised by media organisations during his remarks.
He slurrily said, “a town hall, different from “balabloo-blu-bulava”, to the consternation of his listeners. It was not clear if APC presidential candidate was struggling to pronounce “hullabaloo”.
The apparent gaffe has elicited much criticism among Nigerians, with many pointing it out as further evidence of Mr Tinubu’s mental inadequacy.
But Mr Keyamo is attempting to water down the misspeak as a deliberate “sense of humour” by the politician.
Sharing a video of Mr Tinubu’s incoherent speech on Twitter on Friday, Mr Keyamo said:
“Listen to the sense of humour of @officialABAT. He says he prefers a proper town hall meeting to the gibberish his opponents say elsewhere.”
“He practically demonstrates the gibberish they say by uttering those tongue-twisting words to show the nonsense his opponents say elsewhere,” Mr Keyamo added.
Mr Tinubu, a septuagenarian, has been under strict scrutiny by Nigerians for his frail health. His many public gaffes, which critics say are symptoms of dementia, are constantly being highlighted as Nigerians get ready to elect a new leader on February 25, 2023.
At the flag-off of his campaign in Jos this week, Mr Tinubu suffered an embarrassing slip, screaming “God bless PD-APC at Jos presidential rally.” It was an unintended reference to opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before quickly retracing his speech to properly mention his party, the APC
The former Lagos governor had in October, hailed Kaduna governor Nasir El-Rufai’s creativity in turning the fortunes of his state from a “rotten situation into a bad one.”
Before then, the APC presidential candidate had forgotten how to pronounce the name of his party, referring to APC members as belonging to the “Action Group” party.
“And the commitment for us as members of the Action Group,” Mr Tinubu said while addressing members of his party in a viral video seen on social media in July.
Earlier in April, Mr Tinubu told Nigerians that their Permanent Voter Cards are “expired,” a claim refuted by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
In February, Peoples Gazette published a video revealing how Mr Tinubu’s flowing garment was soaked from behind, with his security aide covering his nose, apparently enduring a foul odour. Many claimed Mr Tinubu could be suffering from incontinence.
Mr Tinubu has consistently dismissed criticisms about his frail health, claiming physical strength is not the most important in leading the most populous African nation.
Analysts say Mr Tinubu is a candidate to beat at the election featuring co-septuagenarian and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, former Anambra and Kano governors, Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso, respectively.
Many Nigerians are however worried about handing over the country in need of a strong and present manager to another medically unfit leader after incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari oftentimes left the country in quandary to attend to his medical needs abroad.