The Coalition of United Political Parties on Sunday said President Muhammadu Buhari; former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and all other candidates contesting the 2019 presidential election should be subjected to mental health test.
It said the test should be conducted by an independent team of experts in mental health issues.
The coalition’s demand was contained in a statement by its first national spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere.
Ugochinyere said the test was necessary in order to ascertain the state of the mental health of the presidential candidates “so that any person who does not pass the examination should not be allowed to participate in the election.”
He stated, “A country of about 200 million people cannot be living and thriving under the situation of being in doubt of the mental stability of the man who holds their mandate to lead and who is seeking an extension of that mandate.
“The international community is also expressing a similar doubt, hence their reactions to the economy and the withdrawal of their businesses from the country. At no other particular time in the history of Nigeria has the number of businesses that closed down in the almost four years of the Buhari presidency happened before in Nigeria.
“It is on these premises that we demand an independent team of experts in mental health issues to examine President Muhammadu Buhari and indeed all other presidential candidates to ascertain their mental stability before the polling day so that any person who does not pass the examination should not be allowed to participate in the election.”
He said CUPP had secured the assurances of Atiku, who is contesting the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, to subject himself to the medical test for the general interest of Nigeria.
Ugochinyere also urged Buhari to be speaking more to Nigerians and Nigerian journalists, especially through presidential media chat.
He added, “CUPP also calls on President Buhari to face the Nigerian media and stop holding them in disdain as they are professionals and are renowned world over for their expertise.
“How could a President not speak to any Nigerian media house or journalist for over three years? How could a President hold his entire country’s media and citizens in such disdain that he speaks to them only through a crowd of spokespersons many of who have questionable characters and mostly dish out fake news to citizens?
“Is it not to hide the mental status of the President that the yet-to-be-identified two or three people who have hijacked the Presidency, according to the wife of the President, that the President has been directed not to speak outside his written speeches?
“Was this directive not also part of the confessions of the wife of the President when she named persons who were with her who were not going to be happy if she went outside the already prepared speech?
“Nigerians want to know the identities of the persons that write these speeches, their ideologies and their stake in the Nigerian project because many a time, the President reads speeches that are not in tune with the reality as he did during the presentation of the 2019 budget and was rightly booed by the lawmakers.
“This medical examination is very necessary and all Nigerians of goodwill should join this call for the unveiling of the real facts behind this façade presented to Nigerians.”
But the spokesperson for the President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo (SAN), asked CUPP to present their adopted presidential candidate, Atiku, for public mental testing first if they were desirous of any response.
He said, “They should first check the mental status of their candidate (Atiku) for corruption before they could ask other presidential candidates to submit themselves for mental testing.
“They should first check his brain as to why he needed to steal so much as a public officer and what he needed all that money for. Corruption and penchant for stealing is a kind of mental disease. He should publicly subject himself to testing; then we may consider them.”
Atiku is ready for mental test, PDP replies
However, the PDP said its presidential candidate was ready to take part in the mental health test.
The party said part of the test was the expected presidential debate, which it said its candidate would use to answer all questions to the “satisfaction of Nigerians and the voters.”
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said, “You know we have a presidential candidate that is ready to satisfy the yearnings of the majority of Nigerians.
“If submitting to mental test is what Nigerians want, Atiku Abubakar is ready and we, as a party, will back him.”
It’s CUPP candidate that needs mental test – Sowore
Asked whether he would submit himself for mental test as being demanded by CUPP, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, said he did not need to undergo a fresh mental test because he already had a clean bill of health from one of the best health institutions in the world.
He said, “I don’t have any mental-related issue. CUPP should start with its own candidate who has the problem of kleptomania. Everybody knows that I am a very rational person and I have always lived my life in the public domain for 30 years.
“I have undergone medical and mental care over these years in some of the best hospitals. I don’t have a mental issue and I don’t have a medical issue as well. I don’t need to go for any medical test again because I am fine.”
Test will expose kleptomaniacs, others – CSOs
But two civil society organisations, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership and the Campaign for Democracy, have backed the call for mental test for presidential candidates ahead of the 2019 general elections, saying such mental examination would expose kleptomania and other improper tendencies.
The CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said, “The mental test is necessary and such tests will help to determine if the leader is a sadist, a kleptomaniac, a glutton and other psycho-social conditions that subject us to the unbridled corruption that we have been witnessing in this country.
“It is a reasonable call, although it is coming too late in time. The general elections remain only two months and the CUPP ought to have brought up this advocacy when the candidates just emerged. It is not only for the presidential candidates; every political candidate and appointed public office holder must undergo that test, including the heads of political parties as well as ministries, departments and agencies of the government.”
Also the CD President, Usman Abdul, said, “I agree with the mental test. Once a President is not mentally sound, he cannot cope with the complexities of the government, economy and other complicated problems facing this country.
“We saw what happened with the health of the late President Musa Yar’Adua and even presently. We need to know how physically and mentally fit our would-be leaders are and this call must be supported by all who love this country.”
We’re ready for mental test – APGA, People’s Trust candidates
Also, the presidential candidates of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, John Gbor; and that of the People’s Trust, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, have expressed their readiness to subject themselves to mental tests if necessary and constitutional.
Olawepo-Hashim’s Chief Press Secretary, Hassan Ibrahim, made the candidate’s position known in an interview with one of our correspondents.
He said being a major player in the oil and gas sector globally was enough proof that the PT’s presidential candidate was psychologically fit to be the President.
Ibrahim said, “I have not discussed this matter with him personally, but if such test has become important in the nation’s democratic process, I think he will oblige.
“Importantly, Nigerians should know that the People’s Trust’s presidential candidate, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, is a major player in the oil and gas sector globally.
“He has been creating hundreds of jobs both locally and internationally. This, among others, is enough to convince the public that here is a man that is physically and psychologically upright to be the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2019.”
Also, the Director of Strategic Communication of John Gbor and Jerry Chukwueke Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mike Angel, said his principal would abide by anything that was constitutional.
“Gen. John Gbor is ready to abide by anything that is constitutional,” Angel simply said in an interview with our correspondent.
CUPP expressing mere opinion, says Buhari’s spokesman
On its part, the Presidency declined to speak on the issue raised by CUPP on the grounds that the coalition expressed “an opinion.”
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, told The PUNCH that the Presidency would only respond to matters that touched on President Buhari directly and not mere expression of opinions.
He said, “That is not something that I need to respond to. It’s not something I would like to respond to. I will respond to things that touch the President directly. This is just an opinion.”