MAVERICK politician, Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe, yesterday dismissed a photograph purported to be of him on social media, in which he sits languidly, with medics around him.
Nzeribe, the brain behind the infamous Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), which set the tone for the crisis that led to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, declared that he was hale and hearty.
The controversial post which was widely shared on WhatsApp shows a man apparently suffering from stroke, with commentaries short on sympathy, but replete with lessons on the vanity of life and the enfeebling capacity of old age.
The picture was posted earlier in the week by a young woman who claimed to be a relation of the Nzeribes.
However, one Mr. Collins Ughala, who identified himself as Nzeribe’s Chief Press Secretary, quoted him as saying he was hale and hearty and not struck by stroke, as being suggested in some quarters.
Ughala in a statement said: The attention of Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe has been drawn to the hateful speeches going on against him in the media, especially the social media, including the unfounded rumour that he has a stroke.
Chief Nzeribe should have ignored this hateful rumour, but to set the record straight, this brief response is offered to the effect that the rumour is false, as I don’t have a stroke.
At 79 years old, I am hale and hearty and not suffering from a stroke. I am not in my community, Oguta, in Imo State. I am resting in my house in Abuja. And I thank God for keeping me healthy and allowing me see old age.
Life and death are in God’s hands, and God willing, I will remain hale and hearty and not suffer a stroke until such a time when God calls me home. And no amount of hateful speech can change or alter God’s plans for me or anyone else.
I am not suffering from stroke and I cannot wish anyone to suffer stroke. But to those manufacturing and spreading this hateful speech against me, I wish them the best.
God has deemed it fit for me to see old age in good health, and there is nothing more to ask from God.
This is not the first time that the senator would be debunking rumours of ill health and death about himself, though.
In 2015, Nzeribe had debunked a rumour that he was terminally ill and that his wife had abandoned him.
Ughala had, on that occasion, set the records straight by explaining that the septuagenarian only had a domestic accident which resulted in some pains in his hip region, and he had to be hospitalised in Nizamiya Hospital in Abuja.
He added then that Nzeribe was hospitalised for just 10 days after slipping in his house,after he successfully underwent surgery to repair a cracked hip bone that resulted from the fall.
Nzeribe was born on November 2, 1938, in Oguta Imo State.
He had vanished from the limelight since he was defeated in the 2006 primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party to elect a senatorial candidate for his Orlu, Imo State constituency.
Obviously struck down by illness and enfeebled by it, he has not been a factor in the Nigerian politics for close to a decade. His voice had been in silent mode since then.
He once ran for office as president and was elected a senator in the short-lived Babangida military-civilian rule experiment in 1999 and 2003.