A Nigerian sports betting firm, NaijaBet has dismissed claims that it disrespected the country’s ailing president, Muhammadu Buhari, who is currently in London undergoing treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
“We would just like to put this on record, Nigerians want their president back, we are only trying to voice the yearning of the people via the little platform we have,” NaijaBet tweeted yesterday in reply to a tweet by The Guardian on the subject.
The president’s return to Nigeria has been subjected to a lot of speculation though his office has consistently maintained that he would return only when his doctors give him the go ahead.
But speculations surrounding his imminent return were heightened earlier in the week when the presidential jet that has been on standby in the United Kingdom since May 7 reportedly left London.
NaijaBet, in the light of the growing assumptions, decided to give punters a chance to bet on President Buhari’s likely return date. The move has been interpreted by some Nigerians as a slap on the ailing leader, but the betting company said it did not mean to disrespect the 74-year old president.
“We want to show the president and the government that the people are anxious for his wellbeing and anticipate his early return (hence the short window dates as betting options).”
This is coming days after the United States television medium, Cable News Network (CNN) mocked Nigeria over Buhari’s continued absence in the country in its last edition of “The Global Public Square (GPS)”, a foreign affairs show anchored on CNN by Fareed Zakaria.
In an apparent mockery of Nigeria and her president, CNN, on its programme displayed: “The head of state from which country has not set foot in his homeland in over two months?” It went ahead to tick an option with the name Nigeria as the correct answer. The options were given as Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Nigeria and Syria.