ABUJA The presidential candidate from Nigeria's ruling party has challenged his critics to a game of squash to prove he is healthy enough to rule Africa's most populous nation.
Umaru Yar'Adua, a reclusive 55-year-old state governor who suffers from a kidney condition, made his first public comments about his health since the People's Democratic Party (PDP) chose him as its flagbearer for next April's elections.
"I am fit and healthy. I will invite them to a game of squash," Yar'Adua was quoted as saying to his critics by Nigeria's main newspapers Friday.
"If they can play 12 straight sets with me, they are welcome."
Yar'Adua, a little-known figure in Nigerian politics, won the PDP ticket last month almost entirely thanks to President Olusegun Obasanjo's support.
Yar'Adua's physical condition has become a national issue, with numerous critics predicting that ill health would make him a weak president, allowing Obasanjo to continue to pull the strings.