Oyedepo seeks official statement on controversy
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday broke his silence on rumours suggesting he had died and had been replaced by one Jubril, a body double from Sudan.
“A lot of people hoped that I died during my ill health. Some even reached out to the vice president to consider them to be his deputy because they assumed I was dead. That embarrassed him a lot and, of course, he visited me when I was in London convalescing… It’s real me; I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday. I am still going strong,” Buhari said.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, the president made the clarification while responding to questions during an interactive session with the Nigerian community in Krakow, Poland.
A member of the audience had asked Buhari to shed light on the matter.
Buhari, who was in the country for the Conference of the Parties (COP24) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), described the rumour as “ignorant and irreligious”.
Buhari used the occasion to restate his government’s commitment to security, the economy and the fight against corruption.
“Those in the northeast will tell you that in spite of the recent setbacks, there is a difference between the time we came and before. We are not doing badly on security, economy and agriculture. We have virtually stopped the importation of food especially rice and we are saving a lot of money.
“We now have food security and that has come with fiscal security because a lot of young educated people have not regretted going back to the farms and earning a respectable living. I am afraid; this is not receiving good publicity. But a lot of people in the rural areas are enjoying the benefits of our interventions in agriculture,” he said.
He urged Nigerians to remain vigilant and supportive of Federal Government’s efforts to ensure the security of life and property in the country. While acknowledging that financing the security sector has been challenging, he maintained that the Nigerian Armed Forces were equal to the task.
In his remarks, the Ambassador of Nigeria to Poland, Mr. Eric Adagogo Bell-Gam, praised Nigerians living in the country for being worthy ambassadors of the country.
Earlier yesterday, the General Overseer of Living Faith Church Bishop David Oyedepo had joined the growing list of Nigerians worried about the rumour. Addressing the congregation, he said if Buhari does not clear the air on the sensitive matter, then “it must have been proved beyond any iota of doubt he is not our president.”
Oyedepo was reacting to a recent publication in a national newspaper where the author claimed representatives of the Jubril family showed up in Abuja threatening they would spill the beans unless the Federal Government meets their set of demands.
Oyedepo regretted that despite the sensitivity of the matter, no official statement from government had refuted the allegation. According to him, this might imply the country was up for sale.
But whether many Nigerians would accept the repudiation of the story made in far away Poland waits to be seen.
One of the proponents of the theory, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, had explained recently that pre-2017 photographs of Buhari’s (left side) outer ear had a deformed lobule and a straight antihelix and that these features can no longer be found in his recent pictures. He added: “In any reasonable country around the world, the citizens should by now commence a worldwide protest to demand the identity of their president.”
The rumour also surfaced at last week’s National Executive Council meeting of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Someone in the audience had loudly punctuated a speech by presidential candidate Abubakar Atiku with “Jubril must go!” to which Atiku responded, “Which Jubril? Is it the one in Sudan or the one in Abuja?”
But the Minster of Information Lai Muhammed, not amused, had described the suggestion as irresponsible. He told journalists during an interactive session in Abuja last week: “The idea that a clone of the president or a body double is impersonating the president is so idiotic that no serious government will respond to it. Is it not stupid that some people would believe that the same Jubril from Sudan is in N’Djamena, the Chadian capital, where the president had gone to meet the Chadian president on how to address issues troubling the region?”
He explained further: “When you go to council and memos are presented, the president for instance would say, ‘I remember the Mambila power project. I have worked on the memo before as Head of State.’ The president will tell you that as Head of State in 1984, he had knowledge of the project and he will re-engage you. And some idiots would think a Jubril from Sudan would do that? It is so stupid.”