President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed how then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was embarrassed by calls for him to choose a new deputy while he (Buhari) was away on medical vacation.
President Muhammadu Buhari made this known while responding to rumours suggesting he had died and had been replaced by one Jubril, a body double from Sudan said.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, in a statement said the president made the clarification while responding to questions during an interactive session with the Nigerian community in Krakow, Poland on Sunday.
Asked to shed on the matter of a body double, Buhari said:
“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.
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”.
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.
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.”