By our Reporter
The wild claim and rumour that the president had been replaced by a lookalike called Jibrin, from Sudan, gained notoriety during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office, when he spent months in a London hospital
And with regards to that widespread acclaim, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari says he did not find it funny that many of his country’s citizens believed the rumour that he was dead and had been replaced with a lookalike named Jibrin who was from Sudan.
Retrospectively, the Nigerian leader spoke in a documentary shown Friday night at a private dinner in Abuja organised by his family and associates in celebration of his 80th birthday. The event was tagged “Celebrating A Patriot, a Leader, an Elder Statesman.”
He retorted that, “Yes! People said I am somebody from Sudan. I didn’t bother with the name. That’s because, Nigerians have mischievous ways of explaining themselves,” president Buhari explained.
So, when he was asked whether he found the rumour funny, Buhari said: “No. It’s not funny. This was because those who made those statements, just wanted to be cheeky. They wanted to distract attention from the main issues on ground.”
As pointed out earlier, that the rumour that the president had been replaced by a lookalike called Jibrin, from Sudan, gained notoriety during Mr. Buhari’s first term in office when he spent months in a London hospital due to an undisclosed illness.
Shamefacedly, however, the rumour was made popular by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
Instructively, the IPOB is a group leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra, which it wants carved out from the South-east and some parts of the South-south Nigeria.
Thus Mr. Kanu, leader of the separatist group, was based outside the country at the time he popularised the rumour.
As old foes, therefore, the IPOB leader has been critical of president Buhari’s administration which he accused of bias for not addressing persistent herders-farmers’ crisis across the country, especially in the South-east and South-south regions.
Nnamdi Kanu, the secessionist leader had also accused Buhari, a Fulani, of backing attacks by suspected Fulani herders across Nigeria in a bid to Islamise the country.
But president Buhari has since refuted the allegations.
And of course, going beyond the allegations, Mr. Buhari was disturbed by the IPOB leader’s persistent calls for secession of the South-east and South-south region from Nigeria.