President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to rumour of his death and reportedly replaced with a body double called ‘Jibril Aminu from Sudan’.
Buhari spoke in a documentary shown Friday night, at a private dinner in Abuja, organised by his family and associates to celebrate his 80th birthday.
Speaking at the event, tagged: “Celebrating A Patriot, a Leader, an Elder Statesman”, President Buhari said, “Yes! People said I am somebody from Sudan. I didn’t bother with the name. Nigerians have mischievous ways of explaining themselves.
The rumour that the president had been replaced by a lookalike called Jibrin, from Sudan, gained notoriety during his first term in office when he spent months in a London hospital due to illness.
Asked how he finds such jokes bandied around, the President said: “It’s not funny because those who made those statement, they just want to be cheeky. They want to distract attention from the main issues.
“Our main issue is to do the infrastructure, make people aware that they need to work hard to live well. They just want to enjoy life without earning the respect of their community and so on.”
President Buhari said contrary to widely held opinion in some quarters, he will not miss the Aso Villa much because he is constantly being harassed, as his efforts to make the country better is not good enough and appreciated by some people.
“I wonder if I am going to miss much. I think I’m being harassed. I believe I’m trying my best, but still my best is not good enough. Because there are people around that think that they can intimidate me to get what they want, instead of going through certain systems to earn whatever they want to earn. And they are some people who want to be clever by half.”
President Buhari revealed that he lost two of his children by his late wife to sickle cell anaemia and that was why when he wanted to remarry, he insisted the second wife must be AA genotype, so that his children will not inherit the S from his AS genotype.
In proposing a toast for the celebrant, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo described President Buhari as a forthright, good, kind man, and an exemplary leader.
Prof Osinbajo jocularly noted that the president would make a good entertainer in his retirement because he also possesses a tremendous sense of humour.
The Vice President further painted the picture of how president Buhari deployed a lot of jokes to calm him down and particularly rescind a decision to submit a letter to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), to investigate allegations of corruption levelled against him (Osinbajo).
“Mr President is a very humorous man and I think he would make a very good career in entertainment one way or the other when he retires.
“One day, I went to him because there were some allegations that were made against me. And I was so angry, so I went to him to show him the letter I had written to the EFCC to investigate. He looked at it and looked at me and because he calls me VP or Professor depending on his mood.
“This time he said, ‘VP, why do you worry yourself about all these people. These people just make all sorts of allegations, they make all sorts of stories up, even they are saying that I am about to get married again. And even some foolish people were waiting at the National Mosque, waiting for me to come and marry again.”
He commended President Buhari for leading the nation with great courage, determination and commitment.
“I invite your excellences, ladies and gentlemen, to join me in proposing this toast to an exemplary leader, a forthright and honest man, a good and kind man, and a man who has led this country with great courage, determination and commitment for so many years.
“We pray that the almighty God will preserve his life for very many years to come and that he will live all of these many years in good health, peace, joy and with the love of all of our countrymen.”
On his part, former Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, described Buhari as a man with impeachable character, a nationalist, a good listener, a man who loves his family and the country, Nigeria.
“He is a nationalist. He doesn’t think of himself, he is a contented human being. He is a man whom all of us; even his adversaries will agree that this is a man with a flawless character, a man with a good heart, very compassionate, very committed and a good listener.
“Somebody that loves his family, Nigeria; he is a nationalist. President Muhammadu Buhari will always think about others. In his own little way and even in his humorous way, he will always not just think about himself. He is somebody that is not bothered about all these worldly things he is already a contented human being”, Amosun added.
Also, Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, described President Buhari as a detribalised person that means well for Nigeria.
“Let me say here that the President is a very highly detribalised personality. He is a man that loves this nation. Every time you meet him, he laments about the level of patriotism of our people. You will see a man that has passion for the people of this country, a man that loves every section of this country”, he said.
Umahi commended the president for what he called, “the miracle of the second Niger bridge”, saying, “Second Niger Bridge, which is now facilitating the movement of people and goods to the Eastern part of the country this yuletide season.
“Second Niger Bridge is a miracle that those of us in the South East are still savouring and is only you, Mr President that could have done it. Because when you say something, you do it.”
Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who attended the occasion, thanked President Buhari for sacrificing a lot for the progress of Nigeria.
“You have been at the helm of the affairs of this country at a critical time. We have seen a life of commitment, dedication, patriotism and honesty. Mr President, you have done well for your country. Our nation has seen the difference, the leadership that you demonstrate”, he said.
He said President Buhari belonged to the category of leaders who came and served with commitment, dedication patriotism and honesty.
He likened him to leaders in the mould of “Charles De Gaulle of France, Franklin Roosevelt of America, Winston Churchill of Great Britain and Buhari of Nigeria.”
The APC flag bearer, who attended to occasion with his running mate, Kashim Shettima, said: “The leadership you have demonstrated reminded me of the speech you gave at the Primary Convention when you won the nomination. You thanked the people with all humility and said even if you had the money, you would not have paid. But that is because, they know who you are, a man of integrity, great commitment, transparent and a exceptional humility.”
Tinubu prayed, “God will continue spare you to see the history as you want it for the country, the ship of this nation will be on the right course. You will live long to enjoy a nice evening of democracy that you brought about.
“When you talk of PVC, card reader, transparency and honesty in the electoral process like you did, we can only promise not to let you down. Enjoy 80 till you celebrate other birthdays.”
The President’s eldest daughter, Fatima Buhari, who spoke on behalf of her siblings and the family, used the occasion to thank her father for investing in their future by giving them the needed training and care for their wellbeing.
“We are deeply honoured to be here celebrating the 80th birthday of our beloved father. I thank almighty Allah for his mercy and grace, for giving our beloved father long life and good health.
“Baba is someone who money cannot buy. That is one thing we know and he taught us that. He taught us humility, loyalty, integrity, dignity and honesty and he has a very good sense of humour. He gave us everything a parent will give his child; love, care, good education, shelter and many more”, she said.
Fatima also described her father as a man with penchant for accountability and a stickler for time.
“He gave us everything, love, care, good education and all. He is blessed with 10 children, two of whom are dead, 22 grandchildren, whom he gives funny names.
“We have learnt so much from his character like ‘no African time’, he is always prompt. He once left me behind and went on a journey we all planned to go because I was late. Of course, I cried, but I learnt my lesson.
“He taught us accountability. He is always saying bring me back my change. Baba, I’m sorry I am saying all these in public, but we are so proud of you, we love you to the moon and back.”