Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, has broken his silence on the rumour that he had died in the UK and that one Jubril from Sudan had been impersonating him.
The rumour first surfaced when the president returned to the country after spending three months in London, treating an undisclosed ailment.
Supporters of the president had dismissed it, attributing it to propaganda and it eventually died down.
But the issue resurfaced in the buildup to the 2019 elections.
Speaking in Poland where he is attending a climate change summit, the president told some Nigerians living in the European nation that he would soon celebrate his 76th birthday.
“A lot of people hoped that I died during my ill health. Somebody just thought I am cloned, … it is real me I can assure you. This is the real me… I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong,” Bashir Ahmad, personal assistant to the president, quoted Buhari to have said.
This is the first time that Buhari would speak on the controversial issue.
Earlier last week, Minister of Information Lai Mohammed had said that it was idiotic to conceive such thought.
“It is idiotic to say the President is cloned. I don’t see any serious government responding to that.
“So, the same Jubril that was cloned from Sudan or Chad is in Chad now? Isn’t that stupid?” he had asked at a press conference in Abuja.
“They even said he is from Chad. Yet, the same President is in Chad as we speak. The same Jibrin is remembering what the President did while in Petroleum Trust Fund and he is also remembering what he did when he was head of state between 1983 and 1985.
“All the ministers do not know who is before them when they attend the federal executive council meeting? The President remembers memos he had seen or heard about in 1985 and we say he is cloned.
“So, Jubril from Chad or Sudan will now remember all of these? It is too silly for the government to respond to this. It must be ignored.”
Buhari could however no longer ignore the nagging issue when it came up again in Poland.
The president disclosed that those who felt he had died during his medical vacation in the UK in 2017, asked Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to make them his deputy.
He told members of the Nigerian community in Poland that Professor Yemi Osinbajo discussed the issue with him when the acting president at the time visited him in London.
“One of the questions that came up today in my meeting with Nigerians in Poland was on the issue of whether I‘ve been cloned or not,” he said.
“The ignorant rumours are not surprising. When I was away on medical vacation last year, a lot of people hoped I was dead.
“Poor Professor Yemi Osinbajo, even he had to deal with the rumours. Some people reached out to him to consider them to be his vice-president because they assumed I was dead. That embarrassed him a lot; we discussed it when he visited me while I was convalescing.”
Those against the reelection of Buhari have asked him to step down in 2019 but the president has insisted that he is fit for a second term.