Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, above, denied rumours going the rounds on social media that he died and has been replaced by a Sudanese lookalike, reports said citing him.
Addressing Nigerian expatriates in Poland, where he arrived on Sunday to attend UN climate talks, the leader said it the real Bukhari they are beholding and not a lookalike.
The leader of Africa’s most populous nation said he is still going strong ahead of his 76th birthday to be celebrated shortly.
Rumour mills started working overtime on Bukhari’s health in Nigeria’s political circles and media during his five-month hospital stay in the UK last year.
Posts fuelling the rumours were viewed more than 500,000 times. They said ‘Jubril’, a Sudanese lookalike, was playing the president to prevent political instability and subsequent violence ahead of general elections in February next.
As Bukhari is seeking re-election, the government has not disclosed his illness fearing it may affect his electoral fortunes.
Nigerians are concerned as Bukhari looks thin and has made very few public appearances in recent months.
The president said some ambitious leaders, especially his critics, hoped he died during his hospitalisation. They even told the vice president to consider them to be his deputy.
News agency AFP found that Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, was among those who have been fuelling the rumours. A former aide to Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, was another individual who promoted the rumours.
Bukhari described them as ignorant and irreligious.