By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
For the first time since the rumour that the person presiding over Nigeria is not President Muhammmadu Buhari, but one Jubril from Sudan, the Nigerian leader Sunday broke his silence in far away Poland where he said “I am not cloned, it is the real me.”
Buhari debunked the story of his purported death during an interaction with Nigerians living in Poland, ahead of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), taking place from December 2 to 4 in Poland.
Responding to a question from a Nigerian who asked to confirm whether or not he was the real Buhari or the Sudanese Jibril, alleged to be his body double, Buhari said: “A lot of people had hoped that l died during my ill-health. I will soon celebrate my seventy sixth birthday, l am strong.”
Describing those behind the rumours as “ignorant and irreligious,” President Buhari said: “Yes, a lot of people had hoped that l was dead and called the Vice President and asked whether he should consider them because they thought l was dead.
“He visited me when l was convalescing. It is real me, l assure you. I will soon celebrate my seventy sixth birthday and l am still going strong. I only get harassed by my grand children, they are getting too many” he said.
President Buhari said he was elated by the reports he received from the Nigerian Ambassador to Poland, Eric Adagogo Bell-Gam.
He also told the group of Nigerians that his government had degraded Boko Haram, and unlike before when the terrorist group controlled about 17 local governments, they had resorted to hit and run method to attack soft targets.
According to President Buhari, the terrorists are able to make the little impacts they are making “because they understand the terrain better,” stressing that “It is not easy financing the war against terror.”
He said when he took over power, the state of Infrastructure was nothing to write home about.
On the economy, the President said Nigeria had virtually stopped importation of food, especially rice.
“I am trying to save a lot of money. l only go out when it is necessary. My priority is to secure Nigeria,” he said.
On the failing standard of education, he said: “I am always upset when l see little children taking bowls about begging for food. They are being denied education. Educated people are removed from ethnicity and religious politics, which is a major problem we are having in our country.”
Confirming the president’s remarks in Poland, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, in a press statement said: “Those were the words of President Muhammadu Buhari, Sunday in Krakow, Poland, at an interactive session with the Nigerian Community in the country.”
According to him, the president did not only seize the opportunity to clear the air on his status as the real Buhari but he also used the occasion to reiterate that his government will continue to focus and deliver on the three focal points of his campaign in 2015: security, economy and the fight against corruption.
He said President Buhari told Nigerians in Poland that, ‘‘Those in the North-east will tell you that in spite of the recent setbacks, there is a difference between the time we came and before.
‘‘We are not doing badly on security, economy and agriculture. We have virtually stopped the importation of food especially rice and we are saving a lot of money.
‘‘We now have food security and that has come with fiscal security because a lot of young educated people have not regretted going back to the farms and earning a respectable living.
‘‘I am afraid, this is not receiving good publicity… but a lot of people in the rural areas are enjoying the benefits of our interventions in agriculture.”