It reminds one of Irwing Wallace’s bestseller ‘The Second Lady’, where Soviet secret agency KGB makes a move to replace US First Lady – US President’s wife – with a lookalike. The novel ends with one of the two women dying and it isn’t clear which one lived on as the US President’s wife.
In Nigeria, rumours have been in the air for about a year that President Muhammadu Buhari died during a prolonged medical leave for treatment in UK and was replaced by an impostor. This started after 75-year-old Buhari returned from his treatment about a year ago, looking much better.
Buhari is running for re-election in February and the rumour has been turned into an issue by some of his political opponents.
As said a report in rt.com, the attempt by Nigerian president to reassure his countrymen that he is alive, and wasn’t replaced by an impostor during a long medical leave, failed to convince everyone because that’s exactly what a clone would say.
Buhari recently issued a statement denying rumours that he had died and been replaced by a body double. Following Buhari’s five month absence from the country, as he sought treatment for an unnamed, serious illness in the UK, rumours began to circulate in Nigeria that the 75-year-old national leader had died, and replaced by a lookalike named Jibril Aminu of Sudan.
Publicly confronted and asked if he was an impostor by a member of the Nigerian community during a town hall session with Nigerians living in Poland, where he was attending a conference, Buhari slammed rumours as irresponsible, reassuring the audience he was the real deal.
He said, “It’s the real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong.”
“A lot of people hoped that I died during my ill health. Some even reached out to the Vice President to consider them to be his deputy because they assumed I was dead. That embarrassed him a lot and of course, he visited me when I was in London convalescing,’’ he said.
He also took to social media platforms to issue a statement to the same effect.
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. The ignorant rumours are not surprising — when I was away on medical vacation last year a lot of people hoped I was dead. pic.twitter.com/SHTngq6LJU— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) December 2, 2018
Buhari added that those who spread the rumour were “ignorant and irreligious”.
The presidency circulated Buhari’s comments in an emailed statement entitled “It’s Real Me, President Buhari Responds to Cloning Allegation”.
However, rt.com report said the direct but seemingly prepared answer managed to convince just a few of his Twitter followers, who noted that only a genuine impostor would answer that question this way.
This Jubril Al ‘Sudani conspiracy has finally crept into mainstream media. No longer a social media foible. Well done Nnamdi Kanu for successful showing that Nigeria is indeed a crazy place. Tuehhh! Make I pass abeg. Don’t come here with that nonsense story pls. pic.twitter.com/8ZW0Fgx63t— Mazi Deji Adeyanju Ph.D (@AMADICHIMA) November 29, 2018
Conspiracy theories about the president sprouted like mushrooms after Buhari took a number of trips to the UK last year to seek medical treatment for an undisclosed malady. While the presidency repeatedly rejected rumours that the head of state was terminally ill or dead, failure to disclose his illness prompted rumours that the president could have been cloned.