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If Buhari Is Not Buhari

Tunde Odediran looks at the underlying factors probably nourishing the fake news on President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘cloned imposter’ in Aso Rock

President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that he has no plans to groom or name a successor / Photo credit: State House
President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that he has no plans to groom or name a successor / Photo credit: State House

The presidency must be getting jittery about the news that President Muhammadu Buhari is a clone of himself, for the Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Muhammed, to come out recently to declare that Aso Rock is not manned by a look-alike.

Shortly after, Buhari, behaving as if it was unimportant issue, equally refuted claims he is a fake person. But was Buhari, Buhari? If he was Buhari, many Nigerians have not been fully convinced by that single appearance.

Long before the Buhari administration thought it necessary to address the issue, the news media – fake or real- have been rife with speculations that the one we see at the top of the political pyramid, parading himself as the one we elected to manage our lives, sitting on our most exalted national chair, is nothing but an impostor and impersonator, carefully crafted by Buhari’s inner circle to replace the President Buhari who died long ago in London.

Controversial radicals have given a huge lift to the claim in recent days. The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, insinuated from his hideout in Israel that the fake Buhari is another man called the “Jubril of Sudan.” Kanu buttressed his claim with “six scientific facts” which, paradoxically, rest on the evidence that the clone must look like the original.

However, he made diverse claims that Lai Mohammed must now work hard to refute. Among them, Kanu claimed that Buhari is a clone because the new person has fuller hair, cannot speak the same languages, distances himself from Buhari’s wife and family, is not of the same height and no longer receives treatment for Buhari’s supposed lifelong medical condition.

Former Niger Delta militant leader, Asari Dokubo, also believes the current occupant of Aso Rock was cloned when the original died in London. Dokubo asserted: “So this man they have in Aso Rock was speaking, even from his voice, you will know that he was cloned. So, we will not be surprised if they did some sort of cloning in all the period this man was incubating in Abuja House in London.”

If Buhari is a clone, we are done for.

Fake news or not, Nigerians must appreciate that the news has been the creation of the present administration, with a thoughtless and selfish leader. This is why containing the rumor mill will be impossible and most people will believe what they will believe.

The implication of having an impostor as a president is serious. It means the millions of Nigerians who voted for Buhari have been scammed. It means Nigeria is one big nation where 419 has reached its peak and has been formalized. It means all of our hopes are in the hands on an unknown individual with questionable morals. It means the whole nation is living under a large illusion and may continue to do so for another four and a half years.

Fake news or not, Nigerians must appreciate that the news has been the creation of the present administration, with a thoughtless and selfish leader. This is why containing the rumor mill will be impossible and most people will believe what they will believe.

Personally, I do not believe that Buhari is fake, but those who believe he is, have things to point to, have the right to doubt and some evidence to corroborate what they have chosen to believe anyway.

At the heart of the fake news syndrome is the continuing lack of transparency in governance in Nigeria. A nation that went through many months of deception in the hands of a former administration about the well-being of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua should have expected more from any succeeding president.

Without seeming to learn any lesson from the past, Buhari failed to make a full disclosure of his medical condition. The words of Lai Muhammed as an opposition spokesperson against Yar’Adua is haunting him today. He failed to live up to his own standard of morality in public service, because he said in 2007: “Therefore, a daily briefing by the Minister of Information, based on authentic details provided by the President’s (Umaru Yar’Adua) doctors, should start forthwith.

As we have said many times, the health of the President, as a public figure can no longer be of interest only to his family and friends. Nigerians have a right to know.” The Nigerians who had a right to known under Yar’Adua are the same Nigerians who have not been extended the right under Buhari.

In civilized societies, not only is such disclosure expected, it is required because it represents an issue of trust between the leader and the led. A political leader has to connect to the whole nation and know that the health of the nation is the health of its leader.

I cannot imagine the President of France receiving treatment in the UK for several months behind closed doors without the French people being told what he was being treated for. It will be strange and unacceptable to the French people.

Such is the level of undeserved indulgence and permission that Nigerian leaders continue to enjoy. Nigerians are run over and raped by their high, mighty and proud leaders, who think nothing of the contract they signed when they swore to an oath to faithfully execute the office of the President.

My view is that Buhari is alive and is the person sitting in Aso Rock. His opponents, creative as Nigerians can be, have only sought to exploit an opportunity to knock him off his perch ahead of the coming elections. The danger, however, is that many unsuspecting Nigerians can be easily persuaded to make all the wrong choices when they vote. And it is Buhari’s own making.

Presidents in nations like Nigeria rub it in the face of their citizens, who demand nothing beyond good governance and policies promoting their economic well-being. That is why my rating of Nigeria is still that of a Banana Republic. Funny enough, Nigeria still officially appears on the 10 Ten modern-day Banana Republics. We take the honourable 6th position. Check it out at kickassfacts.com.

More seriously though, my view is that Buhari is alive and is the person sitting in Aso Rock. His opponents, creative as Nigerians can be, have only sought to exploit an opportunity to knock him off his perch ahead of the coming elections.

The danger, however, is that many unsuspecting Nigerians can be easily persuaded to make all the wrong choices when they vote. And it is Buhari’s own making.

Fake news is bad enough, and it is a negative disruptor as we have seen in the United States and other countries electorally attacked by Russia. A President Donald Trump, which once seemed out of this world, became a reality partly because of fake news. When fake news is carried to such a scale as declaring that the President of a country was dead long ago and has been replaced by a clone, it deserves a pause and some deep reflection.

Perhaps, the Nigerian media need to require President Buhari to prove his originality as a punishment for keeping secrets about his health, and to serve as a lesson for future presidents. We have had it!

Written by Tunde Chris Odediran

Tunde Chris Odediran studied and practiced journalism in Nigeria. He is now a Technical Communications and Information Technology professional in the United States.

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