President Muhammadu Buhari Friday night described the claim that he was dead and Jibril Aminu from Sudan’ occupying the presidential villa in Aso Rock, as a joke that was not funny.
President Buhari stated this in a documentary at a private dinner organised by his family and very closed associates, to celebrate his 80th birthday tagged “Celebrating A Patriot, a Leader, an Elder Statesman”.
The documentary, produced and directed by US based filmmaker Ose Oyemadan, showcased the President’s early life, school days, military career, rise as Head of State in 1984, coup and imprisonment, release, PTF days and return to democracy where he contested elections in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 when he won and his re-election in 2019.
The narrative was driven by the President and supported with deep and authoritative insights by his nephew, Mamman Daura, classmate, Senator Abba Ali, close family members, friends, aides and political associates, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, FCT Minister of State, Ramatu Aliyu, spokesman, Femi Adesina, former running mate in CPC, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Special Envoy to Chad, Amb. Babagana kingibe, State Chief of Protocol, Lawal Kazaure, SGF, Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gamvari and the publisher/biographer, John Paden
The President said some Nigerians have a way of creating humour to feast on something they do not understand, adding that the rumour that he was dead and one Jubril from Sudan was the work of of some mischief makers to demonstrate their cheekiness.
Asked by the interviewer if he heard about the crazy rumour a while back that he was not Buhari, he replied smiling, “Yes! People said I am somebody from Sudan. I didn’t bother with the name. Nigerians have mischievous ways of explaining themselves.”
Also asked whether he finds such things funny, the President said: “No. It’ is not funny because those who made those statement, they just want to be cheeky. They want to distract attention from the main issue.
“Our main issue is to do the infrastructure, make people aware that they need to work hard to live well. They just want to enjoy life without earning the respect of their community and so on.”
The President also said he will not miss Aso Rock much because he is being harassed and that his efforts to make the country better is not good enough and appreciated by some people.
Asked what he will miss about the presidency when he leaves, Buhari said: “I wonder if I am going to miss much. I think I’m being harassed. I believe I’m trying my best but still my best is not good enough. Because there are people around that think that they can intimidate me to get what they want instead of going through certain systems to earn whatever they want to earn. And they are some people who want to be clever by half.”
The President revealed that he lost two of his children by his late wife to sickle cell anemia and that was why when he wanted to remarry, he insisted the second wife must be AA genotype, so that his children will not inherit the S from his AS genotype.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, while proposing a toast for the celebrant, described him as a forthright, good and kind man, as well as an exemplary leader.
He also noted that the president would make a very good entertainer in retirement because of his wackiest sense of humour.
Osinbajo recalled how the president used jokes to calm him down and rescind his decision to submit a letter to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), to investigate allegations of corruption leveled against him.
“Mr. President is a very humorous man and I think he would make a very good career in entertainment one way or the other when he retires.
“One day, I went to him because there were some allegations that were made against me. And I was so angry, so I went to him to show him the letter I had written to the EFCC to investigate. He looked at it and looked at me and because he calls me VP or Professor depending on his mood.
“This time he said, ‘VP, why do you worry yourself about all these people. These people just make all sorts of allegations, they make all sorts of stories up, even they are saying that I am about to get married again. And even some foolish people were waiting at the National Mosque, waiting for me to come and marry again.”
He praised President Buhari for leading the nation with great courage, determination and commitment.
“I invite your excellences, ladies and gentlemen, to join me in proposing this toast to an exemplary leader, a forthright and honest man, a good and kind man, and a man who has led this country with great courage, determination and commitment for so many years.
“We pray that the almighty God will preserve his life for very many years to come and that he will live all of these many years in good health, peace, joy and with the love of all of our country men.”
Also eulogizing the President, former Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, described Buhari as a man with impeccable character, a nationalist, a good listener, a man who loves his family and the country, Nigeria.
“He is a nationalist. He doesn’t think of himself, he is a contented human being”, he said.
Amosun added, “He is a man whom all of us; even his adversaries will agree that this is a man with a flawless character, a man with a good heart, very compassionate, very committed and a good listener.
“Somebody that loves his family (and) Nigeria; he is a nationalist. President Muhammadu Buhari will always think about others. In his own little way and even in his humorous way, he will always not just think about himself. He is somebody that is not bothered about all these worldly things he is already a contented human being.”
Similarly, Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi described President Buhari as a detribalized person that means well for Nigeria.
“Let me say here that the President is a very highly detribalized personality. He is a man that loves this nation. Every time you meet him, he laments about the level of patriotism of our people. You will see a man that has passion for the people of this country, a man that loves every section of this country,” he said.
Umahi, commended the president for what he called, “the miracle of the second Niger bridge”, saying, “Second Niger Bridge, is now facilitating the movement of people and goods to the Eastern part of the country this yuletide season.
“Second Niger Bridge is a miracle that those of us in the South East are still savoring and is only you, Mr President that could have done it.
Because when you say something, you do it.”
Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, who also graced the occasion, thanked President Buhari for sacrificing a lot for the progress of Nigeria.
He said: “You have been at the helm of the affairs of this country at a critical time. We have seen a life of commitment, dedication, patriotism and honesty. Mr President, you have done well for your country. Our nation has seen the difference, the leadership that you demonstrate.”
He said they belong to the class of leaders who came and served their country with commitment, dedication patriotism and honesty.
He likened him to leaders like “Charles De Gaulle of France, Franklin Roosevelt of America, Winston Churchill of Great Britain and Buhari of Nigeria.”
The APC flag bearer who was in attendance with his running mate, Kashim Shettima, said: “The leadership you have demonstrated reminded me of the speech you gave at the Primary Convention when you won the nomination. You thanked the people with all humility and said even if you had the money, you would not have paid. But that is because, they know who you are, a man of integrity, great commitment, transparent and a exceptional humility.”
Tinubu prayed that “God will continue to spare you to see the history as you want it for the country, the ship of this nation will be on the right course. You will live long to enjoy a nice evening of democracy that you brought about.
“When you talk of PVC, card reader, transparency and honesty in the electoral process like you did, we can only promise not to let you down. Enjoy 80 till you celebrate other birthdays.”
The President’s eldest daughter, Fatima Buhari, who spoke on behalf of her siblings and the entire family, used the occasion to thank her father for investing in their future by giving them the needed training and care for their wellbeing.
“We are deeply honoured to be here celebrating the 80th birthday of our beloved father. I thank almighty Allah for his mercy and grace, for giving our beloved father long life and good health.
“Baba is someone who money cannot buy. That is one thing we know and he taught us that. He taught us humility, loyalty, integrity, dignity and honesty and he has a very good sense of humour. He gave us everything a parent will give his child; love, care, good education, shelter and many more,” she said.
Fatima also described her father as a man with penchant for accountability and a stickler for time.
She said: “He gave us everything, love, care, good education and all.
“He is blessed with 10 children. Two of whom are dead, 22 grandchildren whom he gives funny names.
“We have learnt so much from his character like ‘no African time’, he is always prompt. He once left me behind and went on a journey we all planned to go because I was late. Of course, I cried but I learnt my lesson.
“He taught us accountability. He is always saying bring me back my change. Baba, I’m sorry I am saying all these in public but we are so proud of you, we love you to the moon and back.”
There were good will messages from traditional rulers, who all eulogized President Buhari as a man of integrity and a huge sense of humour.
Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, said the president has done a lot and the results will manifest much later after he must have left the scene.
He described him as the promoter of traditional institutions and for preventing the returned artefacts of Benin Kingdom from being relooted, when he instructed that, the artifacts must be handed to the traditional ruler directly.
Oba of Benin said, “President Buhari has done a lot for this country, for the youth and for the traditional institution, and the result will come out much later.
He is a man of Integrity and transparency. I have been interacting with him for several years.”
Emir of Kazaure described the President as Mr. Law and Order who once denied him, the opportunity to be given a generator to make his job as the secretary of the then Petroleum Trust Fund, easier in order to avoid submitting reports late because he was using candlelight to work, because as he was not entitled to one according to the law.
He said: “If you are looking for Mr law and order, you have found him in President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; (Ọjájá II) also spoke about President Buhari’s dedication and commitment to the growth of democracy.
Also present were governors of Katsina, Aminu Masari and Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari and members of the cabinet, family members, captains of industry including Chairman of AriseTV and Thisday Group, Nduka Obaigbena among others.
The highlight of the event was when the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, led other members of the President’s cabinet to present a giant birthday card and cut the birthday cake as they rejoiced with him on his 80th birthday.