Buhari, who is running for re-election in February, spent five months in Britain last year being treated for an undisclosed illness. One theory widely aired on social media – and by some political opponents – was that he had been replaced by a lookalike from Sudan called Jubril.
No evidence has been presented, but videos making the claim have been viewed thousands of times on YouTube and Facebook.
“It’s the real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong,” Buhari told Nigerians in a town hall session in Poland on Sunday, where he was attending a conference, when asked about Jubril.
“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, adding that those who spread the rumour were “ignorant and irreligious”.
The Nigerian leader said he was looking forward to celebrating his 76th birthday on December 17 and jocularly added: ‘‘If I am getting harassed by anyone, it is my grandchildren, who are getting too many.’’
The presidency circulated Buhari’s comments in an emailed statement entitled “It’s Real Me, President Buhari Responds to Cloning Allegation”.