A documentary, Essential Muhammadu Buhari, set the stage for encomiums on Friday as family, friends and associates celebrated President Muhammadu Buhari on his 80th birthday, with the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, saying his place in history has been assured for integrity, transparency and transformative leadership.
Just as earlier, Buhari took his guests down the memory lane of his life, revealing how he lost two children to sickle cell anaemia due genotype incompatibility between him and his late first wife, Safinatu.
The President made this known in the documentary played at a private dinner organised by his family and close associates to mark his 80th birthday on Friday night at the State House Banquet Hall.
Buhari said he is AS and his late Sefinatu was also AS, stressing that he had to be doubly sure that Aisha is AA genotype before the two became partners in marriage lest children from the union inherit the S genotype from his AS genotype.
Buhari also described as “not a funny joke,” claims by some Nigerians that presumed him to be long dead and replaced by a body double named ‘Jibril of Sudan.’
The President said the dark rumour was the handiwork of some mischief makers who thrive on what they do not understand.
In the documentary interview, Buhari responded to a question about the rumour saying, “Yes! People said I am somebody from Sudan. I didn’t bother with the name. Nigerians have mischievous ways of explaining themselves.”
Asked if he finds such allusions to be funny, he 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.”
Speaking at the occasion, Asiwaju said the President would be remembered like Charles de Gaulle of France, Winston Churchill of Britain and Franklin Roosevelt of America when he leaves office, having carefully influenced Nigeria’s history with a unique leadership style that is selfless, sacrificial and responsive to the needs of the people.
“You have been at the helm of affairs at a critical time in Nigeria’s history. We have seen a life of commitment, dedication, patriotism and honesty. You have done well.
“Our nation has seen the difference. The leadership style you demonstrated while reading your speech during inauguration, when you said dollars or pounds you had not, and even if you had it, you will not pay.
“You are a man of integrity, great commitment and exceptional humility. The nation may not at this stage appreciate who you are, as we know, but there is one thing, you belong to the ranks of generals who came at challenging periods to serve like Winston Churchill of Britain, Charles De Gaulle of France and Franklin Roosevelt of America,’’ he said.
The Presidential candidate said the President would continue to standout among leaders for the courage he brought to democracy in Nigeria, demonstrating and supporting transparency and honesty in electoral processes.
The President was honored by family members and some close associates following his absence from the country on the day of his birthday, Saturday, December 17, 2022, in Washington DC, where he attended the US-African Summit, turning an octogenarian.
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, Sen 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 Gambari and publisher/biographer, John Paden.
According to Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), speakers in the documentary underscored the President’s integrity, loyalty and commitment to national development, and his distaste for tribalism, laziness, insincerity and corruption.
At the event, which was compered by Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, tributes poured from the Vice President, President Buhari’s eldest daughter, Hajiya Fatima Abba, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Oni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II and Emir of Kazaure, Alhaji Hajeeb Hussain Adamu.
Umahi and Amosun, who were in opposition party, PDP, told the gathering how the President’s warmth, friendliness and empathy attracted them to the All Progressives Congress, while the royal fathers recounted personal experiences, and how infrastructural development had touched the lives of Nigerians, like Lagos-Ibadan express way and the Second Niger Bridge.
The night of tribute on the President’s 80th birthday was also witnessed National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu, Gov. Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, former Governors, Rotimi Amaechi and Adams Oshiomhole, service chiefs, ministers, political associates of the president, and family members.
The business community was represented by Aliko Dangote, Abdulsamad Rabi’u Tope Shonubi, Faruk Adamu Aliyu, Nasiru Danu and other