Fri, 19 Jul 2019

Nigeria's president took the extraordinary step of denying rumours that he died and was replaced by a body double, telling the country that he is alive and well.

"It is the real me I assure you," President Muhammadu Buhari said on Sunday to a group of Nigerians during a visit to Poland, where he is attending the United Nations Climate Conference.

"A lot of people hoped that I died during my ill health," Buhari said. "I am still going strong."

The 75-year-old, who was elected in 2015 and will run for his second term in February, has been in ill health throughout his presidency. But in the video of his remarks posted to Twitter by his personal assistant, he joked as he dismissed the rumors, to laughter and head-shaking applause by some government officials after a Nigerian posed a question about his identity.

The government has been tight-lipped about Buhari's health throughout his presidency.

Rumors of his death started in 2017, when Buhari spent seven weeks in London for medical treatment. They abated when he returned to Nigeria, but returned in full force last month, stoked by prominent opposition leaders and separatists.

Buhari said Monday at the UN Climate Change conference in Poland that no country can fight climate change on its own and called for international support to save the receding Lake Chad and ensure its safety from Boko Haram fighters.

"Nigeria believes in joint and co-operative effort to tackle the problem," Buhari said, noting that climate change effects are felt more acutely in vulnerable communities. "We urge that effort to address the challenges of climate change be pursued within multilateral frame work."

He said parameters should be put in place to monitor financial flows from developed countries to developing economies.

Lake Chad, one of the world's largest freshwater lakes, has shrunk by 95 percent in more than 50 years, the government says. Buhari has said that has led to massive social and economic loss for millions of families, and has linked it to violence by Boko Haram insurgents.

He called on the international community to support a water transfer from the Congo Basin, saying it would benefit of over 40 million people that depend on the Lake Chad for their livelihood and to guarantee future security of the region.

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