An attempt by aides to Nigeria’s president to reassure Nigerians
that Muhammadu Buhari is well and still at work has backfired.
Earlier this week the presidency said Mr Buhari had tested
negative for coronavirus. The 77-year-old, who has suffered health problems in
the past, was tested after it was revealed that his chief of staff had
To scotch further rumours, his spokesperson Bashir Ahmed then
tweeted a photo, saying: "President Buhari still at work!”
But this just added fuel to the flames spawning the hashtags #whereisbuhari and #buharichallenge - now trending in Nigeria.
The gag sees Twitter users pairing photos of past events with newly dreamt up captions, joking that it's actually happening right now in the present.
One from 1981 taken in London shows Queen Elizabeth II meeting Nigeria’s then-President Shehu Shagari with the caption: "Shehu Shagari welcoming the Queen at the Lagos airport earlier today despite the state-wide lockdown".
Another shows US rapper Tupac Shakur, who died in 1996, pictured as a teenager with a caption suggesting he is listening to a song by current Afrobeats star Naira Marley.
President Buhari has been heavily criticised for not speaking directly to Nigerians about the coronavirus pandemic, although he has been active on social media.
Overnight in a series of tweets, he said he had recalled disease-control experts from overseas and urged people not to succumb to panic because of the virus.
He said the government was working to ensure that supplies of food and other essentials would be maintained.
He also announced new restrictions, including on shipping, and extra funding for Lagos state, which has registered most of Nigeria's cases of Covid-19.
Land borders and international airports were closed last week. According to official figures, Nigeria has a total of 65 infections.