Former president Olusegun Obasanjo was not present at the 2019 presidential inauguration and Democracy Day celebration. A report by a national newspaper that Obasanjo did not receive an invitation for the events has been disputed by the presidency. The claim by Obasanjo “cannot be sustained”, said the presidency in a statement by Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesman.
Per the presidency’s statement:
- The invitation from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, was sent to Chief Obasanjo’s known forwarding address, detailing out all the major events, and the invitation cards were delivered by a reputable courier company as confirmed.
- The receipt of the letter and invitation cards was confirmed by Mr. Taiwo Ojo, the long standing Personal Secretary to the former President.
Quote: “If, in the circumstance, Chief Obasanjo did not see or receive the letter and invitation cards as published by Vanguard newspaper and several other news platforms, then the former President needs to find out what is happening with his own secretariat. The government office did its job diligently and should not be blemished for no reason.”
Why it matters: Buhari’s inauguration was attended by only one living former head of state, Yakubu Gowon. The former leaders also stayed away from the June 12 celebration. Several pieces have been written on the matter and pundits have wondered why. As Shehu said, “since the claim was first made, elements in the polity that have deliberately and consistently been trying to lead the country toward polarization have cashed in on it, throwing all manner of rubbish at the Buhari Presidency.” Obasanjo is well within his rights to stay away from attending the event, after all President Buhari consistently refused to attend several state events under previous presidents despite being a former head of state. However, if indeed he was invited and chose to decline, Obasanjo should own it.