The presidency has said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was officially invited to attend the June 12 commemoration and the presidential inauguration in Abuja, contrary to claims circulated in the media.
A statement from the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, on Wednesday stated that the claims by Mr Obasanjo’s aide that he did not receive invitations to the events could not be sustained.
Mr Obasanjo was conspicuously absent at the May 29 inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office.
The two-time president was also not present at the inaugural June 12 Democracy Day commemorations in Abuja, heightening speculations that the relationship between him and the incumbent president might have worsened.
However, Mr Obasanjo was not the only former president absent at the June 12 celebration. In fact, all President Buhari’s predecessors, who are still alive, were absent at the ceremony.
The media aide to Mr Obasanjo, Kehinde Akinyemi, was reported to have said his boss did not get the invitation to attend the event.
“The former President did not get the invitation. I did not say that he was not invited but he did not get the invitation to attend the event,” Mr Akinyemi said in a June 16 report by the Vanguard Newspaper.
“The invitation might have been lost in transit. What I can say is that Baba did not get the invitation.”
But Mr Shehu said the former president owed an answer to Nigerians on his absence from the 2019 presidential inauguration and Democracy Day celebration because the claim that he was not invited or he did not receive an invitation could not be sustained.
He said since Mr Obasanjo’s claim was first made, elements in the polity that had deliberately and consistently been trying to lead the country toward polarization had cashed in on it, “throwing all manner of rubbish at the Buhari Presidency.”
“The fact remains that the Secretary to the Government, Boss Mustapha wrote on May 16th, 2019 to: His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, Former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Agbe L’Oba House, Quarry Road, Ibara, P.O.Box 2286, Abeokuta, Ogun State,” the statement said.
“The invitation 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 as delivered by the courier company was confirmed by Mr. Taiwo Ojo, the long standing Personal Secretary to the former President.
“If, in the circumstance, Chief Obasanjo did not see or receive the letter and invitation cards as published by Vanguard newspaper (Page 16, June 16, 2019) 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.”
The former Nigerian leader had been critical of the Buhari administration in recent past, especially his handling of the nation’s economy and the failure in the area of the security of lives of Nigerians.
Although Mr Obasanjo supported Mr Buhari for the 2015 presidential election, he worked against him in 2019 and supported opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar. Despite that, the president still won his re-election, making it the first time since 1999 that Mr Obasanjo’s favoured candidate would lose the Nigerian presidential election.