More than 24 hours after many had waited to hear the reason President Muhammadu Buhari, any of his ministers or a representative of his failed to attend the South-East Economic and Security Summit in Enugu, he has given reasons he cancelled the scheduled visit.
There were different insinuations on Thursday as to why the President was conspicuously absent at the summit he earlier announced he will be part of.
While some argued that it was deliberate attempt to snub the people of South East, others felt it was not unconnected with threats by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) who vowed to die along with the President should he step his foot into Enugu.
However, a statement released Friday evening by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said, “Contrary to media reports alleging that President Muhammadu Buhari snubbed the recent South-East Economic and Security Summit in Enugu, below is the accurate account:
“The President was presented with a request to attend the Economic and Security Summit by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
“The President happily accepted. The visit to Enugu was scheduled for Thursday 22nd as can be found on the weekly programme. After this was done, some other stakeholders from the South East came and advised him not to go in view of the closeness of the date to Christmas; given the sensitivity of the period to the people, a presidential visit may come with over-exertion and possibly, be disruptive of Christmas.
“In view of this, President Buhari requested that the event be pushed forward to January 2017. Given his nature, he did not insist. He said if the change of date is not possible, then the event could go on without him. That is what the organisers chose to do. The President did not, and he absolutely has no reason to snub anyone.”
The statement however, did not disclose why the President did not send his Vice, any of his ministers or anybody to represent him.
The organisers of the summit were said to have been surprise that neither the President nor anybody representing him was at the summit.
Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, was quoted to have said during the summit, “I was going to start by saluting the representative of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but I have not been told of such a person. I had hoped that Mr. President would be here to hear me.”
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