For more than 48 hours, many had waited to hear the reason President Muhammadu Buhari, or any of his Ministers, or a representatives, failed to attend the South-East Economic and Security Summit, held in Enugu. Well, the President on Friday, December 23, finally opened up.
Recall, that there were different insinuation on Thursday, as to why the President was conspicuously absent at a Summit he earlier announced he will be part of.
While some argued, that it was deliberate attempt to snub the people of the South-East, others felt it was connected with threats by the Indigenous People of Biafra, who vowed to die along with the President, should he step his foot in Enugu.
However, a statement released on Friday evening, by the 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, or any of his Ministers, or anybody else to represent him.
The organisers of the summit however, 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.