Buhari boycott South-East summit after IPOB threat

Chidi Samuel

Many prominent leaders in the south east as well as the organisers of the maiden South-East Economic and Security Summit in Enugu, South East Nigeria, were Thursday left stunned and disappointed following the absence of President Muhammed Buhari at the event. The President was meant to be the Chief Guest of Honour at the summit. Notable in their absence also were ministers from the South Eastern States who were expected to play key roles at the summit.

It would be recalled that in the build up to the summit, the  pro-Biafra group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, had warned President Buhari not to visit the South-East, in his own interest.

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The President’s absence was noted by several speakers who spoke during the event.

Prof. Bath Nnaji, the  Chairman of the South-East Security and Economic Summit, in his opening remarks, observed, “We have not seen the President.”

 

The chairman of the event, former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, also noted President  Buhari’s absence.

“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,” he said.

While regretting the President’s absence at the event, the former diplomat used the occasion  to call for the restructuring of the country. According to him,  “I had hoped that Mr. President would be here to hear me.

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“Like Cato, the Roman senator who always ended his speeches by calling for the destruction of Carthage until his call was heeded, I will restate my assertion that if the Nigerian federation is restructured to have less federating units, this country will achieve greater stability and faster pace of development, and there will no longer be a need for the Federal Government to bailout many of the non-viable 36 states.”

No explanation has yet been given for the President’s inability to attend the event, especially as the summit provided him the opportunity to visit the region for the first time since he was elected in 2015.