By Philips Sunday
Enugu, (AN24) – President Muhammadu Buhari was noticeably absent at the South-East Economic and Security Summit in Enugu today, Thursday, December 22, three days after members the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, threatened to ‘die with the President’ should he step his foot on Enugu or any part of the area, the group calls Biafraland.
According to the programme of event, the President was suppose to be the Chief Guest of Honour at the summit, which held in the Enugu State Government House.
Although the President was expected at the event, as noted by several speakers who spoke during the event, he did not show up, neither was he represented.
Also, ministers from the South-East, who were slated to make presentations at the event, all stayed away, PUNCH reports.
Recall that the IPOB had on Monday, December 19, issued a statement through its spokespersons, Barrister Emma Nmezu and Dr. Clifford Chukwuemeka Iroanya, warning Buhari to stay away from the South-East, in his own interest.
The group said the President who they alleged killed over two thousand unarmed and peaceful Biafrans since June 17, 2015, is not allowed into any part of Biafraland until all those detained are released, and Amnesty International report investigated.
Describing the President as “the killer of Biafrans”, IPOB warned that “any governor or Igbo politician that receives Buhari in Enugu will have himself or herself to blame”.
Though the IPOB’s warning message was not mentioned throughout the opening session of the summit, however, Buhari’s absence was a major talking point as several speakers expressed surprise, and confusion, at the development.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the South-East Security and Economic Summit, former power minister, Prof. Barth Nnaji, observed, “We have not seen the President.”
According to report, Buhari’s name was later substituted with that of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who attended the event as the ‘Distinguished Guest of Honour’, in the introductory part of a prepared address where he was to thank Buhari for attending the occasion as the Chief Guest of Honour.
Instead of thanking Buhari for gracing the occasion as the chief guest of honour, as stated in the prepared address, Nnaji thanked Obasanjo for attending the event as the distinguished guest of honour.
He also thanked the Enugu State government for undertaking to sponsor some aspects of the President’s visit.
Similarly, the chairman of the event, former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, drew attention to 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,” Anyaoku said.
The retired diplomat however expressed regrets that President Buhari was not present at the event.
Rounding up his address with a call for the restructuring of the country, Anyaoku said, “I had hoped that Mr. President would be here to hear me.
“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.” Anyaoku said.