Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-Military Head of State, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, IBB, were absent at Tuesday’s Special National Honours Investiture of Chief MKO Abiola and others.
Abiola was awarded GCFR, the highest title in the land, while Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe and Chief Gani Fawehinmi were awarded GCON.
At the event, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, informed the gathering that Obasanjo and Babangida both expressed regrets for their inability to attend.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, a close aide to Obasanjo disclosed that the former leader left the country since last Friday.
He said Obasanjo has been scheduled to attend a book launch outside the country even before the award investiture of MKO Abiola and others was announced by the federal government.
“Baba jetted out last Friday; but his trip was planned long ago.
“I’m aware he personally reached out to the presidency to explain that he would not be able to attend today’s event.
“I think he will return to Nigeria on Wednesday or Thursday”, the source said.
Similarly, Babangida, it was learnt, apologized to the presidency for his absence.
He was said to have given his health issue as the reason.
In the last few years, IBB has not made public appearance and routinely travels abroad for medical treatment.
Currently, the former ruler cannot walk properly unless aided.
Meanwhile, son of the late legal icon and human rights activist, Mohammed Fawehinmi, has described President Muhammadu Buhari as a sensitive leader.
Fawehinmi noted that the family was grateful and elated by the award conferred on his father.
He said June 12 was the foundation of democracy in the country and that the Tuesday’s occasion was a show of entrenchment of unity of all citizens of the country regardless of religion and ethnic background.