A former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, clocked 81 on Monday, March 5, and as usual got congratulatory messages coming from well-wishers and critics alike.
But as of Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to circulate a public statement congratulating the former President on his 81st birthday – an action that completely deviates from the presidency’s tradition of felicitating with former heads of state and some top Nigerian dignitaries on their birthday anniversaries.
It is understood that while the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Deputy Governor Iyiola Omisore of Osun State, Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Senate President, David Mark, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have all congratulated the former leader, the current president is yet to do so.
It would be recalled that in 2017, Buhari had from his hospital bed in London, telephoned Obasanjo to congratulate him on his 80th birthday.
“Those of us who served under you in various capacities recall a man with boundless energy, with razor sharp mind, and one who does not suffer fools gladly. Working with you was a school in itself, and the lessons learnt are worth their weight in gold,” the president had reportedly said of Mr. Obasanjo at the time.
The reason for not felicitating with the former president this time remained unclear as his spokespersons – Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu – have kept mum on the matter despite multiple calls and questions on social media.
However, there are speculations by some Nigerians that the presidency may have deliberately ignored the former president’s birthday due to the recent sour relationship between the duo.
Dear President Buhari, I noticed that last year, you were full of praises for President Obasanjo on his birthday, but on his birthday yesterday you were quiet as a grave. What happened? Are you still angry at his letter wrote asking you not to recontest? Now that would be petty!
— Reno Omokri (@renoomokri) March 6, 2018
This is because between January 1 and March 4, the presidency had circulated at least 18 such messages, felicitating with dignitaries, ranging from JK Randle, renowned chartered accountant and administrator, who turned 74 on January 12, to former Super Eagles Coach, Adegboyega Onigbinde, who clocked 80 on March 5, the same day Mr. Obasanjo celebrated his 81st birthday.
But bear in mind that in January, Obasanjo had written Buhari advising him not to seek reelection, adding that the President has failed to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.
Shortly after the letter, Obasanjo began a political movement, aimed at reclaiming power from the current APC government in 2019.