Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was conspicuously absent on Friday during the 61st Independence Anniversary ceremony at the Eagle Square in Abuja.
The ceremony was presided by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), between 10am and 12pm on Friday.
Buhari was joined by former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.); former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience; and former Vice-President Namadi Sambo.
Others in attendance include Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko; cabinet ministers and other personalities.
Also at the parade ground were service chiefs: Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Farouk Yahaya; Chief Of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor and Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba.
However, Obasanjo was absent from the Independence Day ritual known to be attended by former Presidents and Heads of Government alive.
Efforts by our correspondent to get comments from Obasanjo’s Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, on Friday, proved abortive.
Also, as of the time of filing this report, there is no Independence Day statement from the strongman of Hilltop in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Until recently, Obasanjo has been unsparing with his criticism of Buhari, who has been a democratically elected President since 2015 and who is also an ex-military Head of State like Obasanjo.
Buhari, who is 78 years old, was Nigeria’s military leader between 1983 and 1985 while Obasanjo was first Head of State from 1976 to 1979. After his prison ordeal, Obasanjo, who is now 84 years old, was later elected Nigeria’s President from 1999 to 2007.
During his 82nd birthday in 2019, Obasanjo had said that he would continue to criticise Buhari in as much as the incumbent President is not doing well, noting that democracy involves criticism and that it is not family affairs.