Heads of State and Government of other countries will not be attending the second term inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29. Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed who confirmed this said world leaders have not been invited to the historic occasion.
Addressing the media at the Presidential Villa, Mohammed said the decision not to invite world leaders to what has been described as “low key affair” was taken at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council on May 8, 2019. Checks by MediaDimensions however show that the Eagle Square is currently being renovated and arranged for the May 29 inauguration.
The Minister says “a number of the events slated for the inauguration will now be held during the first observance of June 12 as the National Democracy Day” and that “invitations have been sent to all world leaders to attend the ceremonies marking the observance of the Democracy Day on June 12”.
President Buhari had last year declared that June 12 will from 2019 be observed as the country’s Democracy Day instead of May 29 which has been the tradition since the handover of power to civilian administration by the military in 1999. June 12 was the day the 1993 presidential election was held but the announcement of the result truncated and annulled by the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. The presumed winner of election, MKO Abiola was later incarcerated and he died in detention under controversial circumstances in July 1998.
In the words of the Information and Culture Minister, “the country can ill-afford two major celebrations within a two-week interval…Since the first observance of June 12 as Democracy Day falls into an election year, and as a measure to sustain June 12 as Democracy Day, the celebration of the inauguration and the advancement of democracy in the country will now take place on June 12”.
Apart from the taking of oath and change of guards, Mohammed could not say which events will hold separately on May 29 and June 12. He however promised to return with the details at a world media conference he will host on Monday next week, barely two days before the valedictory meeting of the Federal Executive Council after which the cabinet will stand dissolved on the night of May 28.
The decision to reschedule celebrations for President Buhari’s second term inauguration may also not be unconnected to the ongoing fast by Muslims in the Holy Month of Ramadan. The fasting is expected to end around June 3 in good time for celebration on June 12.