Aisha Buhari invites Atiku, Tinubu, Osinbajo, others for Iftar

Aisha Buhari

All presidential aspirants from various political parties will converge on the State House Conference Centre at 6.30pm on Saturday, April 23, 2022, for a Ramadan Iftar dinner with the First Lady, Aisha Buhari.

In an invitation letter sighted by The PUNCH, the invitees were instructed not to come along with their mobile devices, except their invitation cards which would serve as their entry pass.

Some of the notable presidential aspirants include: former Senate President Bukola Saraki of the Peoples Democratic Party, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar (PDP), Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State (PDP).

All Progressives Congress stalwart, Bola Tinubu; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (APC), Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State (APC), and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi (APC) will be extended to attend along with the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, among others.

The directive for all attendees not to come along with any mobile device, however, trended on social media on Thursday with many wondering the reason for such a warning.

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In a telephone interview with The PUNCH, the spokesperson for the First Lady, Aliyu Abdullahi, who confirmed the meeting, said “There is nothing here. This is a standard operational protocol in the Villa when you are having any of the three occupants of the Presidency. If they are coming for an event, this is supposed to be DSS enforced.

“Whether the president is having an event or the Vice President is having an event or the first lady is having an event because outsiders will come. That’s the security and standard protocol. That does not apply to the Vice President. How can you expect that to apply to the Vice President or even to ministers?”

However, the spokesman for Atiku, Paul Ibe, said his principal was in Mecca.

“Atiku is attending Umrah (lesser Hajj) and won’t attend because he can’t be in two places at the same time,” Ibe said.  He added that he couldn’t confirm if he got the invite from Aisha or not.

Also, the Social Democratic Party and the New Nigeria People’s Party said their presidential aspirants were free to attend the Iftar dinner.

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 The National Publicity Secretary of the SDP,. Rufus Aiyenigba, stated that his party was not formally informed of the event.

He said aspirants on the platform of the SDP can attend the event if they feel it will be of benefit to their political interests.

The SDP spokesman added, “We don’t have control over our presidential aspirants. It is their choice to decide what is best for their interest. They are aspirants and we have not gotten our main candidate yet. So, if they feel attending such a function is in their political interest, it’s a democracy. But I don’t think I know the position of the party on whether they should attend or not. We were not formally informed about the event, so we can’t be talking about it formally.”

On his part, NNPP Spokesperson, Agbo Major, said he could not speak on behalf of the party’s presidential aspirants whom he said might not be in Abuja on the day of the event.

“The presidential aspirant is not in Abuja right now and might not be around on the day of the event. The answer as to whether he would attend or not is not supposed to come from me, that is a personal thing, not a party matter. He’s the only one who can give an answer to that,” he said.

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When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Agbo Major, said its presidential aspirant and former governor of Kano State, Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso, will not attend the meeting.

He said, “No, Kwankwaso won’t attend and he is not around for now. I did not get extracts from the papers that reported the event for documentation and record purposes, though I saw the reports on Arise, Channels TV and AIT. The decision to attend or not is his once he returns to Abuja before the fixed day.”

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