From 10:32am when the presidential jet touched down in Lagos till 3:20pm when it conveyed President Muhammadu Buhari back to Abuja, Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was not seen anywhere near the president.
Buhari visited the state to inaugurate some projects by the administration of Akinwunmi Ambode, outgoing governor of the state.
Ambode led Abiola Ajimobi and Rotimi Akeredolu, his Oyo and Ondo counterparts, to receive the president at Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos.
As the president was leaving, Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti, and Ibikunle Amosun, governor of Ogun, joined their colleagues to see him off. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor-elect of Lagos, and Obafemi Hamzat, his deputy, were also on ground.
Among the projects inaugurated by Buhari were 10-lane Oshodi–Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road, 170-Bed ‘Ayinke House’ (Maternity Hospital)) at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja; Oshodi Transport Interchange and 820 mass transit buses.
The last time Buhari inaugurated projects in the state was on March 28, 2018, when Tinubu marked his 66th birthday.
After inaugurating those projects, Buhari moved to Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, where the 10th Bola Tinubu Colloquium held.
The president, who spent over one hour in the hall, posed for pictures with the celebrant and other dignitaries.
But Buhari was absent at the 11th edition of the programme which held for the first time in Abuja.
Sources said one of reasons the organisers of the event hosted this year’s edition in Abuja was to make it easy for the president to attend but Buhari opted for the launch of the Micro Pension Plan instead.
Although Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo represented Buhari at the event, there were indications that Tinubu expected the president to grace the occasion.
In a copy of his prepared speech seen by TheCable, the former governor of Lagos thanked Buhari for “choosing to participate in the event”.
“I want to thank President Buhari for sharing this special day with me. The pressure of affairs facing the leader of a nation is such that you could have easily found reasons why you could not participate. Instead you chose to be here and to even give me the compound honor of accepting to be the Chairman of this occasion,” the speech read.
Tinubu ended up not reading that speech as he spoke offhand.
There are reports that the inability of Ambode to secure the ruling party’s ticket for a second term created a rift between Tinubu and Buhari but TheCable cannot independently verify this.
Backed by Tinubu and key APC figures in Lagos, Sanwo-Olu beat Ambode to the party’s ticket.
Tunde Rahman, spokesman of Tinubu, dismissed the reports of a rift between his principal and Buhari.
He said the relationship between the duo is cordial, attributing Tinubu’s absence to the change in the plan of the president.
He said the APC leader, who is currently abroad, worked with the initial plan of April 29 and April 30 for the president’s visit.
“Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is out of the country at the moment. He has been away for like a week now. President Buhari is aware of Asiwaju’s trip abroad,” he told TheCable.
“He was working on the initial schedule under which President Muhammadu Buhari was to be in Lagos April 29th and 30th. With that in mind, he had planned his itinerary abroad. So he did not deliberately stay away from the event. He has no reason whatsoever to stay away.”