Many leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were absent at the presentation of three books written in honour of the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, in Lagos on Tuesday.
Similarly, most members of Fashola’s cabinet as well as the two deputy governors that served during his eight-year tenure and members of the APC State Executive Committee were absent at the presentation the books titled: In Bold Print, The Lagos Blowdown and The Great Leap authored by his media aides, Hakeem Bello and Dapo Adeniyi.
Although the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, sent a representative, Prof. Tunde Samuel, the book presentation was in sharp contrast with that of the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi.
The absence of APC leaders had fuelled speculations that the handlers of the book launch had probably failed to invite certain persons because of perceived frosty relationship between Fashola and his godfather, Tinubu.
But speaking with Daily Independent after the programme, the Lagos State Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Joe Igbokwe debunked the insinuation that Fashola or his handlers had refused to invite the party leaders.
Igbokwe said he was invited and indeed attended the programme.
He said although he could not speak for persons who were absent, he saw some senior party leaders, former commissioners and dignitaries at the event, adding that the hall was full to capacity.
“ I was invited and I was there. I am just coming from there. I don’t know why some people were absent but I was there and the hall was filled up. Someone represented Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Other people also came like former commissioners. I didn’t take note of everybody but I was there and saw some party men,” he said.
However, a source at the event observed that the crowd of regular politicians and the media men in attendance far outnumbered the high profile personalities that would be expected to grace a programme in honour of the man who left the reins of government and Lagos State governor less than three months ago.
The low turnout of APC topshots at Fashola’s events was a clear departure from what obtained when the ex-governor was in the saddle.
Even the large attendance of senior party leaders at a similar event in honour of former Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi who also did a book presentation in Lagos few weeks ago belies the import attached to Fashola’s programme on Tuesday.
Top APC leaders across the country including Tinubu, Governors Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Samuel Lalong (Plateau) and Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), attended the event.
Others were Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, APC National Chairman; Chief Bisi Akande, interim chairman; former Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, and many others.