Nigerians have been forced to fill in the blanks as to why former President Goodluck failed to show up at the villa for the annual thanksgiving service. The Vice President declared the former President had been notified and gave assurances he would attend but called to cancel at short notice. The relationship between the former President and Buhari has deteriorated over the past few months, with Buhari government accusing Jonathan through a masked media campaign of sponsoring the Niger Delta Avengers, a Niger Delta militant group who have not hidden their dislike for Buhari’s government and have called the 2015 Presidential election a grand scam by the North to rob the Niger Delta of its political entitlement. The relationship between Jonathan and Buhari may have broken down irretrievably as some Nigerians have openly clamoured for the return of the former President as a result of the current harsh economic climate in Nigeria. Matters came to a head when the anti- craft agency EFCC opened investigations on the former First Lady and seized monies belonging to her from what it described as a secret slush account.
The thanksgiving service which took place in the chapel was hosted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and had in attendance Heads of State, Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan, the former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, former Chiefs of General Staff, Ebitu Ukiwe and Oladipo Diya.
The Chaplain of the Aso Villa Chapel, Seyi Malomo, in his message said thanksgiving was an injunction from God, adding that everyone in spite of status must thank God in all circumstances.
“As we thank God, He will restore the good days to the nation,” he said, and predicted that time shall come when people will queue in embassies to visit Nigeria.
Osinbajo speaking to State House correspondents said the service was an exciting time to thank God for all he had done for the country during the year.
He said: “Today is a special thanksgiving for the end of the year and as you have seen, all the former Presidents and Vice Presidents are here for the special thanksgiving service.
“They have been specially invited to come, we also expected President Jonathan, but unfortunately, he had to cancel at the last moment.
“So we are all extremely excited that we have been able to bring everyone together to thank God for our nation and to give Him thanks for the great future ahead of us.’’
Gowon said he was delighted to be at the service with other former colleagues and thanked Osinbajo for facilitating his attendance.
Ita Enang, the senior special assistant to the president on National Assembly Matters, thanked the Vice President and organisers of the service for bringing the past and present leaders to the service.
He said the nation was expecting good lead from the leadership in the coming year, noting that the event was specifically to thank God for helping the country to steer the economy of the country.