By Mumini AbdulKareem
Barely a week after the second edition of the Ilorin Grand Durbar was held in the Kwara State capital, high profile invitees in separate interviews with this medium last night, have opened up on the real reasons they were not present at the occasion.
Although the event was largely attended by mammoth crowd, the absence of some high profile invitees took off shine and glitz from the event.
Aside from Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, other notable invitees who were conspicuously missing included Senator Gbemisola Saraki; Dan Madami of Ilorin, Alhaji Shehu Gafar; Wali of Ilorin, Alhaji Usman Mustapha and former Abia State governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu. Kalu who is presently a Senator and the current holder of the Dan Madami title of Ilorin, which was conferred on him along with other indigenes of the Emirate by the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Zulu-Gambari during his celebration of his 11th anniversary on the throne.
In their separate reactions, last night, majority of the invitees gave reasons for their action even as they expressed support for the cultural showpiece.
Governor Abdulrazaq for reasons that are still shrouded in secrecy days after the event, failed to attend the yearly gathering preferring to send his Deputy, Kayode Alabi to represent him.
Although, there has not been any official response from the Governor on why he did not attend the event, many had insinuated that Gov Abdulrazaq allegedly stayed away during the period for yet to be disclosed political reasons.
But according to Alhaji Shehu Gafar, who spoke to our reporter from Dubai, the event was a huge success with large turnout adding that his absence was health related.
“My absence was heath related. Yes, I was invited but I have health challenge and the organisers know that I can no longer climb the stairs to the palace pavilion. I am in Dubai as we speak for medical checkups. Health wise, it is now difficult for me to climb any raised platform. I am fully part of the programme and completely with the organisers.
“Also, we usually hold the meeting of the Board of Trustees (BoT) for the Ilorin Central Mosque the next day after the Durbar in my house and I left the state for Dubai on Tuesday, a day after the event which was very successful with large turnout.
“The Emir, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, is my childhood friend, same with the Chairman of the committee, Engr. Suleiman Alapansapa and we are all together in this and committed to its success”, he added.
Although her line was switched off, close aides of Kwara minister designate, Senator Gbemi Saraki said, “she was held up somewhere in Lagos” on the day of the event here in Ilorin.
“Yes, we were really expecting her to show for the event and some of us were worried about her absence. But we later learnt that the day coincided with her mum’s birthday and some of her siblings and friends organised a surprise package for her and invited friends to grace the occasion”.
Another aide of the former Kwara Central senator added that, “she was held up somewhere on the day of the event in Lagos. That accounted for why she was unable to attend”, she submitted.
In the case of the Wali of Ilorin, Alhaji Usman Mustapha, there were two positions as regard his unavailability, last night.
Although his name was on the invite, it was not clear whether former governorship aspirant, Moshood Mustapha was recognised was recognized at the event as a representative of his father.
A source close to the family said the Wali was the one who called the former member of the Federal House of Representatives (Moshood Mustapha) to represent him at the event.
“You know the Wali is aged and now a nonagenarian. He was the one who called on MM to go and represent him. That was why he was not there,” the source noted.
Also, another family source who also confided in our reporter because he was not authorised to speak officially on the matter said the Wali because of his age might not be able to withstand the crowd at the event adding that Moshood Mustapha was not seconded by his father.
“The Wali is quite of age and because of the crowd at Durbar, it was better to play safe by staying at home, rather than attending to avoid any unpleasant experience. MM attended the event on his own just like other notable politicians who were his contemporaries that graced the occasion”, the source added.
Similarly, former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu did not show up for the event and there was no mention of any of his representatives or message from the Special Guest of Honour of the event.
Kalu’s absence, some believed, maybe as a result of his indifference to the title bestowed on him.