John Adams, Minna
Well-wishers and anxious journalists from within and outside Niger State were politely turned away from the hilltop mansion of former military Head of State General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (retd) on Monday as he marked his 79th birthday in a low key occasion.
In a departure from past occasions when well-wishers and journalists got to spend time with the former military Head of State to celebrate his birthday, this year’s birthday anniversary witnessed only members of the retired General’s immediate family and close associates who joined him in celebration.
This development is not unconnected with the COVID-19 global pandemic which has mandated social distancing directives by governments.
General Babangida’s children, led by his first son Mohammed Babangida and other close family and friends, joined the former military leader in cutting his 79th birthday cake and to offer prayers.
Among close associates at the residence on Monday were former NACCIMA National President Alhaji Sani Ndanusa, Justice Musa Dattijo, Alhaji Abdullahi Musa and Alhaji Hassan Jallo.
The Chief Imam of the IBB mosque, Alhaji Ibrahim Turuluku, led the prayers for long life and good health for IBB.
The State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, had earlier called on the former military Head of State to wish him well for his birthday.
Some well-wishers who brought greeting cards and other gifts were asked to drop them at the gate in compliance with the social distancing protocol which forbids large gathering at such events.
A member of his media team and former Chief Press Secretary to former Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Mahmood Abdullahi, who was also among the close family friends said the former military Head of State was dressed in brown babanriga with a cap to match for the day.
‘He is hale and hearty and full of smiles,’ Abdullahi told our correspondent.