Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
When the roll call for President Muhammadu Buhari’s third Council of State meeting was taken at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, yesterday, former Presidents Goodluck Jonathan, Shehu Shagari and former military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida were absent.
Former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan was also marked absent.
Three former Heads of State, Generals Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Abdulsalami Abubakar, however, attended the meeting.
Also, former Chief Justices of Nigeria in attendance were Mohammed Uwais, Idris Kutigi, Alfa Belgore and Aloma Mukhtar.
The opening prayers were said by Gowon and Uwais.
The meeting focused on insecurity in the country as well as the 2019 general elections.
Officials from the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) reportedly briefed the council on preparations for next year’s elections.
Obasanjo, who was five minutes late, rushed into the chamber when a minute silence was being observed in honour of former CJN, Justice Dahiru Mustapha.
Thereafter, the former president went straight to shake hands with Buhari, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Abubakar, before taking his seat.
The meeting, which began at 11:05am, was also attended by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami.
Before the meeting commenced, Buhari went round the Council Chambers and shook hands with his visitors.
Governors in attendance were those of Sokoto, Delta, Adamawa, Imo, Benue, Lagos, Nasarawa, Abia, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kebbi, Plateau, Kano, Wike, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Zamfara, Osun, Ogun, Niger and Ebonyi.
The deputy governors of Bayelsa and Enugu were also in attendance.
Buhari shook the hand of his fiercest critic, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State.
The first meeting under this administration held in October 21, 2015 while the second held in September 2016.
The Council of State is an organ of the Federal Government saddled with the responsibility of advising the executive on policy making.
The council, which comprises the president as chairman and vice president as deputy chairman, has as members all former presidents and heads of state, all former CJN, Senate president, speaker of the House of Representatives, all state governors and the Attorney General of the Federation.
The council’s duties include advising the president in the exercise of his powers, with respect to the nation’s population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning same, prerogative of mercy, award of national honours, INEC (including the appointment of members of that commission), the National Judicial Council (including the appointment of members other than ex-officio members of that council); the National Population Commission (including the appointment of members of that commission).
The council also advises the president, whenever requested to do so, on the maintenance of public order and on such other matters as he may direct.