The national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday, cancelled the 13th Tinubu Colloquium in commemoration of his 70th birthday.
The event, which was holding at the Eko Hotel in Lagos on Tuesday, came to an abrupt end after Mr Tinubu informed the guests in the packed hall that he was shelving the celebration to honour those who died after gunmen attacked an Abuja-Kaduna train on Monday.
At least 970 passengers were aboard the train when it was attacked between Katari and Rijana communities.
The former governor of Lagos and APC presidential frontrunner called for a minute of silence in honour of those who lost their lives in the attack.
Some of those who graced the event were Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos; Iyiola Omisore, the APC national secretary; Aliko Dangote; Femi Otedola, among others.
The Tinubu Colloquium is a lavish, annual event held every March 29 to commemorate the APC leader’s birthday. Olufemi Bamiro, former vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin, was billed to deliver the keynote speech at this year’s event.
“I have just been informed of a very sad incident in our country. Very sad indeed. Over 60 people and many more were killed and bombed between Kaduna and Abuja just last night,” Mr Tinubu said.
“That is a very serious incident about the security of lives in this country. And it calls for a very serious sober reflection.
Tinubu said as a statesman, the “national tragedy” is not a call for celebration.
“To be here celebrating, dancing and enjoying myself doesn’t show enough concern for a statesman, as a senior citizen of this country.
Tinubu urged the Muslim and Christian clerics at the event to pray for the country to overcome its security challenges.
“To help us win the war of evil, set Nigeria on the right path, bless us and provide guidance to all of us in our various ways,” he said.
The event, which started around 3 p.m. came to an end an hour later.
While announcing the cancellation, he said: “Because of the activities of my birthday and early prayers today, I have not been following news. The incident of bomb attack on the train yesterday night was brought to my attention not long ago. I just received a very sad incident this morning about travellers in train that were killed by suspected bandits, I hereby call off the celebration and we shall continue to pray for the repose of those who lost their lives and those at the hospital.
“That this is happening in Nigeria calls for sober reflection for me. Dancing, eating and drinking here when our sisters and brothers have been killed doesn’t befit an elder stateman like me and a senior citizen. As a result of what happened, I have decided to call off this event. The Christian cleric and Muslim are here, they should continue to pray for our dear nation.
“I pray God to comfort those who lost their lives in the tragic incident and I pray to God to set Nigeria on the right path and return peace to our land.”