Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has postponed the annual colloquium to mark his birthday as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The former Lagos state governor will clock 68 on March 29.
In a letter to his associates organising the event, Tinubu said the decision to postpone the event is due to overriding public health concerns.
He said there is a need to lead by example and help educate and lift public awareness on all issues, including the coronavirus.
“The spirit of the colloquium has always been one of public service and social progress. To keep faith with that spirit, we must seriously consider the need to postpone the colloquium,” Tinubu said.
“Due to the troubling promulgation of the coronavirus, the world has entered an unprecedented phase. Many nations have instituted travel restrictions and have curtailed various forms of economic activity and social events.
“However, we note the number of cases is slowly increasing across Africa. This is of great concern. That the virus has not yet come in great numbers should not lull us into false security. We know not why it has not touched us in the way it has affected other nations. Thus, we cannot be certain that it will not eventually visit Nigeria in significant numbers.
“The colloquium is something I look forward to every year. This year I was greatly looking forward to the discussion on innovation in basic education. However, I think it even more urgent that we educate and increase awareness of this possible public health menace.
“We do not want a situation where we have gathered for a good cause only to later find that the event might have been a conduit to disseminate not only knowledge but also the virus as well. We should foreclose this possibility even though it is slight.
“If you decide that caution is required, then the colloquium can be postponed but not cancelled. It is important that your exceptional work be presented to the Nigerian people once we believe public health concerns have been addressed.”
The Lagos state government had banned religious gatherings of more than 50 people in the state to curb the spread of the virus.